How to Teach a Dog to Poo

Adult dogs thrive on routine, especially during training.

Adult dogs thrive on routine, especially during training.

If your dog has not been house-trained, teach him the finer virtues of an outdoor poo. Pooping in the great outdoors is an acquired taste for grown dogs, but if you're patient and consistent, he'll be gleefully leaving packages all over town in no time.

Take him outside often, and every time you put his leash and collar or harness on him, give an easy command, like "outside." Dogs learn through repetition -- not as quickly as puppies do, so be patient -- and eventually, he'll associate the word "outside" with "time to go outside and do my thing."

Walk him for a good, long time. You can't just stand with him in the yard for a few minutes and expect him to go. Take him around the neighborhood, let him sniff and stretch his legs, and give him time to find a good spot to drop his bomb. If he doesn't poop before you go back inside, try again in 20 minutes.

Celebrate every time he poops outside. Act like he just won the lottery, and wants to give you the winnings. Use familiar words and phrases, like "good dog," that you use during other training exercises. Rub his ears, praise him like crazy and give him a special treat that is exclusively given out after a successful poop. You may feel silly, but if you do this every single time, he'll get the message: Pooping outside is awesome! Dogs respond to positive reinforcement like this much, much better than negative reinforcement, like punishment for pooping inside.

Feed your little guy on a schedule. Remember the thing about repetition -- dogs love routines. When you feed him, put the food out at his normal time -- he should eat once in the morning and once in the evening -- and leave it there for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, pick up the bowl whether it's empty or full. This reinforces your role as top dog in the house, and shows him that you make the rules. Also, if he only eats at a certain time, you can start to predict how long it will take before he's ready to go potty.

Watch your dog carefully while you're housebreaking him. This is because if he starts to poop inside, you need to catch him in the act -- scolding him after the fact is completely worthless. If you see him start to go indoors, catch him off guard with a firm and sudden "no" command, then immediately take him outside. If he finishes his pooping out there, praise him just like normal. Remember -- positivity is a better training tool than negativity. If you catch him pooping inside, your goal isn't to punish him, but to stop him.

Clean anywhere that he poops indoors thoroughly and immediately. Not just because it's gross, but also because dogs tend to go in the same place more than once -- it's a scent thing. Whether you have carpet or something else, you can buy enzymatic cleaning solutions that sterilize the area and neutralize the odor, even for his sensitive schnoz.

Items you will need

  • Small treats
  • Pet-formulated cleaning product

Tips

  • Always be patient, no matter how long it takes. For an adult dog who's never been housebroken, this process can take weeks or even months, which is why it's so important that dogs be trained as puppies.
  • If you have a private yard, you can discard your dog's indoor poops by leaving them in the grass. This way when you take him out, he sees and smells the poo and feels motivated to leave another one in the same place.
  • Take your dog to a vet, just to make sure that everything checks out physically. Your dog could always be pooping indoors because of a medical condition like intestinal parasites or inflammatory bowel disease.
 

About the Author

Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

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