Freddie’s Tips for you on Potty Training your Pets

A couple years ago, when dogs were wolves & cats were living in the lap of luxury in Egypt, where your pet used the bathroom was pretty much already determined. Dogs went anywhere in the great outdoors with no limits, shaming from humans, or thought to the trouble they might be in if they had an accident. Cats lived in desert climates, so sand was everywhere. They could “pop a squat” where ever the mood, their legs, and desire, took them. The Pharaoh’s and their royal court didn’t care, there were slaves and serfs to handle anything that was dropped either on purpose or in the moment. Life was pretty simple.

Fast forward a few hundred, thousand, or whatever timeline you subscribe to in years, and the rules have changed quite a bit. Sure, wild animals still go freely in their habitats, feral cats and dogs follow no mans rules, but domesticated pets have a strict set of human made policy and rules. We all know the drill… Cats have litter boxes for indoors, and if the cat goes outdoor its a free for all… as long as their humans don’t see/smell/acquire by accident/step in the offending poo. Dog’s live a different sort of potty stress. They have transitioned into a mostly indoor life, so they have a couple options… signal the need to make a visit to their assigned “pooping field” and insist upon relief until someone caves and opens a door, use a designated “pee & poop” pad (and hope nothing gets astray from the 12”x12” drop zone), or hold the mess for the nightly walk and then watch there people pick it up, marvel at it, and then toss it in the trash. Dog’s have quite a gig… when they use the bathroom as they are trained, there is the obligatory praise and treats (which creates more poop. It’s an endless cycle… not unlike the circle of life, but with potty drops).

Let’s face it, we have become slaves to our pets and their excrement needs. Cats marvel at their power over humans, as they watch with glee as litter boxes are emptied, scrubbed, washed and refilled. Once the box meets the feline inspection, they happily, and immediately, jump in to toss litter around with an unbridled joy. Some cover, and cover, then cover again… theirs and anyone else s that might drop in. Others refuse to cover it so owners have to face the music and smell until the people cover it up for them. Don’t think they don’t know exactly what they are doing, it’s all part of the Cat World Domination Plan. They are working on the physiological inroads of human emotions with the end goal of driving us all crazy. So far, its working!

Dogs are a different type, as they mostly want to please. They are easily shamed, try hard to obey, and will hold their stuff until there is no other option left but to “drop the kids off on the rug.” If they have an accident, a dog will attempt to hand off blame to anyone, anything, or pretend it doesn’t exist… but when they are forced to face their mistake, they are immediately remorseful. A dog using the outdoors as their personal toilet will sometimes attempt to cover with a grass throwing, dirt digging, joy festival of raw emotion that is hilarious to watch. Others choose to drop and walk away, leaving secret poop bombs in awful locations that are hidden in plain sight. Day or night, no human is safe from these “Stealth Poops” and their precision dropping in clandestine locations… sitting in wait for a barefoot person, or someone on their way to an important event, the BOOM… the trap is sprung and someones foot or footwear in a scared & scarred victim. Most dogs feel badly after these landmines are uncovered… but there is a certain game “afoot”, so to speak.

So what’s a pet parent to do? Like the T-shirts and coffee mugs say “Poop Happens.” The real key is getting in front of the need, having a most efficient and timely plan to corral such droppings, and then insist the animals follow the directive and get into a routine. We all know its not foolproof, but with correction and praise, monitoring and assurance the designated areas are accessible and cleaned regularly, the majority of this nature driven task goes off like clockwork.  Pooping can be fun for everyone involved… or at least not “un-fun.” All you need is to understand how your pet works, then make it easy for them to squat, drop, and repeat. And that is where our #FreddieSez team come into the picture. We’ve went out into the universe of the world wide web to find some tips on how to potty train your dogs and cats. We’ll share a few of our favorites for those who are struggling to “get Rover Regular”, or “Keep the Feline in Line.”

Let’s Talk about Dogs

Dogs have different classifications and categories when it comes to potty training. We’ll list the steps by age and/or maturity… as those are where the differences in your training techniques and the pets needs change.


Dogs can be considered puppies for up to two years, but the key training time for young dogs is in their first 12 months. The earlier the training routine starts, the better they will accept the training and respond.  It’s not hard to train a puppy if you’re diligent and keep to a schedule.

