How to Potty Train Your Dog WITHOUT a Crate

Posted By Roger Wellington the Traveling Yorkie on Apr 25, 2020 | 0 comments

how to potty train your dog without a crate

Last Updated: 1/19/21

WOOF! If you’re learning how to potty train your dog without a crate, your little wet nose has brought you to the RIGHT place. Hopefully, you’ve already sniffed out my previous post on 10 reasons NOT to crate your dog and are moving forward with the next step. Yep, more effective and certainly more humane potty training ways exist regardless of the age of your furry best friend. Even if you strongly support crating, you cannot deny the fact that a “crate” is just a nicer word for “cage.” To be clear, I am not denouncing the use of crates as long as dogs are free to enter and exit as they please. For the sake of your precious furbaby, I beg you to attempt potty training without a crate.

*For simplicity, the gender of the word “dog” will be in the masculine form (“he” or “him”) throughout this post.


Here are 10 Tips on How to Potty Train your Dog without a Crate:


#1 Establish a schedule or routine 

how to potty train your dog without a crate

The easiest way to potty train your dog without a crate is to establish a daily schedule. ARRRRF, dogs thrive on routines! For dogs, a healthy life is a stable life with a schedule for walks, playtime, meals, naps, and bedtime. Create a daily schedule to take your dog out to pee and poop during walks and STICK TO IT. It may take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for your dog to fully get used to the routine, but I can assure you (with my upright tail) that it works fabulously once your dog gets comfortable with the schedule. My advice is to provide your adult dog with at least 3 opportunities a day for relief and exercise; for instance, 1) in the morning (before you start work), 2) in the afternoon or late afternoon (upon your return from work), and 3) right before bedtime (this can be a quick pee-pee session). Please bear in mind that dogs will need to pee more than a couple times during a session to fully relieve himself. Also, physical movement helps your dog poop it out – that’s why your dog may not poop right off the bat when taken outside. Therefore, routine walks throughout the day are the best ways to ensure healthy bowel movement. If your dog is on a meal schedule, please make sure he gets enough time for digestion before going out on a walk (say an hour or so). And, of course, if you’re raising a puppy, you will need to take him out more frequently; young puppies generally cannot hold their bladder for more than 1-2 hours, depending on their age.


Do Dogs REALLY Love their Crates? Dog Crate Misconceptions Debunked!


#2 (For those with a yard) Train your dog to use the yard as a place for relief 

For those with a yard, you can easily potty train your dog without a crate by taking him outside shortly after his meals (after 30-60 minutes). Have a pack of beg-worthy treats on hand and praise him every single time he pees or poops outside. Say “Pee Pee, GOOD” or “Poop, GOOD” so he connects the reward (verbal praise and treats) with the action of relieving himself. Do this consistently for at least 2-3 weeks or until he starts relieving outside on his own.

how to potty train your dog without a crate

If you find urine or feces inside the home (which is bound to happen, at least in the beginning), point to the soiled area and say “Pee Pee” or “Poop” several times. NEVER hit or yell at your dog for relieving himself (see #7). Proceed to take your dog outside to the yard with his favorite treats ready. When outside, repeat the words “Pee Pee” and praise him when he does. He may not pee or poop immediately when you take him out so please allow some time (anywhere from a few days to a few weeks). STAY outside with him as long as possible until you can catch him in the act of urinating or defecating. Follow it immediately with immense praise, big smiles, and most importantly, TREATS. That’s right, dogs can’t resist good food! Depending on his age, take him outside multiple times throughout the day; again, puppies cannot hold it as long as adult dogs and will need more than outings. REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT. Sooner or later, he will learn to go outside whenever it’s time to relieve himself.


*Please be mindful that yards can NEVER offer the same benefits of walks, which include (but not limited to) physical exercise, mental stimulation, and healthy socialization. Hence, even if your dog has access to a yard, please still do your part in taking him out every day. 

Can You Crate Train Your Older Dog? FIND OUT HERE!


#3 Train your dog to use pee pads INDOORS

Training your dog to use pee pads in the house is easier than most people think. Dogs, myself included, tend to pee or “mark” in the same places or type of items. As my humans can attest, I have a thing for corners and plastic bags. As soon as you find a spot, clean up the mess and place a pee pad over the area. You can place a small plant and/or some real leaves on the pee pad to give your dog more of an “outdoor” smell. If you have an alpha male dog who loves being The BOSS (like myself), then it’s also helpful to spread some urine of another dog (ideally, another male dog) onto the pee pad. This may sound like a super odd thing to do, but WOOF – it WORKS. The question is where would you find another dog’s urine, especially if you only have one dog? Ask friends and family members with furry friends to help out or bring a pee pad out on a walk to wipe off some markings from other dogs. 

