How to Train Your Dog to Use a Porch Potty

Medium
1-3 Weeks
General

Introduction

It’s late in the evening, it’s freezing cold, and it’s raining outside. You love your dog, but the last thing you want to do is walk out that door into the horrendous weather so he can go to the toilet. It makes getting up early throughout those winter months a truly chilling experience. Something needs to give, there has to be another way around this problem. Thankfully, there is. A porch potty will allow you to quickly let him out in the morning and the evening to go about his business. Cutting out the cold and cutting the time it takes for the toilet chore in half. 

Training him to use a porch potty will make you question how you ever survived without one. The training will also be good for him. He won’t need to hold on for ages whilst you muster up the strength to brave the elements.

Defining Tasks

Fortunately, training your dog to use a porch potty is pretty straightforward. You’ve done the hardest part, which is training him not to go to the toilet inside. Now you just need to build on that training to motivate him to go somewhere specific instead. You’ll need to incentivize him to go on the porch potty using a variety of means. You’ll also need to look at his routine and put him at ease around his new toilet. 

If he’s a puppy without toilet habits that are too ingrained, you may need just a week or so to get him using the porch potty regularly. If he’s older and stubborn about where and when he goes about his business then you may need up to three weeks to fully integrate it into his routine. Succeed with this training though and you’ll have a quick and easy way to let him go to the toilet if you’re in a rush, or you’ve got guests over. 

Getting Started

Before you get to work changing up his routine you’ll need a few things. A porch potty will obviously be the first essential component. You’ll also need a decent stockpile of his favorite food or treats to motivate him.

The other main thing you need is time. You need to be around to take him to his porch potty every morning and evening until he’s comfortable with it. So patience and a proactive attitude will also be required.

Once you’ve got the above, it’s time to get to work!

The Encouragement Method

ribbon-method-1
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Setting up
Set up your porch potty in an easily accessible spot. If you can, find a location where he’ll get some degree of privacy. The more enclosed and comfortable he feels, the quicker he’ll take to his new toilet.
Step
2
Consistency
When you think he’s going to need the toilet within the next 20 minutes, secure him to a leash and take him out to his porch potty. If you’re always there when he needs the toilet then he’ll have no choice but to go. If you let him go to the toilet on walks all the time he won’t get used to his new toilet.
Step
3
Encouragement
When you take him out to go, try and give him some space. Don’t stare at him, he need some room to go about his business. If you do want to encourage him, point at the toilet and talk softly.
Step
4
Reward
As soon as he does use his new loo, give him a treat and some praise. It’s important he associates the porch potty with tasty rewards. The better the reward, the more likely he’ll be to go there again.
Step
5
Lose the treats
After a week or two, when he’s got the hang of his new toilet, you can slowly cut out the treats. You don’t want him piling on the pounds and he doesn’t need the incentive anymore.
Recommend training method?

The Familiarization Method

ribbon-method-2
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Introduce him
Set up the porch potty and then let him get used to it for a few days first. When you set off for a walk, go past the potty and give him a chance to sniff around it and get acquainted. You never know, he might start using it straight away!
Step
2
Long leash
When it approaches toilet time, secure him to a long leash in the yard, but make sure the potty is within his reach. He’ll soon realize the porch potty is the best option around. Then you can go and point to it to give him some encouragement.
Step
3
Yesterday's toilet
If he’s struggling to go, take some of yesterday's feces and wipe it on the porch potty. The smell of yesterday's toilet will put him at ease and increase his chances of going at the new spot.
Step
4
Reward
Whenever he does use the porch potty, give him a good reward. His favorite food, a couple of minutes playing with his favorite toy, or even just some attention from his owner. The happier he feels afterwards the more chance he’ll go there again.
Step
5
Never pressure him
Don’t encourage him too much. If he feels pressured he may get stage fright and won’t be able to go at all. While of course you’re eager for him to start using it, the calmer he feels the quicker you’ll see results.
Recommend training method?

