Teach Your Dog to Go Potty on Command

If you happen to live someplace where the winters are really cold (like I do), think about days like this: It’s 10 below, the wind slams you in the face so hard it feels like you’re being pounded by a polar bear, the snow is knee deep so you can barely stand, let alone walk, and now it’s time to take the dog out. Here’s your choice: Do you want to wait 10 minutes for shivering Fido to do his business, or would you rather have him go faster than you can make instant hot chocolate?

Of course, there are exceptions. Some dogs, notably crazy Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, and other arctic breeds, delight in the winter weather However, you’ll still be doing even those dogs a favor, since most don’t like standing in the rain.

It’s surprisingly easy to teach potty-on-command to puppies, but adult dogs can learn too. Stuff your pocket with a few pieces of hot dog or lunch meat. We need the heavy artillery treats for this one to really work. Take your dog out to do his business on-leash. As your dog is actually doing it, in the most excited voice you can possibly muster, say "Go potty!" Repeat "Go potty!" over and over as your dog is going to the bathroom. Just as he finishes going, offer that amazing treat from your pocket. Don’t use this special treat for any other purpose except to train your pooch to potty on command. Now, tell him what a good boy he is. Remember, enthusiasm is as important as the lunch meat.

There’s one more step in this process. Play with your pooch when he finishes the treat. The play session can last as short as a minute or as long as you have time for.

After about a week of repeating the same potty program, become a tad more active. Just a split second before your dog is about to piddle (this requires careful observation), pre-empt him by saying "Go potty!" The truth is he was about to go anyway, but you’re on you’re way to convincing him that it was all your idea. What’s more, for following your instructions you he receives the most amazing treat. Again, follow up with lots of lively praise and a game.

For this next step, timing is crucial. Anticipate, so that just before you’re certain your dog will do his business, confidently command "Go potty." If your dog proceeds to do what he’s supposed to, hooray – you’re on your way.

From this point on, puppies actually catch on faster, but adult dogs will get the idea too. Each time your dog goes outside, wait less and less time before saying "Go potty!" If your dog isn’t ‘getting it,’ and doesn’t potty on your "command," repeat the words "Go potty" over and over again until he does go.

Eventually, you’ll be able to let your dog out in your enclosed yard without a leash; all you’ll have to do is say "Go potty," and he’ll promptly oblige. When your dog does go on your command, continue offering that really great treat until you’re sure he understands the recipe for instant potty.

This process isn’t as tedious as it sounds. It won’t take you long to figure out if it’s worth the bother. Remember when your dog spent 20 minutes sniffing the ground while you were running late for work? I can’t promise you won’t be late for work again. But I can promise you won’t be able to blame the dog,

A final note: This technique is about urinating on command. The same training technique is used to teach dogs to defecate on command, but that’s a trickier issue. You certainly can speed many pokey dogs up, but when nature’s just not calling there’s not much a command is going to do.