Dogs never seem to take longer to go potty than when you want to get back inside ASAP.
Many dogs take their sweet time finding a perfect place to poop, and some pups won’t eliminate outside if the weather is bad or you’re somewhere unfamiliar.
Teaching your dog to potty on command is a great way to circumvent these problems.
Not only could it prevent you from spending 10 minutes out in the freezing cold trying to get your pup to pee before bed, it’s a helpful command for traveling and even getting your dog to “go” in a specific spot consistently.
We’ll try to provide a few tips for teaching your dog to poop and pee on command below. But first, let’s talk about why dogs sometimes take so long to go in the first place.
Why Are Dogs So Picky When Choosing a Bathroom Spot?
It can be exceptionally frustrating to not understand why your dog is so particular about where he potties. What on earth could he be searching for? Why is it so hard for him to find the perfect place to answer nature’s call?
There are a few possible reasons:
- The Surface — Dogs raised going to the bathroom on grass might not understand that they can also poop on gravel, pavement, or other weird surfaces. If there’s snow on the ground the cold might be off-putting to him and make his usual potty spot feel wrong.
- Routine — Much like children, dogs thrive on order and routine. So, your dog might only be able to poop after circling the block once, sniffing a lamppost, and barking at that funny looking mailbox across the street.
- Stress — When stressed or anxious, dogs may stop performing a variety of normal behaviors, including eating, drinking, and — you guessed it — going to the bathroom.
- Desire to Be Outdoors — Sometimes your dog puts off pooping because he knows once he’s done you’re going to bring him back inside. If he wants to spend more time outside, he knows he has to wait to potty.
There’s also a scientific explanation for why your dog might sniff around for so long before going. It turns out that the bathroom behavior of dogs is affected by Earth’s magnetic field lines.
As it happens, the intensity of the magnetic field and the direction of the line affect how your dog uses the bathroom. According to one study, most dogs prefer to poop with their spine aligned with the North-South axis of Earth.
Another thing to consider is whether or not your dog is constipated — if he’s squatting to poop and nothing is coming out, you’ve got a different problem. You’ll have to solve your dog’s constipation problem before you can teach him to eliminate on command.
Teaching Your Dog to Poop and Pee on Command
It might seem daunting or even impossible to teach your dog to eliminate on command, but it’s far easier than you’d expect!
Get to Know the Signs that Your Dog is About to Eliminate
Usually, you can tell when your dog is getting ready to potty. He may start pacing faster, circling one spot, or sniffing a spot intensely. Pay close attention to your dog’s behavior and learn the signs he displays before pottying.
The reason you need to know in advance when he’s going to eliminate is so that you can be ready to “mark” the behavior (meaning that you click a clicker, say “yes!” or provide some other type of signal) at the exact moment he starts pottying.
Shaping Potty Behavior
In order to teach your dog to potty on command, you have to start shaping his behavior. This means that rather than teaching him a new behavior (because he already knows how to pee and poop), you will be reinforcing the behavior you want to see more of.
To do this you’ll need:
- Treats, your dog’s favorite toy, or any other reward that he loves
- A clicker (if you use one – a verbal reinforcer like “yes” can work as well)
Keep the treats close to the door so you have easy access to them every time you bring your dog out.
Once you’re outside let your dog do his thing, and when he begins going to the bathroom mark and reward him! Praise him vocally, get all excited, and once he’s finished eliminating you can give him his reward.
Do this every single time he starts to eliminate. He’ll figure out quickly that going potty is a rewarding activity.
Make sure that anyone else who brings him out (such as other family members or your dog walker) is doing things the exact same way as you are — consistency is key!
Associating Pee and Poop with Different Commands
After a week to two weeks of rewarding your dog every time he potties, you can start associating pee and poop with commands.
Why Do I Have to Use Two Different Commands for Pee and Poop?
An important thing to understand about your dog is that he doesn’t know how to generalize. Dogs aren’t great at taking knowledge and applying it to diverse situations.
Because of this, your dog sees peeing and pooping as two completely different activities. That means you have to use two different commands for peeing and pooping.
What Commands Should I Use For Dog Pottying?
There are a lot of different ways to tell your dog to go to the bathroom. Some examples include:
- Go pee
- Go poop
- Go potty
- Do your business
- Get busy
- Pop a squat
- Hop to it
- Tinkle time!
Pick one command for pee and one for poop and be consistent with using them.
From now on whenever your dog begins peeing you should mark the behavior (click your clicker or say “yes!”), use the chosen pee command, and then praise him. The same thing goes for pooping.
This is the part that will help cut back on the time you have to spend waiting for him to go.
Why Should You Try to Teach Your Dog to Poop and Pee on Command?
Going out of your way to teach not one but two new commands may feel like a far fetch (pun intended!) just to get your dog to potty faster.
Still, your future self will thank you for the ability to tell your dog to do his business in the middle of a blizzard so you can book it back inside.
In addition to convenience, having potty commands provides several practical benefits too.
People who travel with their dogs would absolutely benefit from potty commands.
Taking your dog out of his environment and asking him to go to the bathroom in a whole new space isn’t always easy. It goes back to dogs not knowing how to generalize, and the stress that travel can add to it.
Instead of having to wander around until he’s comfortable, you can just use your potty commands to help expedite things.
Potty commands also help when it comes to the airport — most major airports have a service animal relief station inside that can be used to give your traveling pup a potty break.
However, using an indoor relief station may be pretty tricky if your dog doesn’t have potty commands.
Trying to train a dog to poop in a designated area in one session probably isn’t going to be successful, so you’ll want to train your four-footer beforehand.
Service Dogs and Therapy Dogs
One of the major rules for working dogs is that the dog has to have solid potty training skills. The last thing any handler wants to experience is the embarrassment of their dog pooping inside a store, restaurant, or hospital.
Using potty commands can help ensure that a working dog has an empty tank, so to speak, before entering a public establishment.
What Kinds of Things Encourage Dogs to Poop and Pee?
Understanding what activities trigger your dog’s potty dance is helpful during any kind of potty training. Knowing when your dog might go to the bathroom before he does it can prevent inside accidents and accelerate training.
Some things that may stimulate your pup to potty include:
- Eating and drinking
- Exploring with his nose
- Waking up from a long nap
After these activities, take your dog outside and see if he’ll hop to it. These are great training opportunities.
Do Dog Poop Training Sprays Help?
There are a few dog poop training sprays on the market that claim to encourage pups to potty where the product is sprayed. Unfortunately, they rarely seem to work well in practice.
It would probably be harmless to try, so if you think it could work then give it a shot! Worst-case scenario: The spray doesn’t work, and you’re out a few bucks.
Overall, potty training a dog to go outside faster is convenient but it takes consistency and patience. If you and your pup can get through it in the long run, it’s worth it.
Does your pup have potty commands? How has it changed your daily routine? Let us know in the comments!