The Set Up Method

ribbon-method-3
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Away from food
It’s important you set up your porch potty correctly if you want the best chance of swift results. One of the main criteria is that it needs to be away from where he eats food or drinks water. There should be no bowls in sight.
Step
2
Away from their bed
You also need to make sure it isn’t close to anywhere he sleeps or dozes during the day. Like humans, dogs don’t like going to the toilet where they relax. So choose a place with that in mind.
Step
3
Close to a drain or hose
You want to be able to clean and empty your porch potty easily. So positioning it close to a drain or hose is always a sensible idea. He’ll be less inclined to go on it routinely if it’s always getting moved around. So pick the right spot on day one.
Step
4
Make it home
Leave the odd treat and toy near it. This will help draw his attention to it, while also making him feel comfortable around it. Walking him around the new toilet will also help. The sooner it feels part of his territory the sooner he’ll start using it.
Step
5
Get animated
If you point at the potty and talk in animated voice he’ll naturally take an interest in it. If he sees you’re confident around it, he too will feel more comfortable around it. Follow all of these steps and you’ll have the best chances of quick success.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Nelson
Labrador Retriever
5 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Nelson
Labrador Retriever
5 Years

Hi there, I can’t seem to get Nelson to go to the toilet on the balcony. He was previously trained to use fake turf at out last apartment ( ground floor) but now we are on level 10 and we has no interest in using it. He will hold on for hours and hours to avoid going and I don’t want him to hurt himself by holding it for so long. As soon as he goes outside he will go and we have tried putting some of his poop on the gruff upstairs but still doesn’t want to go. Any advice would be must appreciated

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

Hello! I am going to give you some training information on how to work with your dog to use a potty pad or a potty spot. Choose Your Spot Pick a space in your house where you want your dog to go. Obviously, you’ll want this spot to be a low-traffic area. Make sure this spot is easily accessible to your dog, and make sure the floor surface is linoleum or tile, as opposed to carpet. If your dog “misses,” it will be easier to clean up. If the only spot you can put the pee pad is a carpet, you might consider getting a small tarp to put underneath the puppy pee pad to guard against spillage. Choose a spot that is outside of your “smell zone.” An important tip to remember is to make sure not to let your dog decide the spot he likes. Not only might he pick an area you won’t like, but he’ll learn that he is in charge – not you – which can cause a host of problems down the line. Monitor Your Dog When you are potty training your dog, full-time monitoring is an absolute necessity. It’s impossible to correct bad behaviors if you don’t see them happen. Dogs have very short memories. It is important to catch your dog in the act. If your dog goes on the floor, and you try to correct him hours after the fact, he will be confused and upset, not knowing what he did wrong. This can hinder training and your relationship with your dog. Puppies, in particular, must be watched constantly. They have less control over their bowels and will go when they have to go. If you miss these moments, you lose precious training opportunities. Of course, it’s nearly impossible to be with your dog 24 hours a day, but try to spend more time at home during the weeks you are potty training – it will pay off in the long run. Learn Your Dog’s Schedule Dogs, for the most part, are predictable. They will go to the bathroom at predictable times. You should be able to learn when your dog has to go based on timing as much as on his signals. Take some time to study your dog’s bathroom habits. You’ll learn the amount of time after he eats or drinks that he has to go, and you’ll get in rhythm with his daily bathroom schedule. This will help you reduce accidents and speed up the potty training process. Studying your dog’s habits can also help you identify his bathroom “triggers” – like having to go after a certain amount of playtime. Once you learn your dog’s schedule, use it to your advantage in potty training. Bring him to the pee pad a few minutes before he normally goes, and encourage him. This will help him get used to going in the right spot, and help you establish repetition in your training. Choose a Command Word Dogs have keen senses – they respond to sight, smell, and sound. When you begin pee pad training, choose a command word and use it every time you take your dog to the pad. Just about any word will work. The tone of your voice is more important than the actual word. Try phrases like “go on” or “go potty” in a slightly elevated, encouraging tone. Make sure to repeat this same command, in the same tone, every time you take your dog to the pee pad. Avoid Punishment When your dog has an accident, it’s just that – an accident. When you punish your dog during potty training, he will become confused and scared. He doesn’t know what he’s done wrong, and can’t understand why the person he loves most is mad at him. Most importantly, it will not help his potty training. Positive Reinforcement Both human and dog behavior is largely based on incentives. Dogs’ incentives are very simple – they want to eat when they are hungry, play when they are excited, and sleep when they are tired. But the most important thing your dog wants in life is to please you. Use this to your advantage. Whenever your dog goes on his potty training pad, shower him with lots of praise. If he sees that he gets praise for doing his business on the pad, he will be incentivized to keep going on the pad – and he’ll be excited to do it! Potty training – whether it’s a pee pad or going outside – will take time, but if you do it right, can take less time. Many dogs are potty trained in less than two weeks. Just remember that you and your dog are partners. Do everything you can to help him learn the proper etiquette, and you will enjoy a long, quality relationship together. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you for writing in.

