How to Train a Large Dog to Use the Toilet

Hard
2-4 Weeks
General

Introduction

How great would it be if your big dog used the toilet, the same as you and the rest of the family! Especially if you could train him to put the seat down and flush. He might be the best-trained member of the family! 

If you have a large dog, picking up large... err… parcels left in the yard is probably not your favorite dog-related chore. It’s gross and smelly! If you cannot get your dog outside all the time because you have to be away at work, or have mobility issues, cleaning up indoor potty business on newspapers and puppy pads from a large dog can be especially unpleasant. How much better if your dog could just flush it away!  

We are all familiar with cats using litter boxes and some cats have been trained to use a toilet too, what about your dog? Although dogs are not as fastidious about their potty habits as cats, they can be trained to use the toilet too, and with large dogs that do not require steps or special adaptations to reach the toilet, the training process can be simpler. At least your big dog should not be afraid to fall in the toilet! The two keys to training your dog toilet use are rewards and supervision.

Defining Tasks

To teach a dog to use a toilet you will need to teach your dog several skills, and then thread them together for successful toilet use. You will need to train your dog to go potty on command, to target objects, eventually moving to a litter box or container that can substitute for the toilet during training. Your dog will need to learn to be comfortable jumping up on the toilet; this may involve teaching your dog to use a stool to jump up on the toilet, or providing a platform or child's seat for more stability at first. Eventually you will string these behaviors together to teach your dog to position himself over the toilet, after jumping on the seat and balancing, and then to relieve himself. Some enterprising owners have even taught their dogs to flush the toilet and put the seat down!

Getting Started

There are a few techniques for teaching your dog to use a toilet. You may want to use a stool to help him jump up on the seat, and many owners use a child's toilet seat to give their dog a wider perch during training. Many methods also involve using a container, like a litter box or plastic bin, to train their dogs to go potty in,  and then transferring this behavior to the toilet. You can make a narrow platform to go around the container, with a piece of plywood or pallet the bin or litter box can be inserted into during the training process to provide more stability. Before training your dog to use the toilet, you should teach him to go potty on command so that he can apply this behavior to his position over the toilet. Lots of treats and a clicker are required to mark and reinforce behavior and allow you to string together behaviors to create successful toilet use.

The Target Method

ribbon-method-1
Most Recommended
3 Votes
Step
1
Teach 'go potty' and targeting behavior
Teach your dog to target objects and put all four of his paws on the object. Start with a pillow or large book, then move to a stool. Use a clicker and treats to capture and reinforce the behavior. Also teach your dog to go potty on command outside.
Step
2
Target closed toilet
Put the toilet lid down and target jumping on the toilet, reinforce this with the clicker and treats.
Step
3
Add child's potty seat
Raise the toilet lid and put a child's potty seat on the toilet and get your dog to target jumping on the potty seat with toilet bowl.
Step
4
Remove child's seat
When your dog is comfortable balancing with the child's potty seat, remove the seat and teach your dog to target jumping on the regular toilet seat.
Step
5
Command 'go potty'
While your dog is balanced on the toilet seat over the bowl, give the “go potty” command. When your dog successfully relieves himself in the toilet bowl, throw a clicker and treat party. Shower praise and treats on your clever dog.
Recommend training method?

The Pallet Potty Method

ribbon-method-3
Effective
2 Votes
Step
1
Create a pallet potty
Cut a hole in a pallet or 1 inch thick piece of plywood, allowing a few inches around the hole for your dog to balance on. Inset a plastic tub or litter box into the hole to create a pallet potty.
Step
2
Potty on command
Teach your dog to go to the bathroom on command by using the command “go potty” and a specific area in your yard. Use lots of treats and praise to establish.
Step
3
Teach your dog to use pallet potty
Take the pallet potty to your dog's bathroom area and start teaching your dog to stand on the pallet potty then to go to the bathroom on the pallet potty. Treat and praise.
Step
4
Move inside
Move the pallet potty inside, into the bathroom next to the toilet, and start commanding your dog to “potty” while on the pallet potty inside.
Step
5
Raise potty
Start raising the pallet potty, this is why a sturdy pallet, or thick piece of plywood should be used, so your dog feels secure as the potty is raised. Put bricks or other solid objects under the pallet to raise it a few inches at a time, continue commanding your dog to use the pallet potty to relieve himself. Make sure it is steady and your dog is never in danger of having it collapse.
Step
6
Put potty on toilet
Place the pallet-potty on the toilet and use. Then remove the bin from the frame and place the bin under the toilet. Encourage your dog up onto the toilet seat, you can add a child's toilet seat as well to provide more footing or your dog. Clean the bin out after every use.
Step
7
Remove potty
When your dog is reliably using the bin in the toilet, remove the bin and allow your dog to jump up on the toilet and deposit his business directly in the toilet. At each stage use lots of treats and praise and provide the “go potty” command.
Recommend training method?

