I Use to Teach Dogs to Pee and Poop in the Bathtub

Say Whaaat?

That’s right!

Way before the sparkly new fandangled indoor doggy “cat boxes” we use to have to teach our Service Dogs to urinate and defecate in the bathtub.

I know you are curious as to WHY anyone would do such a thing?

Well, it was because we would send these working dogs out on cruise ships with their disabled owners.

Cruise ships don’t have an “outdoor doggy” area or grass so working dogs are kind of left out in the cold when it comes to cruise ship fun time, and no one wants a “mistake” while they are out on a cruise; so we use to have to teach these dogs to go in the shower/tub.

This made for easy clean-up for their owners and gave the dog a spot that was socially acceptable; although I bet most people don’t even think about Service or Guide Dog potty habits while they are off with their owners!  Now people can use indoor potty facilities...for more on that click here. 

We would cut a bit of fake grass, take it outside for a few weeks and have them potty on it, bring it indoors and then cut it down and put it in the bathtub or shower area.

Then the dog was NOT allowed outside for a few days and was only taken to the new indoor spot to poop and pee.

This was not easy work!

Dogs that are taught to go potty outdoors much prefer it to going potty indoors, however like I discussed previously, that isn’t much of an option on a cruise ship.

After reading that we will now have some people mentally deciding that it would be nicer to leave the dog at home.  But that is because they have never worked closely with working dogs.  Working dogs live to be with their owners and would die without them; so leaving them home isn’t a great option.  Not to mention the fact that the person actually NEEDS the help and assistance of their dog to be more independent!

So we (as trainers) would go through the painstaking ritual of taking the dog to the “shower” every few hours for potty breaks.  It would have been much simpler to just let the dog outside sometimes, rather than getting up at 2 or 3 in the morning and fumbling to the bathroom with the dog!

WHY is this Important to You?

Because potty training is HARD work!

If I can teach an adult dog, who’s habit and foundation is going outside, to jump into a confined, usually detested space to urinate and defecate, you can teach your puppy or adult dog to go outside (if that is what you desire)!

Sometimes what seems like the most simple task is actually the hardest.

I recognize that adult dogs or dogs that have been imprinted to have accidents in the house are conditioned to fail.  For more on conditioning (habits) read this article.  But I also know that it can be changed if you are willing to do the work involved!

These Service Dogs had also been conditioned to go outside.  Was it difficult?  YES!!! Yes, yes!!

I think sometimes the problem is that we give up on training or work that is difficult.  It is easier to let the dog poop in the house, than it is to get up with them at 1 a.m. or it is easier to let them sleep on the bed (because that is what we want) than to have them sleep in a crate.  Crate training is not always a bad thing, for more on that click here.

But you have to decide: which do you want?  Sometimes we don’t get to have both!  So only you, as an owner can decide which is more important to you.  The key is that then you don’t get to complain unless you train!

Personally, I would rather have a dog in a crate overnight than a dog that has an accident almost every night.  I don’t want to condition this kind of negative behavior, because after a while, it will be much harder to fix.

You can compromise and have your dog snuggle with you on the bed for an hour or two as you watch TV prior to falling asleep but put him in the crate if he hasn’t earned the privilege of being out loose in the house.

As your dog or puppy is successful, he gets use to holding his bladder etc. and not having accidents in the house or at night; so after a few months you may be able to try leaving him out again.  If he does have another accident you will have to regress and go back to crate training or keeping your dog on a leash or tether if it is during the day.

Is it a lot of work?


Is it going to be fast?


But some of the best things in life take a lot of work and determination and I think potty training is one of them!

Other Tips

If your dog is having accidents at night:

  • Try feeding him earlier in the day so that he doesn’t have a full tummy to defecate at night.
  • Take the water up if he has problems urinating at night.  If he doesn’t have a full bladder he is less likely to need to pee.
  • Exercise your dog before you go to bed!
  • Exercise makes the bowels do their job and can get your puppy or dog to poop and pee before it is bed time.
  • It will also make your dog or puppy so tired that he will be more likely to sleep during the night.

