Although most dogs are trained to relieve themselves outdoors, it sometimes makes sense to teach your dog to have an indoor potty area. This method is most commonly used by people with very small dogs, people who are unable to get outside easily due to health issues or living in a high-rise, and people who work such long hours that their dog can't reasonably be expected to hold it and wait to go outside.
Generally, we recommend indoor potty training only for owners whose dogs will permanently be trained to go indoors, since it can be difficult to train your dog to go outside once he's been taught that he's supposed to go indoors. If you work all day and can't get home to let your young puppy out, you may be forced to do temporary indoor potty training - or at least partial indoor potty training - until your puppy is old enough to hold it for the full day. We don't want to force him to have an accident, so we'll give him an indoor option he can use while you're at work, but be sure to work diligently on his outdoor housebreaking program at all times when you're at home and able to get him outside.
There are several options for creating an indoor potty area for your dog. The old standby is just several sheets of newspaper laid out on the floor, or you can use absorbent potty pads from the pet store. You can also use a dog litter box or a tray lined with artificial turf. The pros and cons of each are discussed in the article Indoor Potty Options. The general rules for training using any of these options are the same, so in the instructions I'll just use the term "potty area" to mean newspapers, potty pads, litter box or turf pad.
When teaching indoor potty training, you need to be very consistent and clear with Fido to prevent confusion about what area of the house is his bathroom. Outdoor potty training tends to be clearer to Fido because of the obvious differences between indoors - where he shouldn't potty - and outdoors, where he should. But with indoor potty training, the distinctions aren't as clear. Your dog may have trouble distinguishing your floor from his potty area, so don't expect Fido to just get to his potty area and know that he's supposed to relieve himself there. Occasionally you'll get lucky and your dog will figure it out right away, but in most cases you'll need to use scheduling, confinement and lots of encouragement to teach Fido what the potty area is for.
Choosing an Indoor Potty Area
Before you start training, decide where you want Fido's potty area to be. If at all possible, set up Fido's potty area where you want it to be long-term. Although not impossible, training him to use a new indoor area - and to stop going in the original area he was trained to use - is tricky, so avoid having to change the location of his potty area if at all possible. Putting Fido's potty area in a room with linoleum, tile or other hard flooring is better than putting it on carpet, since there may be occasional overflow or misses. In the early phases of training, if Fido's potty area has to be in a carpeted area, you may want to buy a linoleum remnant or waterproof plastic tarp to put under his papers or litter box, to prevent any overflow from getting to the carpet.
Since Fido will be relieving himself in the house, also consider the ick factor when choosing a location. Many people choose the kitchen for Fido's potty area, since the flooring makes training easy and it can be an easy place to create a confinement area. However, they later realize that cooking and eating right next to Fido's poo and pee is less than pleasant. This can work for some owners, especially those with large kitchens, but you'll have to be extra-vigilant about keeping the potty area clean or nobody will ever want to come to your house for dinner again! Other icky areas that should be avoided if possible include right next to your bed (you'll be awakened by the "stink alarm"), a small child's play room, a pantry or other food storage area, and right inside the door where you greet your guests. Laundry rooms and bathrooms (especially if there's one that isn't frequently used by humans) are usually great spots for Fido's potty area.
Another very important note on choosing a potty area: Don't let Fido choose his own potty area unless it's the same one you would choose. It's not unusual to see a potty pad right in the middle of an expensive rug in the living room or to see several all over the house. When asked why the pads are there, the dog owner inevitably says, "That's where he always goes, so we put papers down for him." That's not potty training, that's giving up!
There are two basic methods for teaching indoor potty training. Read the brief descriptions below and pick the method you think will suit you and your dog.
This is the easiest indoor potty training method for most puppies and dogs. You'll create a confinement area where Fido can be left when he is unsupervised. The area will have a bed, food and water dishes, toys or chewies, and a potty area. As Fido becomes reliable about using his potty area, you'll gradually increase his area of confinement until he's loose in the house and reliable about taking himself to his potty area when he needs to go.
The crate training method is a good choice for dog and puppy owners who don't have an appropriate space for creating a confinement area, and for those whose dogs escape from their confinement areas. This method is also helpful for those whose dogs are not responding well to the small confinement area - for instance, they're being destructive when confined or pottying in the bed or food area instead of the potty area. It'll only work for owners who are able to take Fido out frequently for potty breaks.
Purchase Products Related to This Article
The Porch Potty is a nice-looking potty area for indoor or outdoor use. It's a nice size for bigger dogs, but I recommend it for smaller dogs, too, if you have the space. Can be used with the included fake grass, or even better, replacement REAL grass... or sod from the home-improvement store!
Wee-Wee Pads are basic potty pads for puppies or smaller dogs. The built-in attractant scent will help your pup figure out what the pads are for!
|Extra Large Potty Pads
These BIG potty pads are essential if you're pad training a larger dog, but they're also nice for smaller dogs, since they give them more room to sniff around and choose a spot and the pads won't get "full" as quickly!
|UgoDog Potty Tray
If your dog chews up potty pads, the UgoDog potty pad holder will help to keep your playful pup from shredding his pads before he has a chance to use them!
|Dog Litter Box
This is a great litter box for tiny dogs or puppies. Can be used with dog litter, newspaper or potty pads. I recommend getting the larger size, even if you have a teeny dog!
|Nature's Miracle Stain and Odor Remover
Nature's Miracle is everyone's favorite stain and odor neutralizer. Be sure to use this product to clean up all accidents... regular floor cleaner won't fully eliminate the odor!