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How to Quickly Get Your Dog to Poop Outside

By Aviram K.
Published in Training & Behavior
January 7, 2021
7 min read
How to Quickly Get Your Dog to Poop Outside
🏥 The information in this article is not a substitute for professional help.
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Tried going on a walk with your dog, but he just won’t poop outside? Does he hold it in and wait for you two to go back inside, only to soil all over the floor?

I feel your pain.

Luckily, the solution is not too complicated.

Dogs develop a location, smell, and substrate preference early in their life. These preferences are hard to change.

For that reason, you need to create some urgency and take some control over when and where your dog poops. At least until your dog is regularly going potty outdoors without your intervention.

You can do so easily by confining your dog to a crate correctly for short periods. Then, taking him out periodically to the pooping spot you chose for him beforehand, outside.

  1. Give your dog enough exercise during the day.
  2. Choose a quiet place for your dog to poop and go walk there with him.
  3. Be very boring when you arrive—no playing or walking further until your dog poops.
  4. As soon as he finishes doing his business, reward him with treats and praise - and continue the walk.
  5. If your dog fails to do his business within 5-10 minutes, immediately get him back inside the crate and try again in 15-30 minutes.
  6. Rinse and repeat with consistency.

Obviously, there’s more nuance for this:

How Dogs Choose Where to Poop

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The way dogs choose where to poop is based on preferences developed in the past, especially in early puppyhood.

Substrate Preference

Dogs usually prefer pooping on surfaces that feel similar to what they have been used to poop on.

If your dog has pooped on pee pads all his puppy life, for example, it may be harder for him to go potty outside on the grass.

Smell Preference

Dogs also tend to poop and pee where they or other dogs have gone recently.

They’ll actively smell the area around them to try and find the exact spot with pee or poop residue and do their business there.

This applies inside your home too. If your puppy had an accident in your house, they’d be more likely to have another accident in the same place soon after.

Use an enzymatic cleaner to clean the accident. It breaks down the ammonia in pee and helps remove the smell and prevent your dog from detecting the scent and having another accident.

I personally use and recommend using the Simple Solution Pet Stain and Odor Remover.

Location Preference

Aside from substrate and smell preferences, dogs also use spatial cues to choose their potty location.

You may have noticed that your dog usually goes in the same one or two spots every time.

Why Your Dog Won’t Poop Outside

After you understand how dogs choose their potty spot, it may be easier to see why it’s harder for your dog to suddenly go potty outside.

If he’s used to pooping in a specific place inside your house, it’s your job to help him develop a new preference for going potty outdoors.

It takes time, effort, and patience to rewire those preferences.

Aside from that, there may also be a component of anxiety and stress. This can be the case, for example, if you recently adopted an adult dog from a rescue shelter.

Your dog may need some time to adjust to the new environment and rules before he feels comfortable doing his business outside.

Quickest Method to Get Your Dog to Poop Outside

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Let’s start with the basics.

  • Give your dog some exercise during the day, and especially before you want him to go potty outside. Exercise helps get the dog’s bowels moving.
  • Always go to the same pooping spot. Preferably a quiet location.
  • Stand still and be very boring before your dog poops. Doing this will prevent excitement from distracting your dog from pooping. Your dog will get bored and have a higher chance of pooping.
  • Reward your dog generously the moment he finishes pooping outside. Dogs can only learn if you reward them very shortly after they performed an action. Be alert and reward quickly.
  • Only after your dog has pooped start actually walking. The walk is a reward in itself for pooping. By walking first, you essentially teach your dog that fun time is over as soon as he poops. You need to do the opposite!

Now that we covered the basics, here’s the quickest method to have the most success:

Use a Crate

Using a crate is by far the most efficient method for getting your dog to poop where you want.

By confining your dog to the crate for short periods, you can take advantage of dogs’ tendency to not soil where they sleep or stay.

It allows you to create some urgency and control where and when the pooping takes place.

Please note that it only applies if you chose the right size crate. Too big of a crate will allow your dog to stay on one side and poop on the other.

You can definitely stop using the crate after your dog has been successful for a while. Surprisingly, if you do it correctly, you’ll even find that your dog loves to stay inside and considers it a safe and comfortable place to chill at.

It is by no means cruel if you do it correctly and don’t confine him inside for long periods without breaks and things to do inside. Remember, this is only temporary anyway. To learn more, read our full guide on crate training here.