During the Day

  • If you can’t keep an eye on your dog, use a crate!
  • Using a crate is easier than cleaning up a mess and it is better not to condition bad behavior.
  • If you can, just keep an eye on your dog.
  • Shut him in the computer room with you or in your office.
  • Give him a job (down stay) or something to play with or chew on and you will be conditioning good behavior!
  • Train him; just spend two 10 minute sessions working on his obedience each day and I guarantee you will see a difference.
  • Exercise is just as important during the day as it is at night for conditioning good behavior and ensuring a tired dog.

Don’t Give Up!!

If you give up, so will your dog and you will both fail!

And, many people give up and these dogs end up in shelters or passed from person to person until they are finally euthanized because the behavior has lasted so long.

Do everything that you can to ensure good behavior and after a short time your dog will be conditioned to good behavior, ringing a bell, and not having accidents in the house!

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  1. Jessica says:

    My 16 week old cockapoo puppy was trained to potty outside our the yard and we are now moving to NYC and she will have to learn how to potty on the pavement. I have tried taking her out first thing in the morning when I know she has to go potty on the pavement but she won’t go. Any suggestions on how I can speed this along?.


    Minette Reply:

    Read this article again if you didn’t and you are just going to have to wait her out until she finds it comfortable. It’ll take some time, but don’t give in and let her go to grass!!! ONLY take her out to the concrete and she will have no choice but to use it.


  2. Joan says:

    I purposely trained my Yorkie (Puddin)to use the shower stall to pee and poop. I am disabled and cannot walk my dog whenever he needs to go. He is going on 10 yrs. old now and he still uses the “potty” whenever he needs to. He does go out for walks with my husband and does his business outside as well. Sometimes he will pee outside then poop in the shower, he gets a treat for each one that way (he is really smart). We now have another dog who follows the same potty behavior. This works out for us very well. I believe in this training.


    Elisabeth Reply:

    Hi Joan,

    That’s amazing. I need to train my adult dog to pee/poo inside. She was trained to do it outside only. She is very cautious of never doing anything inside. I’m wondering how do you even begin to train an adult dog 🙂 Do I start with taking her to the spot where she can pee/poo inside the home as oppose to her regular walks? Appreciate your advice.



  3. Wanda says:

    Hi. I recently got 3 month old female Shih Tzu. Never before potty trained or biting, chewing trained as well. Now I am having the problem that she go to any place in the apartment to do her business. I take her outside and she won’t even pee no matter how long we stay outside. But as soon as we come back in, she will disappear to go. I worked 8-5, so I leave her inside the bathtub, of course, with food and water, but she do not do anything in there at all. I also tried the crate, and it didn’t worked. I took her out of the crate for a “do your business” walk and nothing happened, but like I said, as soon as get inside, she will go. What do you suggest?


    Minette Reply:

    Keeping her with you and keeping an eye on her!


    dee Reply:

    I have the same problem. I could walk her for hours and when I bring her in she immediately goes….frustration!!


    Minette Reply:

    If she doesn’t go outside then don’t allow her access to the house!


  4. Kimberly says:

    Hi There,

    I have a 2.5 year old Dashund female with some history… I am her origional owner and crate trained her until about 10 months old, she did well but was only partially trained (I live in Alaska and it snows 7 months a year)She hates snow and is very resistant to going in the snow, she would almost rather go in her kennel! Now, at 10-12 months old I went through a short live in relationship and break-up and he kept my dog. He believed crating was inhumane, so he let her have free roam of his house all day when he was at work and just cleaned up after her when he got home, he also shared food off his plate (sigh). A couple of weeks ago I got an email stating that he was leaving the country and was offering my dog back to me, of course I accepted and picked her up that night. She simply refused to eat her kibble and begged for whatever I was eating instead, so I started mixing can food in her kibble and now she at least eats it but the begging is still relentless. With potty, she was great the first 2 days, she went potty outside everytime I took her with no accidents, and she remembered her crate training and anticipates rewards when she enters, I even feed her meals in the crate. Well on day 3 we had several fresh new inches of show fall and its just dumped on us since and now she sits there and stares at me when I take her outside. Its cold and I can only keep her out there for so long before its painful for both of us. Then I bring her in to her crate if she didnt potty. If she does potty she gets praise, a treat, and gets to be out of the crate until next potty time. She has had 2 accidents in the house so far and 1 accident in her crate. The problem is that I have to take her out 2-3 times before she will potty even after holding it all night. I go back to school starting tomorrow and wont be home to take her out so much, but she will be crated. Am I going about this the right way? Any suggestions or ideas on successfully retraining And how do I stop the begging??


