How to Train Your Dog to Use the Toilet

Hard
5-30 Days
General

Introduction

You’re snuggled up at night, finally drifting off to sleep when you hear your dog moan downstairs. He didn’t want to go to the toilet when you took him out a couple of hours ago, but now it’s the middle of the night he wants to go. If you don’t take him out, you come downstairs to find he’s relieved himself all over your clean floors. If he could go to the toilet in the house though, well that’s one less job each day. He could just take care of himself when he needed to go--what a dream!

If he can go to the actual toilet, you’ll never have to get up late at night again, or early in the morning. That means when it’s winter, snowy and freezing cold outside, you can stay in the cozy warmth.

Defining Tasks

While it isn’t the easiest trick to teach your dog, it isn’t as hard as some people might think. The challenging part comes in showing him how to use the toilet and encouraging him that it’s the quick and easy thing to do. Once you’ve overcome that initial hurdle, he’ll take to it like a duck to water. It’s quicker if he’s a puppy because he’ll be easier to train. It may take just a few days or a week. If he’s older with years of going to the toilet outside under his belt, then it may take a few weeks to drill this new behavior into him.

Get it right though, and you’ve saved yourself a daily hassle. You’ll still have to remember to feed him, but he’ll be more independent than half your kids! It means no more cleaning up a mess on the floor too.

Getting Started

Before you can turn your dog into a fully fledged toilet user, you’ll need a few bits. Treats or his favorite food will be used to motivate him to begin with. You’ll also need a child's plastic potty to start with.

You’ll also need time to commit to training when he’s likely to need the toilet, after meals and in the morning and evening. A good degree of patience will also be required and some anti-bacterial spray for the first few attempts.

Once you have all of that, you can head to the bathroom!

The Potty Method

Effective
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Step
1
Take your potty on walks
Yep, you read that right. Before he masters the toilet, he needs to transition to going inside. So when you think he needs the toilet, place the potty down and keep him on a really short leash and encourage him to go in there.
Step
2
Make it easier
Place some of yesterday's feces or urine in the potty. If he can smell he’s been there before, he’s more likely to go again. Make the potty the only choice. For example, if he hates going on concrete, take him somewhere where there is only concrete and the potty.
Step
3
Reward heavily
When he does go to the toilet in the potty, give him a treat and loads of praise. Don’t be disheartened if it takes a couple of days before he finally goes in the potty, this training requires patience. Just hammer home the praise when he does use it.
Step
4
Take the potty inside
Once he starts using it outside, you can encourage him to use it inside. The first couple of times you may need to put him on a leash and walk him to the potty to make the transition easier. Over the next few days, move the potty closer to the toilet, until you can put it in the same room.
Step
5
Place the potty in the toilet
When he’s got the hang of the potty, place its seat on the toilet then lead him to it. He will want to go in the potty and will do so, but he’ll also be getting used to the toilet. After a week, lose the potty and encourage him to go in the toilet. He’ll probably do it all on his own at this point. When he uses it every time, you can stop giving him treats.
Recommend training method?

The Wee Pad Method

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0 Votes
Step
1
‘Good toilet'
Every time he does his business as usual, say ‘good toilet’ or another phrase of your choice. Say this is an upbeat and friendly voice. He will soon associate this command with going to the toilet and then you can use it before he goes to the toilet to trigger him to want to go.
Step
2
A wee pad
After a week or so, start giving the phrase just before you go out for the toilet. Only this time bring a wee pad with you and encourage him to go on there. They can be bought online and from local pet stores.
Step
3
Encourage and reward
You may need to use treats and words of encouragement to get him to go on the wee pad. If it smells like him and home then he’s also more likely to go on it. Also, ensure you give him some privacy. You wouldn’t want to go to the toilet when someone is staring at you, so don’t stare at him.
Step
4
Bring the wee pad to the bathroom
It may take many days before he gets the hang of the wee pad, but when he does, start placing it in the bathroom. Then give the initial phrase as a toilet trigger and walk him to the wee pad in the bathroom. Continue doing this until he’s comfortable and expects to go inside.
Step
5
Place the wee pad in the toilet
The final stage is getting him to use the actual toilet. But to do that he’ll need to see the wee pad in the toilet first. Leave the pad in there for a few days and then lose it. Then give the verbal command and walk him to the toilet. Once he’s got the hang of it you can reduce the frequency of treats.
Recommend training method?

