How to Toilet Train a Dog Without a Garden


Potty training your dog can be a lot trickier when you don’t have a garden. Dog owners living in apartments cannot put doggie doors and don’t have quick access outdoors. The key is to start potty training your dog as early as possible and be consistent. Have a regular feeding schedule for your dog so you can predict easily when they are going to go.

When potty training your dog without a garden, you will be needing more patience, consistency, and dedication to make it work.

Starting a Routine Outside

Take Your Dog Outside as Frequently as You Can

A dog as young as eight weeks should be given a chance to go outdoors every twenty minutes if you want to increase the chances of your dog doing their business outside rather than inside your house. For older puppies, they need to relieve themselves regularly, as well. They can’t hold their bladder for over an hour or two. If you want to avoid accidents, bring your dog outside once an hour and be consistent. This way, your dog will realize the association of going outdoors with bathroom breaks.

After some time, you will get to know how frequently your dog needs to do its business. You can also watch for cues that they need to go potty. When you see your dog doing the signs, you can take them outside.

When potty training your dog, whether you have a garden or don’t, it is important that you are there as much as possible. When you’re always out, and you leave your dog in your apartment all day, it might take longer to potty train your dog. In the event you need to be out for a long time, you can have a family member or a friend stay with your dog. It is important that you also let them know that you’re potty training your dog. You should give them guidelines on how you do the potty training, so the consistency is still there, even if someone else is doing it.

Feed Your Dog the Same Time Every Day

Feeding your dog on a schedule will help to reinforce a routine. It will also allow you to predict better when your dog will likely to go potty. Feed your dog a few times a day, depending on their breed, size, and needs. Take your dog outdoors after every meal and after they drink a lot of water.

Choose a Specific Spot for Your Dog to Go Potty

Pick a spot and stick with it so your dog will be able to remember where they should do their business every time. If you live in an apartment without a garden, you might have difficulty getting to the closest park. You can pick a patch of grass that is closest to your apartment entrance to minimize any accidents that may occur.

When it comes to disposing of your dog’s waste, you have to check your city’s ordinances. Pick up your dog’s mess after every potty. You also have to avoid grass patches with flowers because dog urine isn’t good with flowers.

You Can Use a Command, So Your Dog Can Associate the Area with Relieving Themselves

You can use the words “potty” or “go potty” whenever your dog goes to relieve themselves. Do this every single time so they can learn to associate the command with doing their business in their designated potty area. Make sure you don’t utter the words while you are indoors, just use them when you and your dog are in the potty area.

Reward Your Dog When They Successfully Do Their Business Outside

Positive reinforcement always yields good results. Rewarding your dog when they relieve themselves on the right spot will reinforce that good behavior. Give your dog a treat or praise, and they would want to do that behavior again. You can say “good girl” or “good boy” in a pleasant and loving tone and give your dog some cuddles or a treat. Do this every time so your dog will associate the reward with doing their business on the correct potty area. Remember, you have to be consistent.

Starting a Routine Inside

Confine Your Dog to a Specific Area in Your Apartment

You can gate of a small area in your home using a dog gate or playpen. This is important during your dog’s first months. Keeping them in one area will make it easier for you to keep your eye on them. It will allow you to take your dog out whenever they show signs that they need to go potty. If your dog has too much freedom in the house, they will end up relieving themselves before you can catch them to take them out.

You will know if your dog is ready to roam around your house when they have learned to give you signals that they need to poop or pee outside.

You Can Consider Having a Potty Spot Indoors

This is applicable if you live on a high floor in your apartment building. In this situation, it might be hard for you and your dog to go outside when they really need to go potty. If you have a small dog, you can consider paper training them because their mess is manageable. Choose an area in the house where you can line with training pads.

You can also opt to use a sod box as a spot for your dog to do their business. You can fill a plastic container with dog litter or sod and place newspapers under it.