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Question
Bunny
Shih Apso
6 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Bunny
Shih Apso
6 Months

We initially tried to train my dog to go on the balcony. So now he is good at going on the balcony but now we want him to go only at one spot. Balcony is quite big and it's difficult to clean. So it is best if he could go only at one spot. But we are finding it difficult to train him. He wouldn't stay there. Since we never leashed him in the house, he is showing anxiety when I leash him to go at that particular spot. Any suggestions would be helpful

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

Hello. I am going to send you a bunch of information on potty training. You will basically have to start completely over with potty training as if your dog were a puppy again. When pet owners do this, sometimes it can take only a week, other times it can take much longer. But she WILL get it. 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.

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Sampras
Beagle
11 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Sampras
Beagle
11 Months

Hello,
My dog isn’t using his balcony potty. It’s a fake turf one we got off Amazon. We’ve placed it on the balcony and put him on his lead when he needs to go and then walk him onto the balcony, he then stands on it but doesn’t go. We’ve tried a few times and he just won’t go on it, he just stands. How can we make him go or what can we do to make him know that’s where he goes now?
Thank you,
Katie

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

Hello! I am going to give you some training information on how to work with your dog to use a potty spot. Choose Your Spot Pick a space in your house where you want your dog to go. Obviously, you’ll want this spot to be a low-traffic area. Make sure this spot is easily accessible to your dog, and make sure the floor surface is linoleum or tile, as opposed to carpet. If your dog “misses,” it will be easier to clean up. If the only spot you can put the pee pad is a carpet, you might consider getting a small tarp to put underneath the puppy pee pad to guard against spillage. Choose a spot that is outside of your “smell zone.” An important tip to remember is to make sure not to let your dog decide the spot he likes. Not only might he pick an area you won’t like, but he’ll learn that he is in charge – not you – which can cause a host of problems down the line. Monitor Your Dog When you are potty training your dog, full-time monitoring is an absolute necessity. It’s impossible to correct bad behaviors if you don’t see them happen. Dogs have very short memories. It is important to catch your dog in the act. If your dog goes on the floor, and you try to correct him hours after the fact, he will be confused and upset, not knowing what he did wrong. This can hinder training and your relationship with your dog. Puppies, in particular, must be watched constantly. They have less control over their bowels and will go when they have to go. If you miss these moments, you lose precious training opportunities. Of course, it’s nearly impossible to be with your dog 24 hours a day, but try to spend more time at home during the weeks you are potty training – it will pay off in the long run. Learn Your Dog’s Schedule Dogs, for the most part, are predictable. They will go to the bathroom at predictable times. You should be able to learn when your dog has to go based on timing as much as on his signals. Take some time to study your dog’s bathroom habits. You’ll learn the amount of time after he eats or drinks that he has to go, and you’ll get in rhythm with his daily bathroom schedule. This will help you reduce accidents and speed up the potty training process. Studying your dog’s habits can also help you identify his bathroom “triggers” – like having to go after a certain amount of playtime. Once you learn your dog’s schedule, use it to your advantage in potty training. Bring him to the pee pad a few minutes before he normally goes, and encourage him. This will help him get used to going in the right spot, and help you establish repetition in your training. Choose a Command Word Dogs have keen senses – they respond to sight, smell, and sound. When you begin pee pad training, choose a command word and use it every time you take your dog to the pad. Just about any word will work. The tone of your voice is more important than the actual word. Try phrases like “go on” or “go potty” in a slightly elevated, encouraging tone. Make sure to repeat this