How to Train a Large Dog to Use the Toilet

How to Train a Large Dog to Use the Toilet
Hard difficulty iconHard
Time icon2-4 Weeks
General training category iconGeneral

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.

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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!

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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.

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The Target Method

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3 Votes

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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.

2

Target closed toilet

Put the toilet lid down and target jumping on the toilet, reinforce this with the clicker and treats.

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.

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.

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.

The Pallet Potty Method

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2 Votes

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Lure and Shape Method

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1 Vote

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

By Laurie Haggart

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

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Tyson

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Belgian Malinois

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8 Months

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Question

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How do I train my dog to potty on command and use the toilet?

June 9, 2022

Tyson's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Grashalle, Check out the Crate Training method from the article linked below. That article will cover general potty training, but it will also include steps on teaching the "Go Potty" command and using treats to motivate pup to learn to go on command. Make sure that the crate doesn't have anything absorbent in it - including a soft bed or towel. Check out www.primopads.com if you need a non-absorbent bed for him. Make sure the crate is only big enough for him to turn around, lie down and stand up, and not so big that he can potty in one end and stand in the opposite end to avoid it. Dogs have a natural desire to keep a confined space clean so it needs to be the right size to encourage that natural desire. Use a cleaner that contains enzymes to clean any previous or current accidents - only enzymes will remove the small and remaining smells encourage the dog to potty in the same location again later. The method I have linked below was written for younger puppies, since your dog is older you can adjust the times and take him potty less frequently. I suggest taking him potty every 3 hours when you are home. After 1.5 hours (or less if he has an accident sooner) or freedom out of the crate, return him to the crate while his bladder is filling back up again until it has been 3 hours since his last potty trip. When you have to go off he should be able to hold his bladder in the crate for 5-7 hours - less at first while he is getting used to it and longer once he is accustomed to the crate. Only have him wait that long when you are not home though, take him out about every 3 hours while home. You want him to get into the habit of holder his bladder between trips and not just eliminating whenever he feels the urge and you want to encourage that desire for cleanliness in your home - which the crate is helpful for. Less freedom now means more freedom later in life. Crate Training method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside If he is not already used to a crate, expect crying at first. When he cries and you know he doesn't need to go potty yet, ignore the crying. Most dogs will adjust if you are consistent. You can give him a dog food stuffed hollow chew toy to help him adjust and sprinkle treats into the crate during times of quietness to further encourage quietness. If he continues protesting for long periods of time past 3-5 days, you can use a Pet Convincer. Work on teaching "Quiet" but using the Quiet method from the article linked below. Tell him "Quiet" when he barks and cries. If he gets quiet and stays quiet, you can sprinkle a few pieces of dog food into the crate through the wires calmly, then leave again. If he disobeys your command and keep crying or stops but starts again, spray a small puff of air from the Pet convincer at his side through the crate while saying "Ah Ah" calmly, then leave again. If he stays quiet after you leave you can periodically sprinkle treats into the crate to reward quietness. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Only use the unscented air from the Pet Convincers - don't use citronella, it's too harsh and lingers for too long so can be confusing. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

June 9, 2022

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Joe

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Chihuahua

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5 Years

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Obesity but doesn't even hardly eat

Dec. 17, 2021

Joe's Owner

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Alisha Smith - Alisha S., Dog Trainer

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257 Dog owners recommended

Hello! This is something that is best handled by a veterinarian. There could be a number of health issues causing this, or an issue with his food or diet such as an allergy. I am unable to diagnose health or diet related issues.

Dec. 28, 2021


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