Alternative Potty Training Methods

Some Alternative Potty Training Methods You Should Know


Housetraining is teaching your dog to eliminate outside only—he is never allowed to eliminate indoors. However there are alternative potty training methods as well which we will discuss further below.

From the moment you bring your new puppy or dog home, you want to take him immediately to the spot you want to designate as his “elimination area.”

Use your command phrase “go outside” or “go potty.” As soon as he eliminates, immediately give him verbal praise and a reward.

Anticipate his future needs to go outside by tracking his cycle as mentioned earlier.

Whenever it is time to eliminate, take him outside and once again give the command phrase “go outside” or “go potty.”

If your yard does not have a fence, or you live in an apartment, you will want to take your dog out on a leash.

Attach the leash to the collar and say “Rover come” in an upbeat tone.

When he begins to walk, praise him.

Lead the puppy directly to where you want him to eliminate, and say use your command phrase.

Otherwise, he may be confused and think you are taking him out for a walk.

He won’t always eliminate on cue.

In fact, you could spend several minutes outside waiting for him to eliminate.

But until he is fully housetrained, you need to be there with him.

Once he finally eliminates, give him immediate praise and a reward.

If you are taking your puppy to eliminate other than your own yard, make sure that you keep him from going on your neighbour’s lawn, in public recreational areas, or children’s playgrounds.

Always take a plastic bag with you so you can pick up his feces and throw it away immediately into an outdoor trash can.

Female dogs squat to urinate, however, male dogs raise their hind legs and aim at vertical objects, or “targets.” So, be aware of where your male dog chooses to urinate.

Curbs, phone poles, and fire hydrants are acceptable locations. However, automobiles, bicycles, mailboxes, young trees, fences, plants, and shrubbery are not.

If you see your dog striking the pose, gently tug on the leash and keep walking until you find an appropriate object.

Consistency is very important with housetraining. If you are not consistent with when you take him out and where you take him out, it will be hard for your dog to know what is right and what is wrong.


Paper training is when you train your puppy to eliminate on several layers of newspapers inside your house that are in the same spot at all times. Of course, you change the papers after each use, but the key is that the newspapers are always available for the puppy’s use.

Paper training is separate from housetraining. It is not a preliminary step to housetraining. This is a common mistake among people.

The only exception is for very young puppies that are too young to go outside. If you decide to teach your puppy paper training, it then should be used for the rest of his life.


  • People who have a small dog and live in an apartment.
  • Those who are elderly, handicapped, or find it difficult to walk their dog.
  • Dog lovers who have young puppies with little or no control of their bladder or bowel muscles yet.
  • People who have puppies that have not had all of their immunization shots yet.
  • Many adults who work long hours and must leave their dogs home alone.


If you paper train a puppy to go inside with the intentions of eventually training him to go outside, he will be very confused.

Especially, when the change is gradual. If you must make the switch, it is better to do it all at once. That way he knows that the paper way has been replaced with going outside. Otherwise, he might not go outside, but instead go inside where his papers are—or used to be!

When you paper train, select a quiet corner in the kitchen or a bathroom. Make sure that this is a room that you don’t mind being his permanent elimination area. The location should not be in a high-traffic area. After all, everyone likes their privacy!

Cut a plastic trash bag in an approximate 3 x 4-foot area and lay it where you want your puppy to eliminate. Next, lay 6 to 8 sheets of newspaper over the plastic bag and tape down the corners. After awhile, your puppy will recognize this as his elimination area and you can start making the space smaller.

It is essential that you lay the papers down in the same area every time. You will take your puppy to this area when he wakes up in the morning, 15-20 minutes after each meal, after each nap, after playtime, and before bedtime.

Also, if he is ever showing signs such as excessive sniffing or walking around in circles, take him to the elimination area.

At the elimination area, give him his command “go potty” in a pleasant tone of voice. If he wanders off, place him back on the papers. Once he goes, praise him and reward him.

One your puppy has become comfortable eliminating on the papers, then you can start using the “come” command. Whenever it is time for him to go, such as first thing in the morning or after a meal, walk to the papers and say “Rover, come.” He will then know that it is time for him to eliminate.

If your puppy starts having accidents off of the paper, you should start the paper training process over again.


Potty training pads and mats are also used for indoor training. These are absorbent pads that are scientifically treated to attract a puppy to eliminate on it. You can use the same steps for the potty pads as you do paper training. Potty training mats are generally made of synthetic grass and the urine drains through into a tray underneath, This can be emptied and the whole system washed clean.

The benefit to using a potty pad is that it absorbs moisture so you can easily throw it away after use. In the case of potty mats they can be cleaned and reused. Additionally, these are easy to travel with if you will be staying in a hotel, on a boat, etc.


Another indoor dog training method is litter pan training. This is when you train a small dog to eliminate in a cat litter pan. The main benefit to this method over paper training is that a tray filled with kitty litter or shredded newspapers is not as unsightly as soiled newspapers.

A heavy-duty plastic pan is best because it can be washed easily with soap and hot water.

The basic concept of litter plan training is the same as paper training. To make the pan more appealing to your puppy, place a newspaper shred with his urine on it in the pan. Or, leave a small piece of feces in the pan. He will be drawn by his scent.

Let him sniff around, place him in the pan, and say a command such as “Rover, go potty” or “Rover, use your tray.” When he eliminates, praise him.

If he doesn’t eliminate, place him back into his crate for 5 to 10 minutes, then carry him to the pan again. Repeat this until he goes.

Remove the soiled papers from the pan immediately after use and flush solid waste down the toilet.


There are other housetraining methods that can be used too. These are the “bell” and “speak” methods.


The bell method is just what it sounds like—using a bell to indicate when your dog has to go outside. Simply hang a string of bells on the door handle of the door he uses to go outside. Lower it to his level so he can easily reach it.

Then, every time you go to take him outside, take his paw or nose and jiggle the bells. Once you repeat this several times, he will understand that the bells are there for him to indicate that he needs to go outside.

There are some disadvantages to using the bell method. For one, many dogs prefer to play with the bells, so it is hard to tell if your dog really needs to go out, or if he is just entertaining himself.

Second, the bells might not be able to be heard from all over the house. This actually defeats the purpose of having the bells if you can’t hear it from every room.

Third, if you are traveling, you will need to take the bells with you.


This method is beneficial when your dog is already housetrained. When you are at the door to take him outside, say “Rover, do you need to go outside?” or “Rover, do you need to go potty?” Then say, “Can you speak?” When he barks, say “Yes, good boy” and open the door.

You can do the same thing for going back into the house. Be aware though, some dogs think that you are actually playing a game. For example they may “speak” when you just had him outside.

In this case, you need to pay close attention to his elimination schedule.