The Lure and Shape Method

ribbon-method-2
Least Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
Teach potty on command
Teach your dog to go potty on command and use it outside in your yard and on walks. Use lots of treats as a reward for compliance.
Step
2
Add a substitute toilet
Place a shallow tub or pee pad outside where your dog usually relieves himself. Lure your dog over the tub or puppy pad, and when positioned, ask your dog to relieve himself on the pad or tub. Provide lots of positive reinforcement when your dog gets this behavior. Wash out tub with dish soap afterwards, or start each session with a clean pee pad.
Step
3
Move substitute to toilet area
Place the bin or pee pad next to the toilet and start commanding your dog to relieve himself there. Provide treats for success.
Step
4
Put substitute in toilet bowl
Put the pee pad in a bin and under the toilet seat or put the bin under the toilet seat. If you just put the pee pad under the seat your dog may inadvertently step on it and fall in the toilet. Give your dog a stool to allow him to jump up on the toilet and add a child's potty seat if desired to provide more security for your dog. Lure him up to the toilet seat with a treat, allowing him to use a step if needed.
Step
5
Command to go potty
Assist your dog at first to balance on the seat and give him the command to “go potty”. When he successfully deposits his business, throw a treat party. Eventually remove the bin and puppy pad from the toilet, and the child's potty seat, and reward your dog from jumping up on the toilet seat and going potty on command.
Recommend training method?
author-img

Written by Laurie Haggart

Published: 03/16/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Panda
Minature bully pit
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Panda
Minature bully pit
1 Year

Every time someone comes in she gets so excited & starts pissing everywhere. We've tried everything & our apt smells so bad how do we make her stop? Also she refuses to listen & retaliates when she's mad. What do we do?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
943 Dog owners recommended

Hello Tammy, It sounds like pup is excited peeing, which can be genetic. Check out the video I have linked below on desensitizing dogs to guests. I also recommend teaching each one a Place command and working up to all the dogs being able to stay on Place when guests arrive. You want to make the arrival of guest less exciting for pup so that they can better control their bladder at that time. Door barking video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpzvqN9JNUA Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Panda's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Joy
Japanese Spitz
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Joy
Japanese Spitz
1 Year

