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.
Obviously, there’s more nuance for this:
The way dogs choose where to poop is based on preferences developed in the past, especially in early puppyhood.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Let’s start with the basics.
Now that we covered the basics, here’s the quickest method to have the most success:
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:
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
It may be frustrating if, all of a sudden, your dog has stopped pooping outside.