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

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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

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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

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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
Luca
Podenco Canario
4 Years
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Question
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Luca
Podenco Canario
4 Years

I’ve been trying to train my adult dog to use the porch potty. I’ve tried everything.. sprays to attract him to pee.. his own pee put on the potty.. nothing seems to work. I stand for hours waiting and in the end he lays down on it.. any advice would be really appreciated

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
831 Dog owners recommended

Hello Scott, Check out the article I have linked below. If it's a safe, temperature appropriate location to do so, use the Exercise Pen method from the article below. If it's not an option to use that method to teach it, use the Crate Training method from the article linked below instead (or you can simply use that method if you prefer too anyway). https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy The first two days of this will probably be the hardest and take several hours before you get the first pee - until you are persistent enough and limit pup's other potty options enough, that they finally go potty where you need them to - when that happens, have a party! (without scaring pup) - praise and give several treats, one at a time. The more times pup goes potty in the correct spot simply due to lack of options - but is then heavily rewarded for it, the sooner pup will begin to realize that it's okay to go potty there and won't wait until they have to go so badly. If you can increase the size of the grass potty surface at least temporarily, that can also help pup go there. Many dogs don't like doing potty in an area that feels too small. Check out www.freshpatch.com or www.doggielawn.com for some grass pads you could lay beside your more permanent potty area to expand the size of the area temporarily - until pup gets used to going in that location. The article I linked above mentions litter box training, but the steps are the same for teaching grass pads like porch potty also. If you are using a different type of porch potty and not a grass pad like the brand www.porchpotty.com, then you may also want to switch to using a disposable real grass pad - which more closely resembles outside surfaces, opposed to AstroTurf, pee pads, or plastic trays. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Khloe
Teacup Yorkie
8 Years
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Khloe
Teacup Yorkie
8 Years

Hi I just got my dogs porch potty 3 weeks ago we are in an apartment now but she’s so trained on going outside, even though the porch potty is on our porch she still won’t use it. We tried attractant, her own pee, the chicken broth in water, crate training, making her wait, limiting her potty options, but still nothing! We are desperate and running out of options please someone give us some tips!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
831 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kylee, I suggest using the Exercise method from the article linked below. This will likely take all day before she goes potty on it and you can reward. Expect pup to hold out for at least 8 hours before going on it for the first few times. Reward each time she does finally go - then give a few hours of freedom as an additional reward. Make sure she has water in the pen, and bring the pen inside while first teaching this and she is staying out there for a long time, until she begins to go quickly on it, if the weather isn't good enough for her to stay outside for longer on the porch in the pen. Be sure not to let her overheat. Exercise Pen method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Substitute the litter box in the method for the grass pad you currently have. If pup pees next to the grass pad instead of on it, you will need to cover the area around the porch potty with additional grass sod, then slowly phase those extra ones out as she learns to go on the grass, until you just have the one grass pad again. You can also try removing the grass top layer from the porchpotty box and placing just that on the ground - to remove the height intimidating, then when pup will go on the grass top layer, move the grass back onto the box. Place a very shallow plastic tray - like a crate pan or storage bin lid, under the low grass pad that's been removed from the porch potty to avoid urine leaks if needed. Additional grass pads to cover the ground if needed. Porchpotty also has just replacement grass tops that can likely be used too. www.freshpatch.com www.doggielawn.com Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Bandit
Golden Retriever
8 Weeks
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Question
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Bandit
Golden Retriever
8 Weeks

Hi!

I built a porch potty for my pup and while he has used it a few times, he prefers to lay on the grass and sleep. I’ve been trying to encourage him not to sleep on it because I know dogs don’t like to go to the bathroom where they sleep. How can I get him to realize it’s a potty and not a bed?

Thank you!

Kelsey

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

Adorable pup! Although this guide is geared toward older dogs, it has excellent tips for training to use grass. https://wagwalking.com/training/use-indoor-grass-1 Once you get Bandit accustomed to using the grass, he'll no longer find it a good place to sleep. Try buying the spray from the pet supply store that has a scent that encourages dogs to pee and spray that on the grass. Take Bandit to the area every hour or so and tell him "go potty" and as well, make sure to take him there after meals, anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes after, as dogs usually need to eliminate then. Does he have a nice bed for sleeping during the day? Make it comfy and hide treats there occasionally to encourage him to look for the spot on his own. Have fun!

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Question
Mango
Shetland Sheepdog mix
6 Years
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Mango
Shetland Sheepdog mix
6 Years

I have been trying to get my 6 year old fully potty trained dog to use the porch after moving into our high rise. I am a nurse and I work 12+ hours so letting him out on time is not an option and I can’t keep paying for a dog walker because it’s out of my budget. He is very stubborn about peeing outside ( the balcony feels too “indoor” for him I think). He will hold his pee for a full 24 hours or more rather than go out on the balcony and I’m worried he will get injured from holding his urine for so long.

Things I’ve tried:
- increasing the grass square footage (it is now 4x4)
- put his own urine on it
- put foliage there (he likes to mark things)
- put a handful of rocks that other dogs have marked


What else can I try 😢😭?

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

Hello, you have been trying the right things and being consistent, so good for you. It's possible that Mango misses his walks and not peeing on the balcony may be his way of saying that. There is also the possibility of fear - is the balcony in a noisy spot or is your balcony high up? If you are not using a real grass pad (you may be using fake grass?), try the real sod potty grass at least until he gets used to going there. You've tried putting pee on the spot; there is always the option of using an encouraging spray. It's made so that the scent makes going potty more appealing. There is the option of trying his feces, too. I would not let Mango go 24 hours without going to the bathroom because you are right - there is the chance of a urinary tract infection occurring. You can try the exercise pen method with a grass pad instead of a litter box:https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy. Mango may feel comfortable there, and then you can gradually move the pad outside. Good luck!

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Arlo
Cava-poo
12 Weeks
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Arlo
Cava-poo
12 Weeks

He sleeps on the porch potty and uses the potty on the porch. We have had the porch potty for 2 days and have had no success. He has had more accidents inside since we got the porch potty than before.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
831 Dog owners recommended

Hello David, First, I recommend moving the porch potty a couple of feet away so that it' not right in front of the door to inside, if that's where it is now (guessing from the picture), since pup will naturally want to sleep close to the door where you are inside. Second, I recommend following the crate training method from the article linked below for 1-2 weeks, so that pup can get into the habit of using the porch potty with your help to learn that it's a bathroom (pup doesn't understand what it is right now, only that it's more comfortable than the ground, so they are choosing to sleep on it due to that). Once pup is consistently going on the porch potty and getting treats for that, you can gradually phase out the use of the crate if you don't need pup to be crated for other reasons, if they are staying outside. Crate training method - this method mentions a litter box, but the steps should be the same when using a porch potty too. https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Finally, if you don't have a non-absorbent bed for pup on the porch, I also recommend adding that, and putting the bed where the porch potty was when pup was sleeping on it, so that pup has a comfortable option to sleep on other than the grass pad. Check out k9ballistics and their non-absorbent crate pads or cot type beds, and look for something like that. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
George
Labradoodle
2 Months
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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
225 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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Jasper
Labrador/border collie mix
4 Months
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Question
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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
831 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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Sampras
Beagle
11 Months
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Question
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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
225 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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