I have been asked by several people how to get your dog to tell you when he needs to go potty outside. My first question in response to this request is why do you want to teach your dog to communicate that need to you?

  • Are you too lazy to take your dog outside on a schedule?
  • Do you think it’s cool that your dog could communicate with you like that?
  • Do you want your dog to boss you around?
  • Is your dog having trouble relieving himself inside and you think this might help?

If you’ve decided that your reasons are legitimate and realistic, here are some further thoughts. I would not suggest teaching your dog to bark, whine or scratch at the door to get you to open it since this habit is not easily removable. What I would suggest instead is to get a bell or something that jingles (I’ve even seen a hanging flashlight for this purpose), and ¬†hang the chosen object from the doorknob at a height that your dog can reach.

Before you take your dog outside have him touch the object until it makes a noise (either with paws or nose), then open the door for him. If he doesn’t go potty, bring him back inside and put him in a crate or another room for 5 minutes as a means of discipline. This way he will only ring the bell when he actually needs to go potty. Your dog will soon be getting your attention via a noise to let you know he needs to go outside.

Now, the downfall. My miniature schnauzer is very intelligent. In about two days he picked up on the fact that I would take him outside every time he rang the bell. We would go outside and he would pee a very small amount. We would then come back in and he would immediately ring the bell again. I would take him back outside, and he would pee a very small amount again. We would come back inside and the whole process would start over. So we removed the bell and just opted for taking him outside three times a day at specific times (8am, 4pm, and 10pm is what we generally do). But I have seen several dogs catch on to the doorbell method with very positive results. Let me know how it goes! Lead your dog!