The Rise of the Potty Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Take a potty with you outside
When he needs to go, the potty always needs to be there. Keep him on a short leash and encourage him to go in the potty. Use old feces and treats to encourage him to use it.
Step
2
Lots of praise
When he does finally go in the potty, give him a tasty treat and lots of verbal praise. The happier he feels after going, the more likely he is to go there again. Practice this every day for as long as it takes for him to regularly go in the potty.
Step
3
Move the potty inside
Place it by the toilet and give him the same encouragement to go. If he has an accident elsewhere inside, don’t punish him, just clear it up and try to get closer to the potty next time.
Step
4
Increase the height of the potty
You need to get him used to going about his business on a raised toilet, so secure at increasingly higher levels. As each day passes, put the potty higher and higher until it is the same height as the toilet. Continue encouraging and praising each time he uses it. Be prepared to wipe up any misfires to start with!
Step
5
Place the potty seat on the toilet
Now he’s used to going to the toilet on a raised station, he’s ready for the toilet. The potty seat will make him feel comfortable the first few times, but then you can lose the potty and just use the toilet. Keep rewarding him until he’s totally comfortable and will use it without the promise of food.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Ray
German Shepherd
13 Months
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Question
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Ray
German Shepherd
13 Months

He poops everywhere. How do I train him to use a potty

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Question
Cloudy
Japanese Spitz
4 Months
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Question
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Cloudy
Japanese Spitz
4 Months

How do I stop Cloudy to bark at night? He sleeps alone in our terrace.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
709 Dog owners recommended

Hello Charisma, First, is he barking for attention because he wants to be with you or is he barking at things he sees outside? How long has he been sleeping out in the terrace. If it has been less than two weeks, and he is just barking because he wants to be with you, then follow the Surprise method during the day to help him adjust to being alone and settle down (don't give treat during the night though). Also, if he doesn't have access to the bathroom out there, after 5-8 hours he may wake up needing to go potty. If he is sleeping for long stretches, then waking up after a few hours, he needs to be taken potty calmly, on a leash, then taken back to the terrace and put back to bed - ignoring any barking after that point since his bladder is empty. Barking to go potty is something he should outgrow within another month as his bladder capacity grows - as long as you keep potty trips boring and don't give him reasons like food, affection, or play during the night to encourage him to wake up for those things too. Surprise method for teaching him to be quiet while alone: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate If it has been longer than a couple of weeks or you are endanger of being evicted due or getting in trouble due to noise bothering neighbors, you will need to take a firmer approach. Follow the Surprise method during the day, but also teach him the "Quiet" command. When he barks, tell him "Quiet" calmly, one time. If he doesn't stop the barking and stay quiet, then when he continues barking or starts barking again shortly after, calmly go outside, tell him "Ah Ah" while using a Pet Convincer to spray a small puff of pressurized, unscented air at his side (not face, and do NOT use citronella - it's too harsh). The puff of air should surprise him enough to make him quiet down for a bit. After you correct him, go back inside and ignore him (you don't want to give any more attention - good or bad, than you have to while doing this. During the day, if he stays quiet for at least five minutes, return, sprinkle a few treats onto the terrace, then leave again. Practice all of this during the day to help him learn through rewards and corrections that he's not supposed to bark but he is supposed to be quiet and calm. Also, be sure to give him a dog food stuffed durable, hollow, chew toy during the day to keep him occupied and less bored. At night only use the corrections calmly when he barks - do not give treats. Yelling also isn't effective - you may accidentally train him to only stop when you yell. If you are consistent about the training while, he will learn to listen to you while you are calm. Surprise method for teaching him to be quiet while alone: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Quiet method for teaching Quiet command: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark If he is barking at other people or animals, in addition to the above training, you will need to work on socializing him and desensitizing him to the things he is barking at. If he is barking at people for example, then work on exposing him to lots of people with rewards and pleasant, calm interactions with them - so that he is less afraid of strangers. If he is barking at raccoons for example, sit with him outside at night and reward him whenever he stays calm and quiet when he sees a Raccoon. All of this advice is assuming he is safe where he sleeps and wild animals cannot get to him. If wild animals can reach him, his barking may be what protects him from them and not something you want to stop just yet, and you may want to consider a safer sleeping space for him at night until he is bigger - such as inside your home in a crate at night. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Kiara
Boerboel
1 Year
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Question
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Kiara
Boerboel
1 Year

I can’t seem to potty train my dog

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

Hi! I am sending you information on potty training as well as crate training. There is a lot of information, but it should help you with this process. The information below is geared towards puppies, but when adult dogs have potty training issues, it is best to just start completely over as if your dog were a puppy. A few weeks of consistency and a fresh start should be all you need to get it under control. 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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