Teach Your Dog to Go Potty in a Designated Area - Pooche Supplies

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Teach Your Dog to Go Potty in a Designated Area

January 22, 2020 5 min read

Teach Your Dog to Go Potty in a Designated Area

Teaching your dog to go potty on command in a designated area is something that can certainly come in handy. This is especially the case in situations where you might be running late for work or driving for long periods with your dog.

Read on to learn about how you can teach your dog to do their business on your cue and in an area of your choice.


The Benefits

You probably already know why you want to train your canine to do their business on your cue, but to give you some extra motivation here are

7 benefits of an on command potty trained dog:


  • It will be easier to clean up your yard
  • You avoid accidentally stepping in your dog’s poop
  • You don’t need to worry that your children might stumble across your dog’s excrement whilst playing in the garden
  • No more long waits outside for your dog to do their business
  • Your garden won’t have brown spots all over the place (because of your dog’s urine)
  • Quick potty time on long car trips
  • Save time when it needs to be quick

Small black-brown dog does poop in the grass. 

Choose the designated “business” area

When you decide on a designated area, consider your dog’s size. If you pick a tiny spot, but your dog is the size of a calf, your dog most likely won’t be happy. An area that is too small will soon become very smelly. In this case, your dog might choose not to go there which makes the training unnecessarily harder.

Your dog might already have a preferred spot to do their business. In this case, you should consider making this area their main potty area.

Observe your dog to find out where he or she prefers to do their business. Many dogs prefer taller grass and soft ground to relieve themselves.

Once you have picked the area in your garden, do not change it. Your dog will get confused and might not know what you want from them.


How to train your dog in 3 simple steps

Teaching your dog to do their business on command is easier than you might think, but it might also require some dedication on your end.

It is important to always use the same ritual. Use the same door to go outside and come back inside, the same spot for business, the same command- and so forth.


Step 1. To begin with, pick a command that you want to signal to your dog to do their business. This could be something like “go potty”. But any word or phrase can work. 

Step 2. Take your dog on the leash and go outside to your chosen place. If your dog can run around freely you won’t be able to properly control where they end up relieving themselves.  

Wait until your dog is ready to do their business. When your dog shows signs by lifting their leg or tail (or whatever your dog normally does), say the cue like “go potty” in a normal voice. 

Don’t say it overly excitedly as this might distract your dog from the actual action and also be sure to only say it once. You don’t want your dog to internalize the command “go potty, go potty, go potty”. 

Step 3. When your dog is finished, saying “yes” or “good dog” or something similar to convey to your dog they have done something good and right. This time use your praising and excited voice. Reward your dog extensively.


Now, the only thing you must do is to be consistent until your dog understands and internalizes this behaviour. You can find some tips below to facilitate the training in this regard.

If you use always the same ritual, your dog will start going to the door to signal that they need to go potty. They will also come straight back inside after doing so to request your praise.

Big white-black dog sitting on yellow flowers, looking over its shoulder in a part. In the background is a small orange coloured tree.

Reward the desirable behaviour

Your dog will learn more quickly and will be more willing to do what you want if there’s something in for them as well. 

After your dog does their business in the designated area, praise your dog with an exciting voice followed by a treat. This can include going for a walk, getting “sniff time”, playtime, or extensive petting time. Whatever it is, reward your dog heavily.


If your dog does not go where you want them to, and you don’t have time to ‘sit it out’, because of obligations such as work, don’t punish them, but go straight back inside. There just won’t be a ‘fun time’ for your dog after they have finished their business.


Your dog is smart and will quickly understand that doing their business where you want them to will earn them extra fun time.


Repetitive ritual is key

Your dog needs the same actions and rituals repeatedly to understand what you want from them. Consistency is crucial. Your dog won’t master this new process if you only occasionally reinforce the right way.

Medium sized white dog wearing a purple harness staying outside. 

Clean up after your dog

After your dog is finished, clean up the poop or go over their wee with a hose. If the designated area gets too messy and smelly your dog will refuse to go there, understandably. 


Tips along the way

  • Learn your dog’s body language when he or she needs to do their business. Observe the signs that he or she usually gives before doing their actual business. Knowing when your dog is about to go will help you to know exactly when to give the command at the right time which is just before they start.
  • Avoid playing with your dog when they should go potty. Fun time must only happen after potty in the right area
  • Find out when your dog usually needs to go outside. For many dogs, this is in the morning or after eating. Take your dog outside to let them do their business whenever it would be usually time for them to go. Go straight to the designated area. Don’t allow sniff or playtime, as we use it as a reward after they have successfully complied. If your dog does not go after a few minutes, go back inside and try again after 10-15 minutes.
  • If your dog refuses to go to the spot that you have chosen, leave some of your dog’s poop there. It will encourage them to go there again.

Small brown dog wearing a red harness, sitting in a yellow flower meadow. 

How long will it take for your dog to learn it?

For a dog that has a habit of going wherever he or she fancied doing so, it can take longer to fully internalize just going to one sport. However, if you just started to do training with your puppy, he or she should learn easily and quickly.


As always, every dog is different and will learn at their own pace. However, how fast your dog learns is also dependent on how consistent you are. If you can dedicate yourself to stick to a pattern whenever your dog needs to go, your dog will understand more quickly, and you might see results after just 4 to 6 weeks of training. But don’t give up should it take longer for your dog to acquire this skill. Some dogs just need a little more time, but they all learn eventually.

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