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One of the hardest parts of potty training is getting your dog to let you know when he needs to go out. Imagine how nice it would be if your dog could come to you and tell you in plain English that he wants to go outside and take care of business. Of course, he can't exactly walk up to you and say, "Hey dude! I gotta go outside." But at the same time, there is no reason why he can't be trained to let you know in another way that he needs to pee.
The good news is that there are several different ways you can use to train your pup to "ask" you to take him outside. We all know how hard it can be sometimes to tell that our four-legged friends are trying to let us know he needs to go out before he ends up making a mess. This could be because some dogs are better at telling you of their needs than others.
Of course, it could be that your dog is already trying to tell you, but you simply aren't getting the clue. It is possible that you just don't understand his efforts. There are several signs he might already be using such as standing by the door, whining, growling, or wagging his tail. He might also start pacing, sniffing at things like furniture legs, or scratching at the door.
The goal is to teach him a specific method of letting you know that he needs to go out and take care of his business. Of course, if you see any of the above-listed signs, you should probably go ahead and take him out as quickly as possible. It could be that he is trying to train you to recognize the fact that he needs to go out.
Before you start trying to train your pup to let you know he needs to go outside, he needs to have been potty trained at least to the point at which you can take him out every couple of hours or so and he will use the bathroom instead of making a mess in the house. There are a few things you may need as part of your training program, including:
- A bell
- A leash
- A toy or noisemaker
The only other things you need are plenty of time and patience. Your dog will appreciate you being patient as he learns this new skill and so will you when you no longer have so many messes to clean up.
The Ring the Bell Method
Buy a bell
Buy a bell that you can hang on your door handle. It must be hung low enough that it can easily be reached by your pup when he needs to let you know it's time to go out.
If he is scared of the noise
If your pup appears to be afraid of the noise at first, you can dampen the sound a bit by putting a little tape on it until he gets used to it.
Each time you take the dog outside
Each time you go to take your pup outside, gently take his paw and ring the bell with it. Then take him outside immediately. When he goes potty, be sure to praise him and give him a reward.
Repeat the process
Continue to repeat this training process until your pup understands he needs to ring the bell each time he needs to go outside.
Rewards are part of the process
Each time your pup gets it right, be sure to reward him with treats and plenty of praise. Be patient and prepared to spend plenty of time working on this training. While it may take a while for your pup to learn this trick, it will pay off in the end.
The Bring Your Leash Method
Place the leash
Place your pup's leash in a location that will make it easy for your pup to reach it when he wants to let you know he needs to go out. Choose a location near the door for the best results.
Here, hold my leash
Each time you go to let your dog out, give him the leash to hold in his mouth. If he holds it, give him a treat, praise him, and let him out. If he drops the leash, put it back in his mouth until he will hold it for a few seconds, at least long enough to get out the door.
Give him space
Now that your dog is used to holding his leash with both of you next to the door, it's time to give him a little space. Give him his leash and then start to walk away slowly. Stop when you are a few feet away and call him to come to you with the leash. When he does, give him a treat.
Over and over and over again
Keep repeating the above training until your pup has become comfortable with this activity. He may even start to follow you with the leash in his mouth.
Just walk on by
In this case, increase the distance slowly over time until your dog will bring you his leash each time he needs to go out. Be sure to reward him with praise and treats. Of course, be sure you take him outside every time he brings you his leash. This will reinforce the behavior to the point where he no longer needs to be treated, but will always bring you his leash when he needs to go out.
The Bark to Tell You Method
Take a toy
Grab one of your pup's favorite toys and wave it around to get him excited enough to bark.
Reward your pup with a treat when he barks. Be sure to train your pup to bark no more than 2 to 3 times by giving him the treat after the third bark. The last thing you want to do is encourage your pup to bark too much.
Each time he barks
Each time your pup barks give him a treat and praise him.
To the door
Once your dog has learned to bark on command, take him to the door and making him speak. When he does so, be sure to praise and reward him immediately. Then take him out.
And in the end
The rest is all about repetition. Practice this training as often as possible. The more you practice with your pup, the faster he will master this trick and the fewer messes you will have to clean up.
By PB Getz
Published: 12/07/2017, edited: 01/08/2021