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

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

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

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?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Chase
Labrador Retriever
2 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Chase
Labrador Retriever
2 Months

We live in Sutton and to know if you cover this area,if yes then could you please let me know more details in regards of price, time and training procedure.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
707 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I don't believe wag has an in-person trainer in your location yet (we are expanding rapidly this year though so that may change before long); however, online training resources are being offered and created for remote training. If there is someone, if you download wag!'s app, create your profile and select training service, it will show you trainers in your area and pricing if there is someone. I checked your area and there does not appear to be a trainer listed. If I am incorrect, each session is $60. If you go to the following link and click on the "Contact" tab and then the "Contact support" tab on the bottom of the pop up window, from a computer, you can ask for further details about pricing and training there. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Buck
Pit Bull pit mix?
1 Year
2 found helpful
Question
2 found helpful
Buck
Pit Bull pit mix?
1 Year

Ok so my puppy here was really good at going outside to potty no messes in the house for about 2 months or so now he's going alot in the house and excelly at night he dosent wait for me to wake up and take him anymore plus he's chewing up everything again how do I break him oh this

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
707 Dog owners recommended

Hello Cassie, First, you need to stop the accidents by managing his freedom when he is not being supervised. To do that he needs to be crate trained and crated at night and when no one can watch him. Crating him for a while at this age can result in years of freedom out of the crate. Not crating a young dog when they can't be supervised can result in a dog who stays destructive and has to be crated for much longer, so in the end crating him now will result in more freedom for him later, not to mention keeping him safe from chewing and potentially eating something. Check out the Surprise method from the article linked below to get him used to the crate: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate At night, whenever you take him outside to go potty and he doesn't go, or when you can't supervise him he needs to be crated to stop the accidents. Once the accidents are stopped, work on telling him to "Go Potty" when you take him outside, and give a couple of small treats or pieces of dog food after he goes potty if he goes, to teach him what Go Potty means and motivate him to potty outside. Clean up any new or old accident areas with a cleaner that contains enzymes. Look on the pet cleaner bottle for the word enzyme or enzymatic. Only enzymes will remove the pee or poop smell completely for a dog's sensitive nose and any remaining potty smell will encourage him to go potty there again - which we don't want. For the chewing, the crating is important to stop him from developing a bad long-term habit of chewing things he should and to keep him safe, but when you are supervising him you can also work on commands like Leave It and make sure he has interesting chew toys to chew instead. When he is in the crate, you can put a hollow Kong filled with dog food in the crate with him to teach him to like his own toys and to keep him entertained. Check out the article linked below for more details on dealing with chewing habits: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ https://wagwalking.com/training/not-chew-on-furniture Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Uno
Pug
5 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Uno
Pug
5 Years

He has learnt how to pee outside but I need to train him in in the bathroom now. He isn’t comfortable with dog walkers and I soon start a full time job so it won’t be possible for me to take him for walks four times a day. I need to train him to pee in the bathroom so he doesn’t hold it in. Please guide me.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
707 Dog owners recommended

Hello Urvi, Do you plan to train pup to pee on a pad in the bathroom or in your stand in shower? I suggest using a real grass pad to help pup learn. Either place the grass pad in the shower use the crate training method from the article linked below - until pup has learned to use the pad in there - at which point you can switch to the exercise pen method (treating the entire bathroom like an exercise pen with the doorway door closed or with a baby gate to keep pup inside the bathroom at first). OR you can use a real grass pad in an area other than inside the shower inside the bathroom, and simply follow the exercise pen method with pup while you are home, to teach pup to use the grass pad in general, so that pup will also use it while you are away. Do not put anything absorbent in the bathroom during the training - including a soft bed or rug. If you want to give pup a pad to lie on, use an elevated cot type bed or something like www.primopads.com Exercise Pen method and Crate Training method - this article mentions litter box training, but use a real grass pad instead to make the transition easiest for pup, and treat your entire bathroom like an exercise pen. https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy If your bathroom is more than three times the size of an exercise pen, then use an exercise pen inside the bathroom at first, then gradually phase the exercise pen out like the exercise pen method details. Real grass pad brands - also found on Amazon - be sure to use real grass and not Astroturf: www.doggielawn.com www.freshpatch.com www.porchpotty.com Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Mow
Cocker Spaniel
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Mow
Cocker Spaniel
2 Years

He is trained to do toilet outside the house. Now I need him to do it in the balcony.
He has been with us for three weeks and during this period he goes outside.
Thank you

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

Hello, you may meet some resistance. Dogs who have been trained to go outside may find it difficult to change. He'll still need to be exercised every day with walks, so try to keep this as part of his routine. Cocker Spaniels thrive on exercise and getting out and about. Don't forget about this important part of dog ownership. When you do require him to toilet on the balcony, I suggest a real grass pad. This will give Mow the sensation of still eliminating outside. I think that it is essential to keep him used to the grass pad. It will enable him to transition back to the grass outside when you are ready. One point to remember, you will have to keep the area clean and free of poop as he may be reluctant to go on the balcony if it is not clean. All the best!

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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
92 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!

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