When your dog had an accident, clean it up and place the soiled rags or paper towels in the designated spot, so your dog associates the smell of pee with their potty area.

Get a Crate for Your Dog

This will be useful when you have a puppy. They actually love the feeling of having a cozy, small crate because it makes them feel secure and safe. Keep in mind that a crate should never be used as punishment. The crate should be your dog’s personal safe space. Dogs don’t usually soil the space where they sleep, that is why you must take them out so they can do their business in the designated potty spot before putting them in their crate.

Puppies can sleep for around four hours before they need to go potty. If you hear your dog barking while in the crate, take them outside to relieve themselves, then place them back in their crate. Reward your dog when they relieve themselves well.

When There is an Accident, Clean it Right Away

If your dog had an accident in their crate or any area inside the house, make sure to clean and sanitize the spot to get rid of the smell. If the spot still smells like urine or poop, your dog will naturally want to go potty in the same spot.

Never Scold Your Dog for Having an Accident

Dogs respond better with positive reinforcement, that’s why scolding them is a no-no. Negative reinforcement will only make them scared of you. If you catch your dog doing business that is not the designated potty area, pick your dog up immediately and take them to their potty spot. When your dog successfully finishes there, give them a reward.

Do not yell at your dog or spank them when there is an accident. It will only teach your dog to be scared, and there can be a significant setback in your potty training.

If you find the mess after your dog has relieved themselves, do not try to discipline them. Just clean the mess up and remember to take your dog outside more often.

Properly Cleaning Up Your Dog’s Accidents

Your dog will have an accident at some point in your training. When this happens, it is best to clean it up immediately. Your best option for cleaning your dog’s mess is using an enzymatic cleaner for pet stains. This product contains enzymes that will break down the waste and kill the unpleasant odor. If you don’t have a pet stain cleaner available, don’t worry about the mess on your hands. You can use diluted dish detergent, baking soda, and vinegar.

For Bare Floor Messes

1.     Soak up urine with thick dry paper towels

As soon as you spot the accident, wipe it up immediately. When the puddle is still wet, absorb as much liquid as you can with paper towels. When the wad of paper towels is already soaked, swap it with new ones. If the puddle has already dried up, you can wipe the area with a cleaner.

2.     Scoop up feces with cardboard or paper towels

If you are dealing with poop, carefully scoop it up to avoid it being spread, especially if it’s a bit mushy. Use paper towels to remove the solid pieces. You can also use sturdy plastic bags or two pieces of cardboard. If there is a wet residue left behind, you can wipe it with paper towels.

You must wear disposable gloves when you are cleaning up your dog’s messes, especially picking up feces. You can also use the odor to your advantage when you are potty training your dog. You can pick up the waste and place it in the designated potty spot outside. It will help your dog learn where is the right place for them to go potty.

3.     Wipe the area with an enzymatic cleaner for pet messes

Once the urine is absorbed and the feces removed, you can now spray the area with a cleaner. If the mess was fresh, let it sit for two to three minutes. If it took some time before you were able to clean the mess, let the cleaner sit for about ten minutes. After letting it sit, you can wipe the area with paper towels.

An enzymatic cleaner is recommended because it breaks down substances in pet messes. These substances cause stains and odors. Eliminating all traces of the mess is important because it will lower the chance of your dog to have an accident again in that particular area.

When getting an enzymatic cleaner, you have to read the product’s instructions carefully and use it as directed. For instance, if your floors are hardwood, look for a cleaner that is labeled safe for wood.

4.     You can also use a vinegar solution when there is no enzymatic cleaner available

You can mix one-part white vinegar with one-part water, then add lemon juice to get rid of the vinegar odor. Transfer the solution into a spray bottle, or you can apply using paper towels or sponge.

Keep in mind that you should let the vinegar solution sit for a while, then you can wipe the area with paper towels or dry cloth. Diluted vinegar is safe for most surfaces. If you are worried, you can increase the water content of the solution and test it in a specific area, such as under the sofa or rug.

