How to Train Your Puppy to use a Toilet

By Rachel Asher

Sick of taking out the dog, picking up poo or looking for a new trick? Why not teach your dog to use the toilet? It may sound silly, but with a little patience, and a lot of encouragement, you can potty train your furry friend. By taking the time to teach your dog each of the steps below, you'll find that teaching your dog to use the toilet isn't just handy, but a fun way to spend time with your favorite pet.

The first step to toilet training your dog is teaching it a code word. Just like "sit," "come," and "stay," your dog can learn to associate a word with going to the bathroom. With different dogs, I've used everything from the girlier "Go pee pee" to a brusque "out." Pick a single-syllable word. It's easy for you to remember, and more importantly, for the dog to understand. If you don't take your dog out with a leash, start now, and bring him or her to the same spot every time. You're aiming for both word and place association here. If you've ever heard of Pavlov's Dog, that's basically what you're doing. But instead of ringing a bell every time the dog eats so it eventually salivates at the sound of the bell, you're saying "Pee pee" every time your dog produces waste. So stand outside with your pet in your special bathroom spot, and each time he/she excretes, repeat: "That's a good pee pee, Brutus," or "Good pee pee, Cinderella". Positive reinforcement and repetition are key here. Eventually, just saying "Pee pee" will make your dog want to go to the bathroom. You'll know it works when you're sitting on the couch in the evening and look at your dog, and say, "Pee pee?" and your dog is ready to go out. When this happens, you're ready for Step 2.

Take a plastic tub or wee wee pad, at least two inches deep, and put it in your dog's "out" spot. When you take Fido out, continue using the code word and get him used to peeing and pooping near the tub or pad, Then, even if you ease him in, one paw per-day, get him to pee and poop while standing in the plastic tub or wee wee pad. You're going to have to give it a rinse out, and I'd suggest using dish soap and water to keep it clean while you're going through this process. Going to the bathroom in a tub or wee wee pad is not a natural feeling for your dog, so give him/her lots of love, praise and encouragement while it figures it out. Princess probably thinks you're crazy, but she loves you, so she'll follow your lead eventually. When she gets into the tray to do her business without flinching, you're ready to move on.

Now that your dog is comfortably relieving itself in a plastic tub or wee wee pad, bring it inside and move it next to your toilet. Let your dog get used to this for a few days or even a couple of weeks. This training exercise has a few major steps, so pay attention to your dog's learning level and be patient. There may be some accidents now that you're inside, and after each one, issuing a firm, strong "No," with the scary voice your dad used to use will be sufficient. If you didn't catch the dog in the act, leave it be. Disciplining your dog when it has no clue what you're talking about won't do your dog any good, and it will only make you frustrated when it makes the same mistake again without learning.

Now that your dog is going to the bathroom in the tray/tub next to the toilet, raise the tray/tub up, six inches at a time, until it's level with the toilet. Whatever you use to raise the tray up, be sure it's sturdy enough to support your dog. Scare him/her with a loud crash or an un-sturdy tub, and you'll have to earn your dog's trust all over again. Cinder blocks or bricks work well for this, and they're easy to add every time you raise the level. Once your dog is up at toilet level, move the tub or wee wee pad onto the toilet for a few days. Next, raise the seat up and balance the tub or pad onto the toilet bowl rim. If all systems are go at this stage, remove the tray and leave the toilet seat up. Your dog will start balancing itself on the rim of the toilet bowl and go to the bathroom in the toilet.