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Ask the Trainer: Teaching Your Dog to Potty on Command

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“Hi Steve, How do I get my dog to go to the bathroom when I say so?” – Trisha Y. 

This is a surprisingly common question that comes up in conversation with my clients. Many owners really like the idea of their dog going to the bathroom on command. I personally do not care, I just take them outside for a walk or play/training session, and allow them to go to the bathroom whenever they are ready. Once you teach your dog the “go potty command”, I would not use it every time you take your dog outside. I would view it as a nice luxury for when you are in a rush or during inclement weather.

In order to teach this, you must treat it as if you were teaching any other obedience command. What does this mean?  We are going to follow the tenants of dog training: Consistency, Timing, & Motivation.

  1. Name the command. Choose a word or phrase that you are going to use consistently, as your potty command. Call it whatever you want, some people say, “Go Potty”, “Time to Pee”, “Get Busy”, etc.  

Two of the biggest mistakes owners make are that they repeat the command excessively and prematurely. That means, don’t stand there repeating, “Go Pee, Go Pee, GO PEE!” That is not helping and actually counterproductive.

  1. Calmly (as not to distract or interrupt your dog) state the command just as your dog is starting to go to the bathroom – literally as they begin lifting their leg or squatting down.
  2.  As soon as your dog finishes going to the bathroom, reward with pet/praise and a treat. You cannot wait until your gets back inside to give the treat, as too much time would have elapsed. You must reward immediately.  

This is a very practical command to teach, as you will be taking your dog or new puppy outside to go to the bathroom multiple times each day anyway, so this is just a simple thing to add on. Keep in mind, just as easy as it is to teach this, you can teach your dog any of the other obedience commands to make your life easier.

Professional Dog Trainer Steve Reid and owner of Westchester NY dog training company, S.R. Dog Training. For more info www.srdogtraining.com and “Like” Steve on: www.Facebook.com/SRDogTraining.


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