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Teaching Potty On Command

Here's a smart and unique housetraining aid from PAW volunteers and adopters Tonja Nansel and Lynne Keffer, who have used this technique with great success.


The following procedure may aid in teaching an adult dog to potty outside on command. Here's how it works.

1. Add a small amount (a couple of tablespoons) of something tasty, like chicken broth, or one of the commercially available canine gravies, to a large bowl of warm water. The amount of water depends on the size of the dog. (This isn't an exact science, so some common sense is in order here.) You want the amount of flavored water consumed by the dog to exceed the amount the dog would normally drink at one time out of the water bowl. Consequently, it will go through him in fairly short order.

2. After the dog drinks the water, which most dogs do willingly, crate the dog for a short while, about 20 to 40 minutes. Again, the size of the dog and the amount of water given will drive this. You want to wait just long enough for the dog's bladder to fill. Then take the dog immediately outside and praise him like crazy after he urinates. An extra-special "potty treat," used only when eliminating outside, may also be useful.

This is a great time to start the process of having the dog associate the act of urinating with a word, such as "potty!" and praising him for going in a spot you have taken him to. Use whatever word you choose just as the dog begins to urinate (potty, pee, get busy, etc.), and then praise him as he finishes. A few sessions like this and most dogs are well on their way to figuring out what pottying outside is all about.

Anyone housetraining a dog should carefully watch the dog, or confine him when they cannot watch him, and prevent accidents in the house from ever taking place. This doesn't always happen. Moreover, those with multiple dogs or those involved with dog rescue, who house adult dogs with unknown histories and scant training, often may find themselves trying to correct the dog for eliminating in the house -- while missing opportunities to praise him for doing the right thing outside.

Authorities agree that positive reinforcement is always better than punishment. This procedure -- giving the dog a volume of water, waiting for it to filter through to the bladder, taking him out at that precise time -- allows you to create a situation in which the dog will be able to succeed in performing the correct behavior and then immediately be rewarded for it.

When using this method, you want to be sure not to take the dog outside too soon, as he might not be ready to urinate. (On the other hand, when you do have the dog outside, you may want to let him urinate more than once. His bladder will be pretty full.) And please avoid keeping him in the crate too long, or he might be forced to relieve himself in the crate.

This procedure can also benefit the dog who is prone to urinary tract infections by encouraging the dog to drink more fluids, thereby flushing out the bladder.

Teach Your Dog to Alert You When Having to Potty:

For more help, click on Housetraining.


For more Dog Tips and other information about pet care, adoption and the work PAW does, visit our website at: www.paw-rescue.org

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P.O. Box 1074
Greenbelt, MD 20768

Last Updated: April 26, 2018 (LET) PawSupport