How to Train Your Dog to Have a Potty Spot in the Yard

May 01, 2021     |      Sophie's Circle

a beagle and a toddler are running in the yardTraining your dog to use a designated potty location in your yard can make clean-up activities a breeze as well as prevent messy and unsanitary mishaps. If you have ever had to remove doggy waste from your shoe, you know the hazards of running through a yard to play a game of tag. But, what if your dog only uses a small section for his own private bathroom? Find out how easy it can be to train your dog to do just that!

Before You Adopt
While on the hunt for your furry best friend, it helps to plan out where you want him or her to go in the yard as well as where the waste will go after it has been picked up. Allow enough room for a large dog to walk around. No tight corners where circles will be required, please.

Grass is not necessary. An extra-large area garden box or a wooded section can work as long as the area has soft soil and mulch for walking. Feel the ground to see if you would want to walk on it without shoes or if there are prickly objects that might stick in your dog’s feet.

Add a visual aid to help your dog know where the area ends. This can be a difference in texture such as grass versus a wooded location, a garden border, or a small fence. If you cannot tell where the location ends and the rest of the yard begins, neither can your dog.

Finally, it’s important to assign responsibilities. Draw straws, make a chart, or otherwise determine who wins the daily pickup chore. Leaving the waste for extended periods of time can cause strong odors, make your dog or other animals sick, and teach your dog to avoid using that area because it is already filled. After all, would you want to return to an area where waste already exists? Your dog will not want to go to a dirty location either.

The Moment You Bring Him Home
You’ve found your furbaby! Congratulations! Now, immediately take him or her on a leash straight to the potty spot in the yard as soon as you pull into the driveway and walk around until he or she both pees and poops. Do not shout, giggle, or distract with lots of movement. He or she needs to learn that potty time is not playtime.

This could take a while. Be prepared to practice patience, stay calm in tone and body language, and walk a lot! If your dog is already trained to use a particular schedule, you may not have to take your dog outside right away depending on the time of day. However, you should take him or her out a little early to ensure the excitement of the day is not going to produce an accident.

If an accident does occur, simply relocate the waste to the potty spot to help him or her understand where to go. This process may be necessary temporarily in the early days while picking up the older waste deposits daily. Once trained, you will want to pick up all of the waste each day or at least every few days, depending on the size of the location.

Establish a Feeding, Walking, and Potty Break Schedule
Young dogs will need to walk around their new outdoor potty location more often than older dogs. Puppies usually require a potty break every couple of hours. Adult dogs may wait between four and six hours for pee breaks with at least one poop break first thing in the morning as well as another around dinner time.

Keep in mind dogs that eat throughout the day will likely need an increased number of poo opportunities where dogs that eat at regularly scheduled times can be more predictable with their potty schedule. Exercise will also encourage more waste deposits. Always take a bag with you when you walk.

Use Your Commands
Practice using a low and authoritative tone with each command you give followed by loads of praise when you receive the intended response. This sequence should be used with all training, such as walking, sitting, staying, lying down, etc. Alternatively, you can try a clicker and treat technique.

Ready to Adopt?
Sophie's Circle places some of the most adorable four-legged friends around with their forever homes. Check our adoption page for a good match frequently as new dogs are added often. We look forward to being part of your exciting journey as a pet owner!