  5. Sheryl David says:

    I have a 14 week old cocker spaniel Shiqala who will practically pee and poop on demand when outside but when inside if we are busy with supper etc… she doesn’t know how to tell us she needs to go out and will pee on my rug I have tried the bell method but she’s just not getting it. I clean the area she pees in but then she will find another spot. We put her in her crate and she will hold it but again if I’m preoccupied she will just pee any other advise on how I can teach her how to let me know when she needs to go out? Getting very frustrated 🙁


    Minette Reply:

    One of you needs to change their habits, keep an eye on her, keep her locked up when you can’t, let her out every 2 hours and go outside with her, or teach her the bell.



    Cheryl corn Reply:

    Try using a talking doormat. They are on ebay and amazon . Just put under the rug ag it will sound an alarm to go out. I used that with the past three dogs I have owned.


  6. Sheryl David says:

    Ok changing routine I can try but in my original message I mentioned I have tried the bell and she’s not understanding it any other suggestions?


    Minette Reply:

    teaching her to understand, otherwise like it says in the article you are left with scratching which can be destructive and barking which can be hard to teach some dogs and encourages what some people think to be bad behavior.


  7. Cathie Bambra says:

    Hi, my friend has a St Bernard female, one year old. My friend is an experienced dog-person who has had many different dogs but has never had the type of problem that she has with her St Bernard! Her dog pees & poops anywhere she wants to. She can have had a 3 hours walk/jog/free running time and won’t pee or poop until she gets home, then she’ll do it in the garden(not a problem) or in the house and even in her crate! We tried her in a HUGE crate to start with to get her used to the idea that eliminating was an “outside” task. She was in it overnight but pooped in one end and slept in the other. So, we tried a smaller crate but she now poops and then sleeps in it! Not a easy task bathing a St Bernard every morning before breakfast! The dog also likes to eat poop. Not her own but any of the other 8 dogs she shares her life with. My friend has tried changing the diet, putting pineapple in the food, does regular poop patrol, but this dog will follow any other dog about until it performs then……you know what! My friend loves this cheerful animal and we are desperate for any suggestions you may have to explain this behaviour or just help overcome the problem. Thank you.


    Minette Reply:

    Read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/dirty-puppy/


  8. shirley shapiro says:

    I adopted a Yorkiepoo through a rescue service. She is supposed to be about 2 years old and was a stray. She listens to most of my commands in the house. But sometimes she sneaks out and runs away and will not come back when commanded so I have to get after her which is difficult because I use a walker.

    Is this because she was stray and what do I do about this?


  9. Regis Cheong says:

    My Yoshi was just about 4 weeks when we pick him up from his family. The moment we arrived home we had a low-walled fruit box and showed him “t-o-i-l-e-t”. And each time we see him signalling he wants to pee or pool – by going in circles and smelling the area, we emphatically stressed by pointing to the fruit box – “t-o-i-l-e-t” and he would run to the box and poo or pee – “Good-boy” and he is rewarded. This practice went for about to when Yoshi was six months when he showed he knew what to do when he wanted to poo or pee. Now it is a learned habit – wherever he maybe in the house, he would run straight to box (now we have replaced the box with the the pen (ordered online)) to poo or pee.

    As Yoshi has grown in size, the pen is a little small for his size – the poo and pee sometimes lands at the edge of the pen.

    I have no problem in training Yoshi for this particular activity.


  10. Towanda says:

    My 12 month old yorkie likes to poop in my bath tub. I am trying to understand this, for it seems so unsanitary. I thought maybe he mimics me using toilet and since he is always up under my feet, maybe to him that’s his toilet. But I want it to stop.


  11. Nikhil says:

    One of our dogs, Zod is potty trained not to go indoors, but as soon as we leave our apartment he pees in the hallway. Once we exit the building he’ll go to his spot and pee there too. We’re currently using diapers till we get out, but they are not too reliable and I’m worried the building will end up evicting him.
    He’s pretty anxiously outside and won’t take treats outside the house.
    Is there any way to stop him peeing till we’re outside the building?


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