Training Your Dog to go Potty on Command
Tired of waiting 10-15 minutes for your dog to do his business in the freezing cold/snow/rain/wind? Does your dog just plain refuse to go outside in inclement weather? The good news is you can actually train your dog to pee and do their business on command, just like any other trained skill. Like any other training, this will take time, patience, and a positive reward system, but the pay off is so great it will be worth it!
Figure our your dog's signal when he needs to go
Dogs typically need to go after eating or drinking, after sleeping or being in a crate for a few hours, and usually after playing. Take him out after these events occur, and look for signals that he may need to go – going to the door, sniffing a certain area, going in a tight circle, or starting to squat or lift his leg.
Pick a "potty spot" and wait
Picking a spot (at least for now) that he always pees in will help him learn that when you go outside to that spot, it’s time to pee. You might need to take him on a leash to make sure he is limited to a certain area.
Take him to the spot and just hang out there, you don’t need to say or do anything. Wait until he's done his duty, and then say your magic potty word (“go potty”, “go pee”, “abracadabra”, whatever you want – just make sure everyone who takes out the dog uses the same word).
When finished, tell him “yes” or “good” (whatever word you use to tell him he did it correctly), or if you are using a clicker, this would be the time to click. Then reward with a treat or praise, whatever is most motivating for your dog.
If he just sits down and stares at you for five minutes, go back inside and try again in 15-30 minutes. This is why it’s helpful to know that he definitely has to go, so you aren’t going in and out all night trying to figure it out.
Continue to take your dog to the designated potty spot and say your magic potty word as he is finishing. Say your version of “good job” or click and then treat and praise.
When he starts to look at you after he’s done, you’ll know that he’s getting a hang of it. This could take a couple days or a couple weeks since all dogs learn at a different pace.
Use the magic potty word as he is going to the bathroom.
Now that we know your dog is getting the hang of it, say the magic potty word as he starts to go, but don’t say your “good job!” word or click until he is finished. We don’t want him to stop mid-stream because he wants the reward.
After doing this for about as long as it took your dog to get the first step above (a couple days or a couple weeks), then start saying the magic potty word as he starts to lift his leg. Don’t forget to continue to praise and reward.
Use the magic word when you go outside to the potty spot.
Now you are ready to take your dog to his potty spot and tell him to “go potty”, “go pee” or “abracadabra” and chances are very high that he will do it. Reward and praise!
Continue to reward him until he will pee on command 9/10 times, then mix up the reward, and eventually you won’t need it at all (although a “good boy” is always nice!).
Generalize the skill (aka practice it in different places so your dog will go anywhere on command).
The more you can stay consistent and keep going to the same spot, the quicker this will happen, and know that if you change your dog’s potty spot, you may have to go back and re-work this skill a bit. Dogs can have a difficult time generalizing, so just because he can go potty in the back yard on command, doesn’t mean he will be able to go potty in the front yard on command the first time you try it. Once he has it down in one spot, start trying other spots to help him generalize the skill.