I don't know how to train him to do potty inside toilet

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
239 Dog owners recommended

Hello! I am sending you quite a bit of information on potty and crate training just in case you want to use the crate to help with potty training. This information is written for puppies, but the procedure is exactly the same for training an adult dog who doesn't quite know where to go potty. Potty training: Know Your Pup. As you spend time with your puppy, learn your puppy’s love language. Just as some people prefer gifts, touch, or time spent together, puppies can be the same way. Some puppies love praise or pets, while others prefer treats. As you get to know your puppy, consider what reward your puppy loves the most. Create a Daily Schedule. It is best to have a routine for your puppy. A schedule helps them understand when to eat, play, and “go to the bathroom.” Your puppy should go out frequently and the routine should be the same every time. When? Start the day by taking your puppy outside, and repeating based on age and ability. They should also go out after napping, chewing, playing, and within 10 to 15 minutes of eating. Although some puppies can sleep for seven hours, it is important to set an alarm and take your pup out during the night. When you do, don’t make a fuss about it. Quietly take them outside with minimal stimulation and light. Praise them if they go to the bathroom and gently return them to their bed or crate. You don’t want them to get stimulated and ready to play in the middle of the night! As you get to know your puppy, you will become aware of their individual habits. Click here to learn more about house training schedules for puppies. Where? Take your puppy to a specific area to urinate or defecate. Be consistent. You can create an area by using urine-soaked paper or bowel movements to help create an aroma to stimulate your puppy. How? Take your puppy out on a leash so they can focus on the desired activity. This will help prevent them from wandering off to play. Once your puppy is in the selected area, use your verbal cue, such as “Hurry Up,” “Poopies,” “Go tinkle,” or any phrase your puppy responds to. What? Know the signs that your puppy has to go to the bathroom. Every animal may have a different “I gotta go” gesture, which often include restlessness, sniffing around, circling, scratching at the door, barking, and, eventually, squatting. At the first sign that your pup has to go, calmly and quickly take them outside to their bathroom spot. Deal with Accidents. Accidents are a normal part of house training a puppy. What to Do If you see your puppy in the process of urinating or defecating inappropriately, calmly and quickly interrupt them in the act. Tell them to stop (either by a jarring sound or command), and immediately take them to an appropriate location for elimination. After your puppy goes to the bathroom, lavishly praise them and offer a treat. Thoroughly clean up accidents, so your puppy is not attracted to this area again. Create a consistent feeding and watering schedule. Depending on the age of your puppy, they will eat three to four times a day. A consistent feeding routine can create a regular bathroom schedule. Take away water about 2 hours before bedtime. Learn more about ideal dog schedules here. What NOT to Do Don’t punish your puppy when they have an accident. At that point, it is too late. When a puppy has an accident in the house and they walk away, within seconds they have already forgotten about what they did. Taking them to the scene of the crime and yelling and/or rubbing their nose in it does not help and, in fact, can harm your puppy! Supervise. The best thing you can do is to prevent accidents and the best way to do this is to supervise your puppy at all times. You can tether your puppy to your waist with a five or six-foot leash and carefully observe them for signs that they need to go to the bathroom. If you can’t supervise, then crate or confine your puppy. The more accidents your puppy has in the house, the more confusing it will be for them and this can delay house training. Reward, Reward, Reward. It is important to give your puppy a reward for their good behavior. This can be for commands such as sitting and coming to you, or for appropriately eliminating outside. In a puppy, a reward can be a couple kibbles of puppy food or a treat, such as a small piece of meat. The treat should be exciting for them and only available as a result of good behavior. Crate training can take days or weeks, depending on your dog's age, temperament and past experiences. It's important to keep two things in mind while crate training: The crate should always be associated with something pleasant and training should take place in a series of small steps. Don't go too fast. Step 1: Introduce your dog to the crate Place the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Take the door off and let the dog explore the crate at their leisure. Some dogs will be naturally curious and start sleeping in the crate right away. If yours isn't one of them: Bring them over to the crate and talk to them in a happy tone of voice. Make sure the crate door is open and secured so that it won't hit your dog and frighten them. Encourage your dog to enter the crate by dropping some small food treats nearby, then just inside the door, and finally, all the way inside the crate. If they refuse to go all the way in at first, that's OK; don't force them to enter. Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If they aren’t interested in treats, try tossing a favorite toy in the crate. This step may take a few minutes or as long as several days. Step 2: Feed your dog meals in the crate After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding them their regular meals near the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate. If your dog is readily entering the crate when you begin Step 2, place the food dish all the way at the back of the crate. If they remain reluctant to enter, put the dish only as far inside as they will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious. Each time you feed them, place the dish a little further back in the crate. Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate to eat their meal, you can close the door while they’re eating. The first time you do this, open the door as soon as they finish their meal. With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until they’re staying in the crate for 10 minutes or so after eating. If they begin to whine to be let out, you may have increased the length of time too quickly. Next time, try leaving them in the crate for a shorter time period. If they do whine or cry in the crate, don’t let them out until they stop. Otherwise, they'll learn that the way to get out of the crate is to whine, so they'll keep doing it. Step 3: Practice with longer crating periods After your dog is eating their regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine them there for short time periods while you're home. Call them over to the crate and give them a treat. Give them a command to enter, such as "crate." Encourage them by pointing to the inside of the crate with a treat in your hand. After your dog enters the crate, praise them, give them the treat and close the door. Sit quietly near the crate for five to 10 minutes and then go into another room for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly again for a short time and then let them out. Repeat this process several times a day, gradually increasing the length of time you leave them in the crate and the length of time you're out of sight. Once your dog will stay quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes with you mostly out of sight, you can begin leaving them crated when you're gone for short time periods and/or letting them sleep there at night. This may take several days or weeks. Step 4, Part A: Crate your dog when you leave After your dog can spend about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving them crated for short periods when you leave the house. Put them in the crate using your regular command and a treat. You might also want to leave them with a few safe toys in the crate. Vary the moment during your "getting ready to leave" routine that you put your dog in the crate. Although they shouldn't be crated for a long time before you leave, you can crate them anywhere from five to 20 minutes prior to leaving. Don't make your departures emotional and prolonged—they should be matter-of-fact. Praise your dog briefly, give them a treat for entering the crate and then leave quietly. When you return home, don't reward your dog for excited behavior by responding to them in an enthusiastic way. Keep arrivals low-key to avoid increasing their anxiety over when you will return. Continue to crate your dog for short periods from time to time when you're home so they don't associate crating with being left alone. Step 4, Part B: Crate your dog at night Put your dog in the crate using your regular command and a treat. Initially, it may be a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or nearby in a hallway, especially if you have a puppy. Puppies often need to go outside to eliminate during the night and you'll want to be able to hear your puppy when they whine to be let outside. Older dogs should also initially be kept nearby so they don't associate the crate with social isolation. Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with the crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer, although time spent with your dog—even sleep time—is a chance to strengthen the bond between you and your pet. Potential problems Whining: If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether they’re whining to be let out of the crate, or whether they need to be let outside to eliminate. If you've followed the training procedures outlined above, then your dog hasn't been rewarded for whining in the past by being released from their crate. If that is the case, try to ignore the whining. If your dog is just testing you, they'll probably stop whining soon. Yelling at them or pounding on the crate will only make things worse. If the whining continues after you've ignored them for several minutes, use the phrase they associate with going outside to eliminate. If they respond and become excited, take them outside. This should be a trip with a purpose, not play time. If you're convinced that your dog doesn't need to eliminate, the best response is to ignore them until they stop whining. Don't give in; if you do, you'll teach your dog to whine loud and long to get what they want. If you've progressed gradually through the training steps and haven't done too much too fast, you'll be less likely to encounter this problem. If the problem becomes unmanageable, you may need to start the crate training process over again. Separation anxiety: Attempting to use the crate as a remedy for separation anxiety won't solve the problem. A crate may prevent your dog from being destructive, but they may get injured in an attempt to escape. Separation anxiety problems can only be resolved with counterconditioning and desensitization procedures.

