How to Potty Train Your Dog to Go in One Spot

dog lifting leg to urinate on grass
Gerard Brown/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

Dogs can make a mess of your yard when they relieve themselves anywhere they want. No matter how hard you try to scoop the poop, there's always a chance you will miss a spot, only to step in it later. Dog pee causes brown spots in the grass, which can be frustrating if you want an attractive lawn. Plus, it's not very sanitary or appealing to spend time in the yard if your dog does his business anywhere and everywhere.

This is especially a concern for parents who need to consider their kids' safety.

How can you prevent dog waste from ruining your yard? There's good news: you can teach your dog to relieve himself only in one specific area. Here's how to do it:

Choose a Spot

Choose a spot outside of the high traffic areas of your yard. The spot you designate should be appropriate for the size of your dog. A small area might be fine for a toy or small breed dog, but larger breeds are going to need more space.

Sometimes dogs choose their own spot. Does your dog often return to one spot frequently to relieve himself? If so, try to make this his toilet area as long as it's realistic for you and your desired yard use.

Keep the Area Clean

It's important to keep your dog's toilet area clean. You can leave one pile in the area during training to let your dog know that's the right spot, but make sure not to leave any more than that.

If the area gets too soiled, your dog may look to relieve himself somewhere else.

Train the Dog to Go on Command

One of the easiest ways to train a dog to go only in one spot is to train him to relieve himself on command. Take the dog to the spot you want him to use, and say the cue word. Keep him in that spot until he relieves himself, and then reward him.

Only reward him when he goes in that particular spot.

Confine Your Dog to One Spot

Just as you don't allow a dog who isn't housetrained to have free run of the house, a dog not trained to go in one spot shouldn't have free run of your yard. The best way to keep your dog from relieving himself outside of the area you choose is to keep him on a leash. Stand in the spot you've chosen, and wait until he relieves himself. Don't let him explore other areas of the yard until he goes. 

Alternatively, you can use temporary fencing to block off the area. Place your dog within the enclosed area and give the potty cue. Let your dog out of the enclosure once he has done his business.

Reward Good Behavior

If your dog relieves himself in the right spot, give him a reward. As soon as he goes, praise him and let him off leash to have some playtime in the yard. If he doesn't relieve himself, take him back inside, and try again later. Don't allow him the run of the yard if he has not relieved himself yet.

Keep an Eye on the Dog's Body Language

During the times you allow your dog playtime, make sure to supervise him. Keep an eye on his body language. Most dogs give a sign that they're about to relieve themselves.

They pace or spin or sniff. If you notice your dog engaging in any of these behaviors outside of his designated potty area, interrupt him and bring him to the right spot.

Dealing with Accidents

If your dog manages to go outside of the spot you choose, be sure to clean it up quickly. Scoop poop or rinse urine with a hose. Don't punish the dog by scolding or hitting. Instead, ignore the behavior and immediately take him inside. Your dog will quickly learn that relieving himself in the right spot means he gets to play, while relieving himself anywhere else brings playtime to an end.

Edited by Jenna Stregowski, RVT