same command, in the same tone, every time you take your dog to the pee pad. Avoid Punishment When your dog has an accident, it’s just that – an accident. When you punish your dog during potty training, he will become confused and scared. He doesn’t know what he’s done wrong, and can’t understand why the person he loves most is mad at him. Most importantly, it will not help his potty training. Positive Reinforcement Both human and dog behavior is largely based on incentives. Dogs’ incentives are very simple – they want to eat when they are hungry, play when they are excited, and sleep when they are tired. But the most important thing your dog wants in life is to please you. Use this to your advantage. Whenever your dog goes on his potty training pad, shower him with lots of praise. If he sees that he gets praise for doing his business on the pad, he will be incentivized to keep going on the pad – and he’ll be excited to do it! Potty training – whether it’s a pee pad or going outside – will take time, but if you do it right, can take less time. Many dogs are potty trained in less than two weeks. Just remember that you and your dog are partners. Do everything you can to help him learn the proper etiquette, and you will enjoy a long, quality relationship together. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you for writing in.

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Jasper
Labrador/border collie mix
4 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Jasper
Labrador/border collie mix
4 Months

Adopted 2 weeks ago, Jasper has been successful using the porch potty on my condo patio. However, he will not potty outside because of the numerous downtown distractions (he will hold it). I have tried his own urine, waiting and just started crate training during the waiting period. Any suggestions of how I can help Jasper use both the porch potty and going outside the building?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Shirley, Check out the article I have linked below and the Crate Training method. I recommend initially taking pup potty, crating them for 30-60 minutes if they don't go, then taking them back out - repeating the frequent trips outside until pup's urge to go overcomes their distraction. When you take them potty, walk them around slowly to help them feel the urge to go, tell them to "Go Potty" and give five small treats that were hidden in your pocket after they go. After they pee, start the walking and Go Potty process over again to get them to poop. If you can find a calmer spot while they are still learning to go on command, then walk pup over to that area until they get better at going when you take them. Teaching Go Potty will take some practice but should help pup focus better as they learn what that command means, the treats should help motivate - but keep them hidden in your pocket so they don't distract from going while walking around, the movement should help pup's body feel the urge to go and keep them from overly fixating on distractions, and using the crate the way I described can help pup need to go badly enough to finally go outside when you take them. If you have the option, start the schedule with the crate when you are off work or home for a couple days so you can take them out as often as needed until they start to understand the goal from having a few successful pees outside after a few trips outside to get them to go initially. Crate Training method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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George
Labradoodle
2 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
George
Labradoodle
2 Months

I have a 8.5 weeks old puppy. and trying to use the Porchpotty. Everytime we open the patio access so he ca use the porchpotty he would walk around it go on it and sit there but will never use it. He would go patio deck that has a fake grass turf and do his business there. Would it help if I contain the porch potty using wire fencing and ensure I put him there during potty time ad leave him there to do his business. The at time he would just sit there when I bring him in thinking he is not ready he would do his business inside the apartment.

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

Hello! Yes that is a wonderful solution if you are able to construct something. I have suggested that to many folks over the years and they have great success with that. Sometimes it just takes a dog a few tries to understand what it is they need to do on the potty.

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