DIY Indoor Potty Training

Commercial dog toilets range from fake grass platforms (complete with fire hydrants) to square yards of real grass. They’re a good way to sell refill packs for a lot of money, and I have better ways to spend $40/month.  So, I looked up “DIY indoor dog potty” and built my own.

Separate Parts Cropped

  • $10 storage crate from Costco w/ doorway cut out.  Raised floor has channels.
  • Snap-together grate flooring pieces, cut to fit.

This Is My Potty Box

Add the papers Kitto has learned to go on, and Kitto (when appropriate).

Unexpected Coolness: This potty box is mobile.  This helps us to get Kitto there in time, because when the urge hits him, there’s only a second or two before deluge.

A bit of self-reflection on Day 3 of Kitto living with us (9 wk old AKK):

  • Kitto is only as good at potty training as we are.
  • Potty training is about controlling the dog’s environment, and patient dedication to the task. And not getting frustrated with the dog’s learning curve.
  • The throw rug we got Kitto to play on has a wonderful feel to it, different than the laminate everywhere else.  It feels like indoor grass, and to Kitto, that means “Perfect place for #1 or #2, so I’m not doing #2 in the potty”
  • The throw rug encourages racing around and chase games because Kitto gets traction on it.  This leads to mouthing antics we’d rather avoid.

There’s an important lesson here, which I learned from Mike Kelly at If you aspire to train a dog for therapy, be prepare to learn more than the dog.

We moved the carpet to a different room.

This bed is all mine

Kitto’s options today were to play on laminate or on a large circular dog bed. The bed became “his” space as a result, and we moved the potty box close to it, and waited.  (If you’re playing at home, keep a lead on your puppy and you’ll be able to reel it in when you want to instead of playing chase the puppy.)

We had some fails today.  Sometimes puppy charisma is irresistible and playing with Kitto is more fun than potty training him.  It’s not a huge deal.  The bed cover can be washed.

It Works BDE.jpg

Like fishing, success requires patience.  We watched “Smokey and the Bandit” while I kept Kitto on a short lead next to the box, and waited for the signs he’s been teaching us.

Keeping him on laminate worked.  He doesn’t like to relieve himself on it, so it takes him some time to find the right spot.  That gave me a few extra seconds I wasn’t counting on, and he used the box correctly.  It was a bit of a mess afterwards.  Kitto wriggled a lot from all the cheering.

End Day 3

Be vigilant and patient, and you will surely win.  You are forming bonds with your pet that are crazy strong and the results are worth the effort.

Update: Next morning, I confidently carried the potty to my home office, sure that I knew the signs Kitto was ready for it and I had at least 15 safe seconds.  Kitto saw the potty too, and pooped on the floor a foot from the door.

Positive affirmation training brings a gentle perspective to what happened.  Kitto and I were seconds away from getting it right.  He’s nine weeks old, and lived with us three days.  I’m 49 yrs old, and he’s my first puppy.  We’re both learning new tricks here.

Laugh it off, and next time do a better job of controlling the environment and the dog.

Success comes by way of little gains that add up to a sure win.




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