Training Your Dog to Ask You to Potty
Potty training is a difficult part of sharing your home with a dog. If only puppies and dogs were pre-programmed to potty outside. 🙂 But that’s not the case, and it’s the pet owner’s job to teach a dog to potty outdoors.
Crate training and following a schedule are the foundations of potty training, but sometimes puppies and dogs need to potty regardless of a schedule. In this case, teach your dog a cue that tells you he needs to potty. Here’s how to teach your dog to ask you to potty and a few easy cues to use.
“Hello, I Need to Potty” Cue Ideas
Pick an easily visible behavior that your dog does often, and teach your dog that this specific behavior means “I’ll open the door, so you can potty.” Picking a cue is the hard part, so pick something easy. Here’s a list of easy cues that most dogs and puppies offer daily.
- Sitting by the back door. This cue only works if you’re able to see your dog sitting next to the door.
- Dog walks over and sits in front or side of you. (Dog trainer recommended!)
- Puppy or dog looks at you, then the back door.
- Walking toward the back door.
- Sitting on a special mat placed in an easily visible area like in the living room or in front of the TV.
- One or two barks at the door.
Choose only one cue and stick with it, and make sure you’re able to see your dog offer this behavior or it will become meaningless.
How to Reinforce “I Need to Potty” Cue
Once you and your entire family have chosen a “I need to potty” cue, it’s time to teach your dog what the cue means. Every time your dog offers this cue, immediately get up and let your dog outside to potty.
When cooking dinner, keep an eye on your puppy and immediately bring your puppy out to potty when he offers this behavior. If you’re unable to keep an eye on your dog or puppy, put him inside his crate with a food stuffed toy.
For example, when potty training my Rottweiler, I noticed a peculiar behavior. He walked over and pushed the mini-blinds with his nose, which I assumed meant, “I need to go outside now.” I jumped up and let him out to potty.
From then on, he pushes the blinds when he needs to potty. 🙂 He learned that lightly pushing a specific blind in the living room with his nose would make me get up and open the back door for him. While this can become a pestering issue later, it’s an easy fix. Right now, it’s important to teach your dog how to ask you for a potty break.
Continue to reinforce this dog behavior, and soon your dog or puppy will learn how to tell you, “Hey, I need to potty.”