  • Tip One – take the dog out often. When they are young they are just like human babies… bladder control is hard. Their bladders are small and the urge to pee comes quickly.  Multiple trips out after important events like eating, sleeping, drinking, or playing starts to develop mental triggers that the dog can recognize. Eat, then poop. Drink, then pee. They become very used to that routine, especially if you make a giant event out of moving their need to “get it out” to the great outdoors. The start to recognize and respond to key words like “outside”, “potty”, “door”, or “pee pee.”

  • Tip Two – crate train.  Crates are not cruel, unless a pet is locked in a cage and never allowed out/never socialized/ignored. Crates are actually great help in training because, a pet golden rule should be “one does not poop and pee where one eats and sleeps.” (but isn’t that great rule for everyone, regardless of the species??) The crate becomes a safe place, their sleeping room, a place with a water source, toy and snack outlet, and general starting point for fun.  If they are locked in their crate, the minute they come out, it’s to the great outdoors (again, with much excitement and praise).  Just before crating for a nap or longer stay, it’s important to take them out. These events become ingrained in the poop/pee routine.

  • Tip Three – Tie leash wearing to potty time.  Leash them up with a standard lead to fit their size. If your back yard is wide open, you don’t have to hold the leash while they are out. The idea is two-fold. First, you get them used to the weight and restrictions of the leash. This will help with easing them into a leash lead walk routine. Secondly, they start to associate the act of leashing with outside, potty, and fun. Come on, be honest, if pooping and peeing was fun for humans… wouldn’t we all want to do it more often? The lead size and weight needs to gradually change to match the dogs size, and you will need to get them used to the pressure, pull, weight and response needed to walk on a leash. DO NOT use retractable leashes. They are bad for a dog in so many ways and they can cause injuries to pet and owner.

  • Tip Four – Get into the training yourself. Your role as human, master, best buddy, the object of their focus, the recipient of their desire to please, is crucial to success. You have to be upbeat, fun, positive, and praising all the time when success and growth is on show. Make it a potty party if the dog meets the goal (and sometimes even if they just try hard).  Dog’s love to make you happy, and to see you light up when they do the right thing is HUGE in their development. On the other end of the spectrum, you CANNOT scold, yell, shame, or punish the dog if they fail. Sure, withhold the praise and be stern with your commands but remember… they don’t speak English. Be the kind of owner you would want if you were a dog.  Also, it is your responsibility to monitor your puppy at all times. If you see signs of impending potty (sniffing, circling, standing at the door to outside, staring at you, whimpering or crying), then act to get them outside. Again, they don’t speak English… so don’t blame a dog that has done everything but attempt to drag you to the door, if they have an accident. That’s on YOU my friend. See the last bullet about being the kind of human you would want to live with if you were a dog. Lastly, keep those schedules and have a backup human who can follow the same routines with the same methods. The more their life is routine, the faster potty training will come to a puppy.

Adult Dogs

If you bring in a new “adult” dog (over two years old but not classified as a “Senior” animal), some of the steps to potty train are the same, but some are a bit different. You likely have no idea of their previous life, how they were trained, what the expectations were, or how they were treated, so go easy and be diligent. Training a new Adult Dog in your environment could be a bigger challenge.

The same rules of “routine, routine, routine”, the use of a crate as a calming force and their “property” or safe space is key. However, don’t make the cage a punishment… you don’t know how confinement was used in their previous life.  Set that same type of schedule so they know what is expected and when. Just like a puppy, the older dog will adapt and likely love the structure of the routine.  The use of a leash may not be needed, as older dogs may already have an understanding of a lead.

  • Tip 1 – Feed on a schedule. Food = Poop, so having set meal times should mean set poop times, and set outside times/leash times. In the same way, crate time should be as scheduled as possible to drive that routine of “potty before cage/potty when you come out.” (if you are anti-crate, or your older dog rejects or is beyond the need… you can use baby gates to limit the roaming space, then gradually increase their space size as they succeed)

  • Tip 2 – When they are leashed, they are attached to YOU. Once they are on that leash, you are in charge of the walk/poop/pee activity.  This will quickly establish YOU as part of the routine, and the one who is leading. They will get used to the distance and the weight of the lead, plus the feel of your commands. The lead needs to be positive, so don’t be a back seat driver and pull/yank/drag, and be positive. Once the older dog “does the deed”, you need to be even more over the top with joy and praise than with a puppy. You’re likely unteaching bad habits and creating a happy experience associated with potty time.