As soon as you notice that your dog used the pee pad, take him near the pee pad, point to it continuously, and reward him through verbal praise (e.g. “Pee Pee, GOOD”) and yummy treats. In the beginning, repeat the words “PEE PEE” or “POOP” whenever your dog is doing his business on routine walks so that he affiliates the words with the specific action. If necessary, place several pee pads strategically throughout the house.


*Training your dog to relieve himself indoors should only serve as a complement to daily walks. Just because your dog has learned how to relieve himself inside doesn’t mean that you should deny him of opportunities to explore the outdoors. Again, daily walks offer amazing benefits of physical exercise, mental stimulation, and socialization that are crucial to your dog’s well-being. 

Find Out Why Your Dog is Barking in the Crate


#4  Train your dog to use an artificial grass lawn INDOORS

how to potty train your dog without a crate

ARF, another easy way to potty train your dog without a crate! A myriad of “fake” grass products or synthetic lawns have flooded today’s market. Some claim to be equipped with a scent specifically designed to help your dog urinate or defecate. Training your dog to use a synthetic lawn is the same as training him to use a pee pad. I also recommend placing a small plant and/or some real leaves on the fake grass to give your dog an outdoor scent, at least in the beginning. Although many people prefer to place the “fake” lawn inside the bathroom, I think it’s most effective to allow your dog to determine the location. After all, he’s the one using it! Place the fake grass lawn wherever your dog is having the most “accidents.” Again, reward immediately as soon as you notice that he has relieved himself on the pee pad.


*Training your dog to relieve himself indoors should only serve as a complement to daily walks. Just because your dog has learned how to relieve himself inside doesn’t mean that you should deny him of opportunities to explore the outdoors. Again, daily walks offer amazing benefits of physical exercise, mental stimulation, and socialization that are crucial to your dog’s well-being. 


#5 Learn to understand your dog’s behavioral signs

Potty training requires dogs to “hold it” until they can get to a place to relieve themselves. Any established schedule (and even crating) only works 100% of the time when your dog can “hold it” in time. It’s cruel to expect puppies to “hold it” for more than a few hours and adult dogs to “hold it” for more than 8 hours. Dogs that have to consistently “hold it” for abnormally long hours are subject to urinary tract infections, incontinence issues, bladder cancer – among other serious health conditions. When you potty train your dog without a crate, you must learn to understand your dog’s alerts and behavioral signs.

how to potty train your dog without a crate

If he’s used to going outside for relief, a clear sign that he needs to go is when he stands or sits by the door. Here are other ways for a dog to tell you that he NEEDS to go outside or wants something:

Stares at you

Follows you 

Paces around

Whines in front of you

Barks at you

Growls at you

If your dog is ever shaking (and it’s not temperature cold), he is likely in pain or fear. Sometimes, I shake when I have a tummy-ache and need to poop out the yuckiness. After I relieve myself outside, I pop right back to being the upbeat alpha dog. If you see your dog shaking inside, try taking him out to relieve himself to see if the pain is associated with his stomach. If he is able to poop and resume to normal, then he simply HAD to go. If he is consistently shaking throughout the walk and afterward, please consult a veterinarian ASAP.





Whether you are potty training your dog without a crate or training your dog not to bark at strangers, you must first recognize that dogs learn BEST with positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is unquestionably the most humane and effective way for any type of dog training. Offer rewards through verbal praise, mouthwatering treats, and gentle strokes to demonstrate that you welcome his behavior or action. 


#7 NEVER abuse your dog (either emotionally or physically)

Animal abuse is wrong and cruel. Not to mention, it’s also illegal in many parts of the world (GRRR it should be illegal EVERYWHERE). Only a coward would abuse an animal PERIOD. Please understand that there’s no “right” or “wrong” in a dog’s world. When you praise and reward him for the desired action (or in your eyes, “right”), he learns to affiliate the specific action with something positive. Screaming at or hitting your dog only makes him TERRIFIED OF YOU. Dogs don’t understand what they did was “wrong”; they simply see you going crazy and are scared to death of YOU. Yes, YOU – the person who is supposed to be his best friend, closest family member, and caretaker. Negative reinforcement is the least effective way to train a dog as it backfires with behavioral and/or health issues. 

how to potty train your dog without a crate

If you ever abuse a dog, whether verbally or physically, for peeing in the house, you are doing more harm than good. Your dog may become scared to pee entirely or succumb to relieving in “hidden” areas (e.g. behind the couch, under the bed, inside the closet, etc.). Can you imagine what the dog or ANY creature is going through when he is afraid to relieve himself? Being able to relieve oneself is a RIGHT to life, not a privilege. It’s part of mother nature. As the saying goes – When you gotta go, you GOTTA GO. 