Here are quick steps for using the crate to help you train your dog to go potty outside:

  1. Put some chew toys in the crate to help your dog pass the time.
  2. Put your dog inside the crate and lock the door behind him.
  3. If your dog is an adult, take him out after 4-5 hours tops, and 2-3 tops if he’s a puppy.
  4. Try to be proactive and take him out of the crate first thing in the morning, 30 minutes after meals, and a short while after playtime or naps.
  5. When you bring your dog out, take him straight to the potty spot. No walk yet.
  6. Be incredibly dull where you arrive. It’s not playing time. Wait for no more than 5-10 minutes for your dog to do his business.
  7. If your dog doesn’t poop within this timeframe, immediately go back inside and put him inside his crate. Try taking him out again in 15-30 minutes. Repeat this stage multiple times if necessary. Your dog will quickly learn that going out is not for playtime - only for potty.
  8. Reward your dog lavishly when he poops successfully. Make sure you continue the walk, as it is also a form of reward for your dog.

That’s it. Rinse and repeat.

Within a few days, your dog should have gotten the idea.

When your dog is successful for a week or two, you can stop using the crate if you wish.

If your dog seems to regress, however, go back to using the crate again.

If You Can’t or Don’t Want to Use a Crate

If you really can’t crate your dog or refuse to do it, there’s a second but much less efficient method you can try.

You still need to confine your dog to limited space for any of this to work.

Instead of using a crate, you can tether your dog to yourself or some other fixed object using a short leash.

This will give him some more freedom (and therefore more room for error), but you will still retain some of the benefits of the crate method.

Keep your eye on him. If he starts sniffing the ground and circles the area - take him straight to his pooping spot and use the same process outlined earlier while there.

Getting Your Dog to Poop Outside Even Faster

If you are in a hurry and don’t have time to wait for your dog to poop, you can teach him to poop on command.

It’s pretty simple to do.

  1. Pick a phrase you are going to use as the command for poop. A phrase like “go potty” works fine.
  2. Pick a quiet place for your dog’s pooping spot and go on a walk with him there.
  3. The moment your dog squats and starts doing his business, say the phrase.
  4. Praise and reward him with a treat and some affection.
  5. Repeat with consistency every time your dog poops.

After a while, your dog will understand what “go potty” means, and most of the time, will not waste much time and go right away - if he needs to go potty, of course. 

You can’t force a dog to poop if he doesn’t have to. That’s why you also need to create some urgency by using a crate in the beginning.

Switching from Pee Pads to Pooping Outside

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Due to the location preference dog have for their pooping spot, switching from pee pads to the grass outside may prove challenging at first.

Before you try taking your dog outside to potty, have a couple of days or weeks of gradually weaning your dog off of the pee pads.

  1. Start by moving the pee pads closer to the exit door. If your dog remains successful in doing his business on them, keep bringing the pee pads closer and closer to the exit.
  2. After the pee pads are very close to the exit, it’s time to move them outside.
  3. Once outside, cut them into smaller squares until, eventually, your dog does his business on the ground.

If your dog was successful in all this, congratulations! You now have a much higher chance of him going potty outside the next time you take him out.

If at any stage your dog suddenly misses the mark, you’ve done it too fast. Go back a step and try again.

What to Do in Bad Weather

If your dog doesn’t like to poop outside in the rain, snow, or just cold weather, there are a couple of things you can try:

  • Keep going out there enthusiastically, and make sure to reward your dog with extra praise, attention, and treats after he poops. Soon your dog will probably even like the bad weather because it means more treats and fun!
  • If your dog has short fur or is still a small puppy, you can get him a dog coat. This should keep him extra warm if the weather outside is super cold.
  • Keep a box of potty pads around for cases when the weather is really terrible. It may be a good idea to stay inside during thunderstorms, blizzards, and such. Personally, I always keep a box of 5-Layer Potty Training Pads around in case the situation calls for it.

What to Do If Your Dog All of a Sudden Won’t Poop Outside Anymore

It may be frustrating if, all of a sudden, your dog has stopped pooping outside.

  1. Determine the cause. Has something changed in the environment? Have you recently relocated to another house? Remember, dogs develop a location preference for their pooping spot. If their current pooping spot is no longer available for various reasons, it may take time to get them used to the new one.
  2. Rule out medical issues. If you can’t think of any reasons why your dog suddenly doesn’t poop outside, it could be a medical issue. Things like parasites, allergies, and some other illnesses may cause your dog to lose some control over his bowels and bladder. Get your dog checked out by a veterinarian.
  3. Take one step back. After you have ruled out environmental changes and medical issues, it might be a good idea to take a step back and use a crate. Using the method outlined above will give you better control over when your dog goes potty and train him to use a particular spot again.

Tags

Potty TrainingDog TrainingNew PuppyCrate TrainingHow To

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Dog Behaviorist & Trainer

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