Can a Duck be Potty Trained?

Many duck owners, whatever their intentions in the beginning, find out quickly enough it is easy to get very attached to their feathered friends.

Magpie Duck in front and Crested Blue Swedish in back
Magpie Duck in front and Crested Blue Swedish in back

So attached, they might find themselves wanting their favorite duck to accompany them inside their home as a proper pet. But, every duck owner that does this finds out very quickly what a bad idea it is.

Ducks poop a lot, and they have seemingly no care at all about when and where they poop.

If you want your house to look and smell like your barnyard, it’s a great idea, but if you don’t, your duck should probably stay outside.

But now that I think about it, is it possible to potty train a duck?

Yes, it is possible to potty train a duck but very difficult. Ducks don’t have major control over when they poop, and it is difficult to teach them to use a designated spot, but it can be done.

For people who just don’t want to take no for an answer, you might be relieved to find out that it is possible to potty train your duck with a lot of diligence and a lot of patience, but in the end there’s no guarantee that your duck will get the picture.

But if you want to keep filth to a minimum while your duck is in your home, you’ll need to try. I’ll tell you how to do it below.

Why Would Anyone Potty Train a Duck?

Pretty much the only reason why anyone would go through the aggravation, effort and time of trying to potty train a duck is so that it can be inside the house with you and not get duck crap all over the place.

And believe me, that is exactly what will happen in very short order if the duck is not potty trained.

So it is Really Possible?

Yes. So we are perfectly clear, it is technically possible to potty train a duck using the right methods.

However, it is a lengthy process and there is no guarantee of success even with the smartest of ducks.

Major Problem: Ducks Can’t Control When They Poop

We have one major biological snag when it comes to potty training ducks. Ducks are pretty much like every other bird in that they don’t have a whole lot of control over when they poop.

Ducks will poop while they’re swimming, while they are flying, while they are walking, sitting, pretty much anytime.

This is because, unlike mammals, they don’t have a sphincter muscle group that allows them to physically restrain the oncoming turd.

This is an obvious and major setback to our efforts, but it’s also made worse by the fact that most ducks defecate fairly frequently, usually a couple of times an hour at least, and as many as four or five times an hour.

Even with just one duck in the house, do the math and you’ll see that is a ton of duck crap on the carpet, on the kitchen floor and generally everywhere.

Ducks are Smart, but Not in the Right Way for Potty Training

Another thing that is working against us is the fact that ducks, like many birds, are just not smart in the way that we need them to be.

Linking the concept of pooping in a specific place when the need arises is just a very difficult formula for them to work out.

Ducks are intelligent, and many birds are incredibly smart and very capable problem solvers, but this is one particular puzzle that birds just aren’t suited to, ducks included.

If You Want to Potty Train Your Duck, Do the Following

If you are still undaunted and want to potty train your duck, go ahead and commit yourself to a lengthy, frustrating and, frankly, fairly nasty endeavor.

You’ll need to designate one spot in your home to be the duck’s designated potty spot, then put down papers, pads or whatever else you’re going to use to keep the crap actually off the floor.

Once that’s done, do the following…

1. Get a Clicker and Treats

Your first step is to get a clicker, the training aid used to signal animals (dogs in particular) and then get your ducks favorite food.

This food should be tiny tidbits that you can use as a treat to reward your duck for good behavior.

2. Watch for the “Dance”

Next, take some time and observe your duck continuously, and specifically watch for any behavior that it routinely exhibits immediately prior to pooping.

It could be a shake of the tail, waddling a certain way, squatting or something else entirely. Whatever it is, watch for it, and once you’ve positively identified it, you can proceed.

3. Make Your Duck Poop in the Potty Spot, then Reward

The next step is to physically make your duck poop in the potty spot. Regularly, according to the usual pooping schedule, take your duck to the potty spot and keep them there until they poop.

When this occurs, hit the clicker and then give your duck a reward in the form of a treat. Repeat this process for at least a day.

4. Hit the Clicker When You See the Dance, Take Duck to Potty Spot

Now, as your duck is moving around inside your home you must be constantly vigilant for the dance. When you see the dance, immediately grab the duck and take it to the potty spot.

5. When Duck Poops, Click then Reward

Like before, wait for the duck to poop in the potty spot, click, then reward it with another treat.

6. Repeat: Spot, Click, Reward, Repeat

This is your life now: constantly watch your duck for signs of the dance, grab them before they go and take them to the potty spot, wait for them to poop, click, treat and then let them go.

You repeat this process over and over and over again until you notice your duck starting to head towards the potty spot on their own before pooping.

This will take quite a while, and as I said upfront, it might never work: much of the time a duck just cannot make the connection.

Be prepared for a lengthy endeavor.

Potty Training Mistake #1: Not Using Food

You’re doing wrong if you aren’t using food to reward and motivate your duck during potty training. Verbal praise and physical affection are nowhere near as effective.

Potty Training Mistake #2: Verbal Signals

You are making a serious mistake if you don’t use a clicker for your signal, or lacking a clicker, a bell or some other noisemaker.

Don’t use any spoken word, because your duck is going to hear you talking a lot inside the house and this will easily confuse it.

Potty Training Mistake #3: High Expectations

I warned you up-front and I will warn you again: manage your expectations during potty training.

Chances are very good that your duck will not get it quickly. Chances are better than average your duck will never get it at all.

If you can potty train your duck to live inside your home without making a terrible mess, great, but don’t hang all your hopes on it.

If All Else, Fails, Diaper that Duck

If you really want your duck to stay inside the home with you, you can save a lot of time and grief by just diapering the duck.

A duck’s diaper will need regular changing, and you’ll go through a lot of them, but most ducks don’t mind wearing them, and it will keep your house clean without all this fuss of potty training.

Leave a Comment