  • Tip 3 – Be positive at all times, watch for the signs of a need to go.  We talked about this in the previous segment with puppies. With an older dog, it’s even more key.  You’re shifting them to YOUR upbeat and happy style. Once they trust you full and buy in, training becomes easier because they want to please and gain your praise. Watch the older dog for signs, and know that they may be hiding the signs because of previous treatment at potty time. YOU are the key to changing this dogs world, so NO SCOLDING or negativity. Just love them and help them learn.

Senior Dogs

A senior dog is beyond the age of 8 years old in most breeds. The biggest difference in training a senior dog is their training understanding their needs, and how their age changes their routines. Seniors could have health issues slowing or limiting them. Accidents will happen more often because they simply don’t know the need is coming until its too late, and they can’t warn you or get to the door. If you find your senior is having accidents, here are a few tips to make their potty lives easier, and your mess cleaning lighter.

  • Tip 1 – potty pads. Puppies and Adult dogs shouldn’t be shown pads until they are totally trained, for them a pad is for emergencies (bad weather, long times alone, illnesses).  A senior may find the use of a potty pad easier and more convenient. It limits stairs, long walks, the need for a lead, and shortens the steps from where they are to where they potty.  Your responsibility is to create a “potty zone” that is consistent and easy to access. This is the only acceptable place for the dog to relieve themselves. It needs to be away from their food and sleeping area.  Some owners have even had success creating a “dog litter box” and training seniors to use that facility.  The need to change potty pads or litter is 100% on YOU, and should be monitored all day, every day. Once they have gone, get that mess out of the house. They will follow the smell and create they own new potty zone, so eliminate that possibility by disposing of the waste outside of the home.

  • Tip 2 – Key word potty command/cue.  Regardless if you’re training for indoors or out, get that senior dog used to a single world or phrase to help them recognize its time to go. Teaching them that the word “Outside” or the phrase “Potty Time” is a signal to head to the designated door or area for them to go… and then helping them get there in time… will eliminate stress on both of you.  It will take time time, praise, reinforcement, and limitless love to get them up to speed, but if you’re all in then they will be, too.

  • Tip 3 – Keep them active. Having a potty pad or litter box doesn’t mean they should still get outside, play, walk, see the world, and potty outside. Again, this is on you to force the action and build the routine. Being with you, having fun outdoors, will be the best part of their day. So get that routine and schedule down so they anticipate and enjoy that time.  DO NOT scold or shame your senior dog. Think about your Grandparents. They have lived a long life, seen and done things that have earned them the respect of not being yelled at.  Treat your senior dog with the same respect.


Kitten to older cat, the routine is easier… but your role is equal to or more important in training the felines. Here are a few quick tips on how to help your cat get used to their potty time environment.

  • Multiple litter box options.  Keep potty zones, but you may want more than one box. If you have multiple cats, then you NEED multiple boxes. Keep your boxes in a more secluded, private area. Your cat doesn’t want their business to be your business.

  • Choose a light dust, sand like litter. They want that “feel of Egypt” under their feet. Use a good quality, sand feel litter.  Don’t cheap out, the better the litter the less times you’ll have to change the box.

  • Get them used to a potty routine. Yep, even cats need structure. For kittens or new cats in your environment, take to the box, and put them in it, a half hour before and after meals. Again, like dogs, this routine will create a mental marker that food and bathroom time are connected.

  • Make the Litter Box Cool. If you catch them pooping outside of the box, don’t be a jerk… help them to discover how great the box is by putting their poop inside the box and putting the cat in with it. Simulate covering the poop so they understand what should happen.

It goes without saying that keeping your boxes scooped and filled is critical. If the box gets overloaded, the cat will go outside of it. That’s not them being bad, its them saying “that’s gross, dude… help a cat out”.  Once they get the idea of a box and how that routine works, some owners have actually transitioned their cats to a “training box” that fits over the toilet. Once the cat understands an is trained, you remove the training box and the cat knows to us your toilet for their business. Sure, the line to use the bathroom is longer, but the overall mess is less.  Lastly, your cat may prefer their litter box near their bed or food (that blow the “don’t poop where you eat” rule away… but cats are rebels).

That’s our review of potty training dogs and cats. We guess you could say it’s the “straight poop” we “dumped” on you!  It’s our sincere hope that these tips will help you spend less time worrying about where and how they use the bathroom, and grown a more cohesive bond with your pets while teaching them the expectations and joy of potty time

As we look forward to this New Year, our wish is that you’ll continue you join us weekly for our Dog Blog. Till we meet again next week, please remember to be safe, be kind to each other, enjoy the time you have with family and friends, and above all else… be Pet Friendly, #FreddieSez.