Training Your Dog to Potty in One Place

Training Your Dog to Potty in One Place
March 5, 2019

When you bring a new puppy home the first thing that you’re going to want to teach it is where to go to the bathroom. While it will be an achievement to get your dog to go outside every time at first, there are also many advantages to training them to only use the bathroom in one spot. 

For example, you wouldn’t want them to go to the bathroom on grass as the ammonia kills it, or in a flowerbed or vegetable patch. Other advantages include not spending hours looking for where they have gone to the toilet. 

How to Teach Your Dog to Only Use One Spot in the Yard 

 The best quick and simple method to teach your dog where to go can be taught in three simple steps! 

  1. Let your dog know where you want them to go by marking off a square with chalk or rope in your yard. Make the square at least foot squared or 12 foot for larger dogs. Or, you can pick out a feature in your garden such as a tree which you want the dog to go to the toilet next to. 
  2. Once you’ve decided on a spot, you’ll need to walk your dog over to the spot, if they won’t follow your vocal commands you will be able to do this by leading them to the spot with a leash. Then you’ll need to tell your dog with a vocal command what you want them to do. Always use the same command and try to make it clear for your dog. 
  3. Every time your dog lets you know that they need to go outdoors, watch where they go to the toilet. When they use the designated area give them a treat, and never give them a treat from using any other space in the yard. Consistency really is key here! 

The Method Explained

In the beginning, your pet won’t understand why they are being rewarded, or what they did to earn it; just that they did something right to make you happy with them (such is the canine thought process). 

If your dog is still having accidents indoors, it is important that you spend a lot of time with your pet to toilet train them. If you’re constantly in another room while the dog is using another room in your house to go to the toilet, you won’t be there to tell them to go outside. 

It is vitally important that you catch as many accidents as you can in the early stages of training. Of course, there will always be times when you can’t be there, such as when you are asleep, but giving your dog a toileting habit will help. Such as letting them know to go to the bathroom before bed. This will become part of their routine as well as yours. You’ll also want to let them outside the first thing in the morning too. Your dog will also be keen to go to the toilet after they have just eaten a meal too. 

Your dog should never be left under the impression that they can go to the toilet wherever they can in your home, otherwise they will use that liberty to do it all of the time! 

Helpful Toilet Training Tips

 When you are training your dog it is important that you pay close attention to your body language and how clearly you are giving the instructions. Always ensure that you make appropriate amounts of eye contact with your dog. This will help them to understand what you want them to do. 

Ensure that you always address your dog in a stern and firm voice when you are training them. Losing your temper and shouting will scare and confuse your pet. Whilst using passive tones will allow your dog to see that you’re not in control! Many strong-minded breeds will need experienced owners who have trained dogs before. 

Never use physical reprimands on your dog. Ever. Even if you consider them to be gentle. Your dog will only start to be frightened of you as well as exhibiting the behaviour that you didn’t want them to do in the first place! The only physical contact you should have with a dog during training is gently leading them outside if they start to go to the bathroom, or rewarding them with strokes and cuddles along with giving them treats after they have done what you asked of them.

From a Dog’s Point of View

 If you’re constantly looking from your own perspective, it can quickly become frustrating that your dog isn’t doing what you wanted of them. It makes sense to us, but why doesn’t it make sense to them? Because they are a dog! Their methods of thinking are far simpler. So try to understand how the commands register from your dog’s point of view.

We may think that we are more intelligent than dogs, but they have a much more narrow and rational way of thinking. A lot of the time, they are looking for ways to please their owners. Because they know that good behaviour means treats, rewards, and love! 

This is why reward-based training is so effective when training puppies and older dogs. Practically every dog behaviour expert uses this system to help ensure that you see more positive behaviour from your dog. 

Recognising Your Dog’s Level of Intelligence 

 Every dog breed has a different level of intelligence – yet, that’s not to say that every dog isn’t extremely intelligent because they are. However, due to years and years of line breeding, some dogs have been selectively bred to perform complex tasks. These breeds will definitely catch on a little faster than others. Take the Russian Laika for example. The dog was bred in Moscow in the 1940s for use in the military. Yet, all dog breeds which have been bred for hunting and guardianship tend to be incredibly intelligent. These breeds include Border Collies, German Shepherds, and Pyrenean Mountain dogs. 

Operant Conditioning

 The reward-based training which we mentioned before is a form of operant conditioning. You can see how the process is so effective by using the graph below which illustrates your dog’s method of thinking when it comes to potty training or any other form of training. 

Operant Conditioning

 Psychologist B. F. Skinner was the first to introduce the method of Operant Conditioning. Applying the method to both animal and human minds, he was able to find that the best way to understand a behaviour is to look for the cause of the behaviour. Then, the consequences of the behaviour can be properly assessed. This will lead to an understanding of the processes a mind goes through before a behaviour is exhibited.