4 Ways to Get Your Dog to Ask to Go Outside

Your dog may not be able to talk, but here are some ways you can teach him to “tell” you that he needs to go out.

By: theilr
Establishing a daily potty break will help your dog get in the habit of asking to go outside. By: theilr

We all wish our dogs could just talk.

It would make life so much easier for us, right? Imagine if your pup could just nudge you and say, “Can we go outside?” Alas, dogs have to communicate in other ways, and it’s our job to help them.

Fortunately, there are lots of ways to train your dog to communicate what he needs. Here are just 4 examples of how to teach your dog to tell you that he needs to go out.

1. Follow a Routine

Being on a schedule is key. If you leash Charlie at 9 o’clock every evening for a loop around the block, he’s going to begin expecting that quick walk. And because dogs are creatures of habit, when you get too caught up in the newest episode of The Walking Dead and forget to take him outside, he’s going to remind you.

With that in mind, choose your dog’s bathroom breaks at convenient times. Select a time when you’re usually home and free. As you continue that routine, your dog is going to grow accustomed to it.

2. Use a Bell

Dogs are clever. They’re eager to learn and can be trained to perform simple tasks, such as ringing a bell. And as it turns out, a bell-ringing dog can be very useful if you don’t want to clean up accidents every time your pup needs to go outside.

Keep in mind that the bells should be:

  • Loud. You want to hear when your dog rings the bells, even if you’re in another room.
  • Accessible. Your dog should be able to reach the bells easily. Keep them low and visible.
  • Durable. Assuming that your dog is excited about getting outside, she may paw enthusiastically at the bells, and you don’t want them to break. Make sure they can withstand a little rough handling.

Having the bells and actually teaching your dog to use them are not the same. Your dog isn’t going to know to paw at the bells every time he goes out. You have to show him that a ringing bell means outside time.

Doing that may be as simple as ringing the bells yourself each and every time you take Charlie outside. Try not to forget to ring them and, eventually, Charlie is going to begin associating the bells ringing with getting a bathroom break.

Here’s another look at bell training:

3. Barking

Very few of us want to encourage our dogs to bark. But if you can teach your enthusiastic pup to bark for a reason, then that skill might come in handy.

Not all dogs are barkers, so this method may not work for the quiet types. More vocal dogs, on the other hand, may excel at this fun lesson.

The first step is to teach your dog to “speak.” Many people have already included that command in their list of pet tricks. Now it’s just a matter of getting your dog to speak when he needs to go outside.

Follow the same routine as with the bell ringing — get Charlie to bark every time you leash him to go outside. As soon as he barks, open the door. With consistent training, your clever pup will begin barking whenever he wants to go outside.

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Some dogs can be trained to bring their leash to you. By: gazeronly

4. Bring the Leash

Just as not all dogs like to bark, not all dogs like to play fetch either. And fetch is the basic idea of this next method.

If your puppy likes bringing you toys, newspapers and shoes (even when you didn’t actually ask for them), he could be the perfect candidate for learning how to fetch his leash every time he wants to go outside.

Keep the leash near the door and somewhere accessible for Charlie. When you take him out, first give him the leash to hold in his mouth. After he gets the hang of that, give him the leash and walk away a couple of feet to encourage him to bring it to you. When he lets you have the leash, make sure you praise him and take him right out.

Work with him until he begins collecting the leash himself and, without your guidance, he’ll start bringing it every time he wants out.

Remember: Training takes time and patience. Be consistent in your methods, and eventually you’ll have a dog who’s happy to tell you when it’s time for a walk.

Allison Gray

View posts by Allison Gray
Allison Gray gained a wealth of knowledge about animal welfare issues and responsible pet care during her nearly 5 years of work for an animal shelter. She is a writer, photographer, artist, runner and tattooed remedial knitter. Allison also has been researching, testing out and perfecting nutritious pet treat recipes in her kitchen for Petful since spring 2017.

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