#8 Do NOT “rub his nose in it”

This is an old wives’ tale to rub a dog’s nose in their own urine or feces as “punishment.” This antiquated practice is not only abusive but also largely ineffective. Again, dogs do NOT know right from wrong. Such abusive action will only make your dog fear you. So please do NOT do this when potty training your dog without a crate. Use only humane methods.

I cannot bark out enough that dogs learn BEST through positive reinforcement!


#9 Be PATIENT – Repetition is KEY

how to potty train your dog without a crate

Potty training your dog without a crate is no rocket science, but it does require patience and repetition. Whether you’re raising a dog or a human child, you must have the patience or LEARN to be patient. No one is perfect, including yourself. It takes time for dogs to understand what YOU want or again, what YOU deem as desirable. Don’t give up on your dog even if it seems like he “just doesn’t get it.” Instead, take accountability for your own actions – is there something that YOU are not doing right to properly train your dog? Are you not spending enough time in training? Don’t be one-sided. Please be aware that potty training is done for solely YOUR convenience; you are training your dog to relieve himself ON YOUR TERMS so that you won’t have to encounter his urine and feces. It’s not his fault that he doesn’t understand exactly what YOU want. In a “natural” dog’s world, they are free to roam and pee wherever they like. Dogs don’t read minds. Neither do humans. You must invest your time and patience in these crate-free potty training techniques in order for them to work effectively. 



Again, NO ONE is perfect. Accept that accidents may still happen when you potty train your dog with or without a crate and it’s OK. You are not living with a robot. Dogs are living, breathing sentient individuals with their own wants and needs. They should never behave or be treated like robots or “servants.” If you only want a “perfectly behaved” dog who does every little thing you order, then you are depriving him of any personal character, which is completely unfair to him. Most importantly, it creates a disgustingly harmful “superior-subordinate” relationship that breeds animal abuse. If you have human children, you know that your children are not perfect no matter how much you try to “teach” them; they make a mess and get into “trouble” – it’s normal; however, you do not give up on them because you love them. Yet dogs are no different, except they will love you unconditionally, even more so than your human counterparts. Treat dogs like REAL family members with compassion and understanding, and you’ll see the love returned tenfold!


WOOF, I hope you can implement my 10 tips on how to potty train your dog without a crate! I am PAWSITIVE that your dog will be thankful that he’s not locked up in a “cage” every day (regardless of how short the duration). If you have any helpful tips, feel free to share in the comments section below or shoot me a message! Bark at ME.


Be sure to sniff out 10 reasons NOT to crate your dog if you haven’t already done so! If you want to see how dogs can train humans, WATCH MY QUICK 3-MIN VIDEO!

If your dog is having a hard time practicing social distancing, sniff out these 8 ESSENTIAL TIPS ON SOCIAL DISTANCING WITH YOUR DOG!


Markin’ it up,

Roger Wellington a.k.a. The Doob

How to Potty Train Your Dog without a Crate


Like my post on “How to Potty Train Your Dog without a Crate”? CLICK TO PIN!

How to Potty Train Your Dog without a


ARRRF! I’m Roger Wellington,

World Traveling Yorkie: How to Travel with Your Dog

BUT most people call me The Doob. I am the world traveling Yorkie from San Francisco, California. After being rescued by two nomadic millennials from a miserable life in a crate, I transformed into an international foodie, 7 lb. pack leader, dog (and cat :)) advocate, and arguably the most masculine travel blogger. As my humans would attest, I am the self-proclaimed #1 Human Trainer. Since 2016, I’ve set my tiny furry paws in more than 20 countries and plan to catch up with my humans who have been to over 45 countries across 5 continents (and lived on 3 continents) in addition to over 25 states. However, being a true nomadic dog, I don’t travel for short vacations or for the sake of collecting countries – I TRAVEL TO LIVE. Follow my nomadic canine escapades and learn to travel with your dog!

Click HERE to learn more about Roger W., the Traveling Yorkie!

Keep your dog SAFE on international flights!

how to travel with your dog, flying with your dog
error: Content is protected !!