How to Train Your Dog to Ask to Go Outside

Hard
4-8 Weeks
General

Introduction

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. 

Defining Tasks

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. 

Getting Started

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:

  • Treats
  • 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

Most Recommended
2 Votes
Step
1
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.
Step
2
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.
Step
3
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.
Step
4
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.
Step
5
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.
Recommend training method?

The Bring Your Leash Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
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.
Step
2
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.
Step
3
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.
Step
4
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.
Step
5
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.
Recommend training method?

The Bark to Tell You Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Take a toy
Grab one of your pup's favorite toys and wave it around to get him excited enough to bark.
Step
2
Reward time
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.
Step
3
Each time he barks
Each time your pup barks give him a treat and praise him.
Step
4
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.
Step
5
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.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Ruby
terrier
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Ruby
terrier
2 Years

Ruby was adopted a week ago and is very shy and timid. She does not play with toys, is scared to go out front on walks. She knows to go outside to the bathroom (but has had a few accidents) but she does not bark or do anything to let us know she needs to go, we just take her as often as possible. How can I get her to let us know she needs to go, if she doesn't bark or play with toys yet to train those ways? Also, how can I get her less scared of the world to get her to go on walks and exercise her?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
396 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I would hire a trainer to help guide you along this process. It will involve several different things. First, I suggest teaching her to ring a bell when she needs to go potty and rewarding her with treats when she potties outside, to help increase her motivation to go outside - this will be half the solution but probably won't be enough on its own. The Peanut butter (or liver paste or soft cheese instead) method: https://wagwalking.com/training/ring-a-bell-to-go-out Second, she isn't likely to ask to go out right now because outside is scary for her. For her to be motivated to go potty outside she needs to get over her fear of being out there - the two are connected. I suggest spending a lot of time outside doing fun and relaxing, low pressure things with her. Simply sit outside with a book, sprinkle treats in the grass for her to find, practice easy tricks and commands with treats, play any games she likes, and simply spend time out there - whenever she looks at something that could be scary and stays calm or is still thinking about how to react - praise confidently and give a treat. Whenever she looks at something, then looks back at you - give a treat. Whenever she generally does something to relax more, investigate, be friendly, and show good courage - praise confidently and give a treat. Your attitude should be calm, happy, and confident - not soothing, worried, or frustrated (that can be one of the hardest parts to implement honestly as pet parents). For the toys, take things slow. Focus on getting her more familiar with her surroundings, teaching basic commands to build your relationship, and working on a schedule. As she starts to do better teach games and toys using methods like the one from the article below: https://blog.petflow.com/fetch/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Luci
petite griffon
2 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Luci
petite griffon
2 Years

Luci is a street dog from spain adopted just of 2 months ago and she cannot get use to letting us know when she wants to do a pee/poo... I would like to know the simpliest way to teach her how to let me know when she wants to go outside please x

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
396 Dog owners recommended

Hello, It normally takes a few months of a dog being consistently potty trained before they will start to tell you when they need to go outside on their own. Before then you need to stick to a strict potty schedule and initiate taking them outside for them to prevent accidents - any accidents will make this process take longer. To help the process along you can teach her to ring a bell when she needs to go outside. This will teach her a way to alert you when she needs to go out, but her desire to keep your home clean through strict potty training that forms a long term habit of only peeing outside will still need to be firmly in place for her to be motivated when the urge hits her. The bell can speed up that process though. Follow the Peanut Butter method from the article linked below: https://wagwalking.com/training/ring-a-bell-to-go-out Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

I’m potty training my dog with a crate for punishments of releasing in the house. I put Daisy on a 6’ leash and take her out about every 20 minutes or so. This works and Daisy now pees or poops on my command , I have had many potty accidents in the house and am working with Daisy diligently and watch her like a hungry hawk. I have had little accidents in the house go down since I first brought Daisy home from several times to 1 time 2 days ago today she peed at night and when she did this she knows she’s in trouble. I need to know how I can get her to alert me to take her out to go potty instead of me judging it for her. Daisy whined on leash before and taken out to go potty with success but not all the time.

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