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The Great Outdoors - as a Public Toilet

Man’s best friend often likes to share more with us than sloppy kisses and their little hot water bottle bodies. They like to share that special steaming pile or er…puddle on the floor too. What can we do? Aside from being on bended knee and muttering obscenities under our breath I will outline a few key elements to teaching your dog to use the great outdoors as a toilet and not the living room rug, carpet in front of the sink, closet, behind the front door etc....!



picture of Pugsley peeingFirst we must remember that dogs (like children) need realistic expectations, a patient owner and lots of paper towels. When doing basic training with a somewhat disgruntled owner I liken the whole philosophy to one phrase. “Housetraining is 95% patience and 5% paper towels.” (Preferably the most absorbent kind you can buy.)

A lot of toy breeds don't have full bladder and bowel control until around one year. Larger breeds sometimes get it sooner so expect accidents. By lowering your expectations to a more realistic view you tend to not get hot under the collar as quickly. Thus allowing a more rational approach to what just happened and what will inevitably happen. (You know those times that you really really gotta go?? Imagine that and having to hold it a few more hours.) Dogs are TRYING to go according to our schedules. Doesn't make much sense but until we figure out how to get them to put that darn lid back down and stop peeing on the side of the toilet they will just have to go outdoors.

So we start. This applies to both puppies and retraining adults. Remember this short sentence I am about to share. Say it into a tape recorder and put it under your pillow at night. Write it down and tape it in various locations around the house. Heck, you can even write it on your dog in indelible marker so when you look at him/her you won’t soon forget! (I was just being facetious about the last part and I unfortunately feel the need to add this disclaimer at risk of being sued over a dog permanently being altered by an indelible marker.)


First are the beginnings of why we ignore the bad, even if the bad ends up in a slipper or in front of the door when company is over. Though the most likely scenario is to get the little imp and give him/her a whatfor this can cause a couple of problems.

 ·  It's probably your fault and

 ·  They don’t generally have a clue as to what they did.

So go ahead and whap yourself with a magazine and call yourself a few choice names but most certainly Leave the dog out of it! This also applies to catching a dog in the act. Our first instinct is yell, scream and otherwise startle the poor animal and run outside with them as if we were 20 feet away from home plate and the ball was fast approaching the catcher! But when you figuratively (or literally) scare the poop out of your best friend they end up associating this with WHAT they did and not WHERE they did it. So now they think that going to the bathroom is bad. This can lead to the sneaky behavior of mining bombs in an undisclosed location, only to find it later after it has petrified and your mother-in-law remarks at what a lovely piece of sculpture you have acquired and how nicely it holds her morning cup of tea. Dogs have a funny way of association. So generally what works best is a “Rescue Schedule” to save the house and let the dog know what is expected of them! (They really do need to know this)

 ·  Every hour on the hour outside!This means you too! Even if your yard is fenced. Get off the rumpous and get some fresh air! (Hard if you work I know – but when you bring a new dog home Please try & do it when you know you will be there! Otherwise be even MORE understanding with accidents!)

 ·  Praise like hell when they eliminate outside. I mean it, no holds barred, wiggle your butt, do a happy dance, do the twist, do the curly shuffle. Offend your neighbors in your mismatched pajama’s and recently cleaned slippers with the still remaining stains! After this lavish that little one with treats! Something really enticing! Something even you would enjoy!

 ·  When you first do this – NO PLAYING OUTSIDE! Another hard one to follow. But certainly we want that little urchin to know what the great outdoors is specifically used for. Only after duty is done can play commence. Generally I would say in the initial few weeks limit outdoor play.

 ·  Limit their area in the house while the Rescue Schedule is in force. Keep them close by you, even put on their harness and leash and attach them to your waist or keep them near by. They usually want to follow you around anyway and get their wet noses involved in what your doing.

·  Lastly when the dog still is wont to leave you something special he made himself at day camp. IGNORE it. Pretend you never saw a thing. Clean diligently (I recommend Natures Miracle or a FABULOUS product called 7th generation natural non-chlorine bleach. Both eat up organic stains!) You can move the smelly pile outdoors also. Obviously you can’t do this with pee. Well you could but it may be quite an interesting job.

In addition to the basics we also have separation anxiety elimination, marking territory, bed-wetting, crate training, and incontinence issues. I will be addressing these also as they are most apt to be a behavioral disorder rather than an elimination one. Please email me questions about your particular pup and we will post them here with answers. If I don't know the answer I will find someone who will! Email Me!


I have been training dogs for about 13 years. I have a tendency to enjoy the really rascally ones. Currently, aside from private classes I donate my efforts (and I stress effort as that most likely is the case!) to animal rescue. Each dog is unique and each one a challenge and very fun to work with! Everything I do is positive reinforcement. I did old school and didn't like the results and atoned my ways. (The dogs are happier,) the results of positive reinforcement have been ten-fold. Happier owners, happier dogs and wonderful bonding opportunities!

@2005 Robyn Steward