Other than covering up the smell of the vinegar, adding lemon can also help stop your dog from doing their business in that same spot again. There is also lemon-scented vinegar available in the market.

5.     Use baking soda to remove any lingering odor

Another option other than the enzymatic cleaner and vinegar solution is baking soda. You can sprinkle around ¼ cup or 130 grams of baking soda over the spot and let it sit for at least two to three hours, then thoroughly vacuum the area.

If leaving it for two to three hours did not work, you can sprinkle a fresh layer and let it sit overnight. Keep in mind to keep your dog away from the baking soda.

Cleaning Carpeted Floors

1.     Blot the urine puddle with paper towels

Soak up the dog’s urine with paper towels using up-and-down, springy blotting motions. Never rub the carpet with circular or side-to-side motions. Once your paper towels are soaked, change them with fresh ones. With carpets, you need to use a nuanced, careful touch to prevent the mess from rubbing into the pile.

2.     Carefully remove feces and avoid pushing it into the carpet

You can use paper towels, two pieces of cardboard, or a plastic bag to pick up feces. Do it carefully to avoid spreading it into the carpet, especially the soft one. If there is any dampness left behind, blot it up carefully with paper towels.

3.     For dried stains, dampen with wet paper towels

Blot carefully caked or dried carpet stains with paper towels that were soaked in lukewarm or cool water. When cleaning feces, you have to remove as much solid waste as you can before you blot. When the area is damp, you can then dab the spot with dry, fresh paper towels to soak up the waste. After soaking up the waste, you can spray the spot with a cleaning product.

4.     To reach into the pile, use enzymatic cleaner and toothbrush

Spray the area with enzymatic cleaner until saturated. Let it sit for a god five to ten minutes, and use the toothbrush to deeply penetrate into the carpet fibers. Then you can blot the spot with paper towels until dry. Blot and brush the fibers with upward motions. This will avoid pressing the stain further into the carpet.

When you are done, you should sanitize the toothbrush with rubbing alcohol or bleach and use it solely for cleaning jobs. If you are worried if the cleaner might discolor your carpet, you can test it first in an unnoticeable area.

If you don’t have an enzymatic cleaner available, you can use a dish or detergent soap instead. Dilute one teaspoon of dish soap or laundry detergent with 240 ml or one cup of lukewarm water. Apply the solution to the spot with the toothbrush and let it sit for some minutes. Then you can scrub it again with the toothbrush. Use a damp paper towel to blot the spot if it is sudsy, then dab again with paper towels until dry.

You can also use laundry pretreatment products because they contain enzymes that also break down substances in feces and urine.

5.     If the previous methods did not work, rent a vacuum-based carpet cleaner

If all else fails, you can rent a carpet cleaner in the nearest hardware store. Before using the vacuum, fill the tank with warm water and add the cleaner in the solution compartment. As you pass the vacuum over the spot, squeeze the trigger and move the vacuum forward and backward. Then go over the spot again without pressing the trigger.

When you hold the trigger while going over the spot, the machine is injecting the cleaning solution into the carpet. When you are not pressing the trigger, the machine then sucks up the cleaning solution and water. You may want to check the machine’s manual for specific instructions because they may vary with different brands and models.

It would be better if you clean the entire carpet. Cleaning only the spot will only make the rest of the carpet look grimy in comparison.

Related Questions

How can I tell if my dog needs to relieve itself?

Your dog may start scratching, sniffing the ground, barking, or squatting. You have to watch your dog for you to find out because all dogs are different.

I got an older dog, is it too late to potty train him?

Yes, you can still train him. Dogs can be trained at any age. Just be consistent.

Final Thoughts

Potty training your dog, when you don’t have a garden, can be more challenging. However, if you put your heart into it and be consistent in training your dog, you will reap the rewards after.

Recent Content