Teaching Your Dog How to Go Toilet in One Specific Area

Here are a few tips to potty train dogs to go in one area:

  • First choose the area to best serve this purpose. The size of the area needed will depend on the size of the dog. A little poodle isn’t going to need the same space as a German shepherd. No hard and fast rules, but try setting aside about 6 lengths by 6 lengths (1 length = the length of dog). This gives them a little room to roam a bit as well as provide some clean area for the dog to work with if you can’t scoop between each potty break.
  • The area can be covered with grass, mulch, gravel or a surface that the dog will accept–some have no problem with just concrete or patio blocks.
  • Can an adult dog be trained to a certain spot? Yes! It’s easier with a new puppy just being house trained, but adult dogs can learn quickly too.

Training Method

  • After choosing the best location, place a scoop or two of the doggy’s ‘doo’ within the area. Make sure there are no other droppings in the yard and water the rest of the lawn very well to remove traces of past urine spots.
  • Choose a command that the dog will understand as potty time, such as “time to go potty” or “do it”, and use this command consistently.
  • When your pup shows signs of needing to go potty (like sniffing around or lowering his butt to go), attach a leash to his collar, take him outside and lead him to the area. Give the command “time to go potty”. For new pups, usually 30 minutes after meals, after exciting play time, before bedtime and first thing in the a.m. are times to go. For adult dogs you know his schedule, work with that.
  • Tip: Take the dog to the spot first thing when letting him outside and don’t let him run around to play in the yard until he’s done his business–keep him leashed. This teaches him to get his business done right away and will pay off for you down the road.
  • Each time the dog performs within the area, give lots of happy praise, playful pats and a treat. Whenever he shows signs of wanting to go in an area that’s off limits, say “no” or “not there” and lead him to his area.
  • If there’s a slip, give no praise, no treat, no attention and no play. Make sure to clean up immediately and water the area well so he won’t smell that spot.

Being consistent and watchful is key and you’ll have to hover over your dog and keep him leashed when outside for at least two weeks to make sure he consistently goes in that spot. After two weeks you can try letting the dog out without his leash and watch. If he goes directly to his spot first to take his potty break, you know the training is working. If not, keep the leash on for another week and then try without the leash again.

After a solid four weeks of perfect performance and close monitoring, you can relax and be confident that the habit is being set successfully. Still keep your eye out though and correct mistakes immediately.


  • Be sure to keep the assigned area clean. Dogs aren’t too happy tip toe-ing through stacks and piles of poo and urine. They like their bathroom areas clean like we do. During training you’ll want to keep a scoop or two within the area so the dog has an idea where to go, but be diligent in keeping the rest of the area clean. Water the urine spots well with water and scoop the poop as it happens, do a daily cleaning and watering if possible. After the habit has been set, you’ll still need to do your part in maintaining the potty area or the dog will start looking elsewhere to do his business.
  • Keep affirming the behavior each time with treats and praise for at least a couple months.
  • Take regular walks with your dog so that he’s also accustomed to doing his business in back alleys or side roads and fields (remember to bring the doody bags to clean up after him). The one thing you don’t want to do is train your dog to think that there is only one spot he can ever go to the bathroom. This will be a real problem if you travel with him or have him stay elsewhere when you’re away–the dog will suffer and absolutely not go potty until his body physically forces him to. The idea is to teach your dog there’s only one place in the yard he can go, not just one place no matter what.

Be diligent, be watchful and consistent. A few weeks of training will provide a lifetime of benefit to you as a dog owner.