Add a comment to Joy's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
connan
German Shepherd
3 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
connan
German Shepherd
3 Months

my dog doesn't listen to me, jumps, bites, and want to train him to use the toilet

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
943 Dog owners recommended

Hello Reem, Right now most puppies have a very short attention span, and are actually learning how to learn things. Not listening is normal before pup has had some training to teach them what commands mean and increase their attention span. Try not to get discouraged with that part, but instead continue proactively practice teaching commands, to help with the listening at the same time. For the listing, start with teaching pup to respond to their name. To teach pup to respond to his name better, practice saying his name and holding a treat next to your eye. When pup looks toward your eye, praise and give a treat. Practice often until pup consistently looks at your eye when you say his name. Next, pretend to hold the treat by your eye with your hand but actually have it hidden behind your back in your other hand. Say pup's name and praise and reward pup with the treat from behind your back when they look at your eye. Practice until pup looks consistently. Also, practice at random times throughout the day when pup isn't expecting it. Next, simply point to your eye and do the same process until pup is good at looking at your eye then even at random times during the day. Finally, simply say pup's name without pointing at your eye and reward with a treat hidden in your pocket throughout the day at random times of the day - you can also use pup's meal kibble as treats kept in a ziploc baggie in your pocket. For the jumping, check out the article linked below and the Step Toward or Sit methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump For the biting, check out the article linked below. Starting today, use the "Bite Inhibition" method. At the same time however, begin teaching "Leave It" from the "Leave It" method. As soon as pup is good as the Leave It game, start telling pup to "Leave It" when he attempts to bite or is tempted to bite. Reward pup if he makes a good choice. If he disobeys your leave it command, use the Pressure method to gently discipline pup for biting when you told him not to. The order or all of this is very important - the bite inhibition method can be used for the next couple of weeks while pup is learning leave it, but leave it will teach pup to stop the biting entirely. The pressure method teaches pup that you mean what you say without being overly harsh - but because you have taught pup to leave it first, pup clearly understands that you are not just roughhousing (which is what pup probably thinks most of the time right now), so it is more effective. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite When pup gets especially wound up, he probably needs a nap too. At this age puppies will sometimes get really hyper when they are overtired or haven't had any mental stimulation through something like training. When you spot that and think pup could be tired, place pup in their crate or an exercise pen with a food stuffed Kong for a bit to help him calm down and rest. Also, know that mouthiness at this age is completely normal. It's not fun but it is normal for it to take some time for a puppy to learn self-control well enough to stop. Try not to get discouraged if you don't see instant progress, any progress and moving in the right direction in this area is good, so keep at it. For the potty training, I recommend following the tethering method, crate training method, or combination of the two from the article I have linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to connan's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Cooper
Labrador Retriever
18 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Cooper
Labrador Retriever
18 Months

Teach him not to pull on leash
I would also like to teach him to pull a small cart

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
943 Dog owners recommended

Hello Marci, Turns method for heeling on leash: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Pulling a cart: https://wagwalking.com/training/pull-a-wagon Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Cooper's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Shadow
Miniature Australian Shepherd, Mixed
3 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Shadow
Miniature Australian Shepherd, Mixed
3 Months

Shadow is currently trained to relieve himself on puppy turn and puppy pads. We are wanting to start the process of training him to relieve himself in the toilet but have no idea where to start.

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, the guide where you submitted the question has a method called the Pallet Potty Method. Although I am not familiar with training a dog to use the toilet, this looks like a good place to start: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-large-dog-to-use-the-toilet. You will have to train Shadow to transition from the puppy pads to the Pallet Potty. Then, once the Pallet Potty is understood, you have to train Shadow to balance himself on the Pallet Potty as he eliminates, and then the next step is to move it to the toilet. Sometimes, a child's toilet seat is sufficient as a replacement. There are also tips here: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-labrador-puppy-to-use-the-toilet. It is a matter of accessibility, too. Remember that Shadow may have issues with aim so be patient and do not punish for missed attempts. If Shadow is hesitant about getting on the toilet, you may have to build steps. Good luck!

Add a comment to Shadow's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd