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Potty Train in One Spot For Your Dog

How to Potty Train In One Spot

Meme with dog telling owners it's time to go potty. Potty train in one spot.

Dogs can make a mess of your yard when they relieve themselves anywhere they want. Dog pee causes brown spots on grass and makes your lawn less attractive. There’s also the chance that you’ll miss some poop with the scoop, only to step in it later. Plus, it’s not very sanitary or appealing to spend time in the yard if your dog does their business anywhere and everywhere, a particular concern for parents. Fortunately, you can potty train in one spot that you select.

illustration of how to train you dog to go potty in one spot

Choose One Spot to Potty Train

Choose a dog potty spot outside of the high traffic areas of your yard. The spot you designate should be appropriate for the size of your dog. A small area might be fine for a toy or small breed dog, but larger breeds are going to need more space. Your dog won’t want to keep peeing and pooping in a tiny area that becomes very smelly and dirty.

Dog going potty in a too small of an area for the dog.

Sometimes, a dog will choose its own spot. If your dog often returns to a particular area to relieve itself, try to make this the toilet area. Just make sure the chosen spot is realistic for you and your desired yard use.

Keep the Potty Spot Area Clean 

Funny dog cleaning up poo.

It’s important to keep your dog’s toilet area clean. You can leave one pile in the area during training to let your dog know that’s the right spot, but make sure not to leave any more than that. If the area gets too soiled, your dog may look to relieve itself somewhere else.

Potty Train In One Spot With Command

Observe the Dog’s Routines

Start by observing your dog’s physical cycle. While you can teach your dog to eliminate on command, you can’t force a dog to eliminate when it’s not physically ready to do so. In addition, you’ll need to understand your dog’s outdoor behaviors: What does it do in preparation for eliminating?

  • Are there times of day when it seems to need a walk?
  • When you take it outside, when does it urinate or defecate?
  • Does your dog need to poop multiple times a day?
  • Is there a particular time of day when you can pretty much expect your dog to poop?
Gif of a puppy smelling around, getting ready to potty.

Whenever you take your dog out to relieve itself, pay attention to its behavior. Dogs usually let us know when they’re about to go by doing things such as spinning, sniffing, or pacing back and forth in one spot. Figure out the signs that let you know your dog is about to relieve itself.

Set a Regular Schedule

It’s easiest for a dog to learn to eliminate on command when it can anticipate a walk. It’s a good idea to have regular walk times; many owners walk their pets first thing in the morning and the last thing at night, and add in a couple of additional walks at convenient times after work or school. Even if you live in a safe area and your dog doesn’t actually need a collar and leash, it’s a good idea to use both during the training period. This will ensure that your dog doesn’t wander off or get distracted as it learns to eliminate on command.

Add a Command

Once you know what behaviors will precede elimination, it’s time to add the command. Wait until you see your dog pacing or spinning, and give the command “hurry up,” “time to go,” or any other command you choose. Say the command clearly and wait until your dog relieves itself.

Dog hearing the command to go potty and going to the correct area to potty.

Reward Good Behavior

Owner giving treat to dog when they potty when they are supposed to.

As soon as your dog goes, reward it. Give your dog lots of praise in a happy tone of voice and maybe a treat or two. Be sure the reward is something your dog will really enjoy and work for, as it will take some practice for your dog to learn to poop on command.

Practice the Command

Cartoon illustration with owner giving the command for the dog to go potty.

This command may take a little longer than some others to teach a dog simply because you can only practice when your dog has to go. To get the fastest results, you need to be consistent. Every time you take your dog out, wait for the signals that it’s ready to go, and then give it the “hurry up” command. Be sure to reward it for going potty immediately. If multiple family members walk the dog, be sure they do exactly the same thing, using the same commands at the same time. Avoid allowing your dog to eliminate outside on its own during this training period.

Problems and Proofing Behavior

After you’ve practiced the command over the course of several days, you should notice the time between giving the command and the time your dog relieves itself getting smaller. It’s time to test the command.

On your next trip outside, take your dog to the spot where you want it to go, and give it the command without waiting for the pacing or spinning or other signals to begin. If your dog has a good understanding of the command, it should relieve itself quickly. If not, go back to practicing for a few more days and then test it out again.

Funny kid patting dog for going potty in the correct area.

Once your dog seems to have a good grasp of the command, you can make sure that it goes in a timely manner. Start rewarding it only after those times with a short gap between when you give the command and when it relieves itself. If you give the command and it spends several minutes sniffing around before going, it should not get a reward. The dog will quickly learn to go as soon as possible once you give the command.

Confine to Potty Train In One Spot 

Owner holding on to leash with dog going potty to keep in that one area.

Just as you don’t allow a dog who isn’t house trained to have free run of the house, a dog not trained to go in one spot shouldn’t have free run of your yard. The best way to keep your dog from going outside of the area you choose is to keep it on a leash. Stand in the spot you’ve chosen, and wait until the dog goes. Don’t let it explore other areas of the yard until that happens. 

You can also use temporary fencing to block off the area. Place your dog within the enclosed area and give the potty cue. Let your dog out of the enclosure once it has done its business.

Reward Good Behavior 

Cartoon illustration of dog getting praised for going potty in the correct area.

If your dog relieves itself in the right spot, give it a reward. As soon as the dog goes, praise it and let it off leash to have some playtime in the yard. If your dog doesn’t go, take it back inside and try again later. Don’t allow your dog the run of the yard if it has not gone potty yet.

Read Body Language 

During the times you allow your dog playtime, make sure to supervise it. Keep an eye on the dog’s body language.

Funny puppy asking to go potty with a miserable face.

Most dogs give a sign that they’re about to relieve themselves. They pace or spin or sniff. When you notice your dog engaging in any of these behaviors outside of the designated potty area, interrupt it and bring it to the right spot.

If your dog eliminates before you can stop it, then stop playtime and bring the pup indoors. Alternatively, if the dog holds it and does its business in the proper area, remember to reward it.

Problems and Proofing Behavior 

Puppy asking play time is over because they went potty where they shouldn't.

If your dog manages to go outside of the spot you choose, be sure to clean it up quickly. Scoop poop or rinse urine with a hose.

Don’t punish the dog by scolding. Instead, ignore the behavior and immediately take it inside. Your dog will quickly learn that relieving itself in the right spot means it gets to play while going anywhere else brings playtime to an end.

You can proof this training anytime you are not at home with your dog. For instance, when visiting someone’s home, ask them where they prefer your dog to go. Take your dog to that spot, give the potty command, and wait. The same can be done in a public park by selecting an out of the way spot. Of course, you need to pick up after your dog no matter where you are.


If you are training a puppy or adult dog that you recently welcomed in your home, here are the basics to start off. https://doggeekworld.com/2020/09/26/bringing-your-new-pup-home/

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