How to Get Your Dog to Communicate When It Needs to Go to the Bathroom

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The days of endlessly walking your dog in the hopes of him going potty are over. Whether you're housebreaking a puppy or have a fully house-trained dog, teaching him to communicate can make life a lot easier. Right now your furry friend might resort to barking, scratching at the door or jumping on you when he has to go potty. Although sometimes helpful, these warning signs can ultimately turn into hard-to-break habits. To avoid this and to put a stop to never-ending walks, teach your dog to ring a bell to alert you he has to go potty.

Attach a piece of string to a bell and hang it next to the door, ensuring your dog can reach the bell with his nose and paws. A cow bell or a string of sleigh bells works well.

Stick to your normal schedule and ring the bell each time you take your pet companion outside to go potty. Say "go potty," and make sure your dog sees you tapping the bell with your finger before you open the door and take him to his designated outdoor potty area. Do this consistently so your dog starts associating the bell with the door opening and going potty outside.

Supervise your furry friend closely and look for signs he has to go to the bathroom. When he starts circling, pacing, barking, scratching the door or jumping, repeat the same process: Say "go potty," ring the bell while he's watching you and bring him to his outdoor bathroom area.

Ring the bell for about two weeks each time you take him to go potty, then see if he'll ring it himself. When it's time to take him outside, walk him to the door, say "go potty," and wait to see if he'll ring the bell. If he does, praise him and bring him to his potty area. If he doesn't ring the bell, ring it yourself and bring him to his bathroom area. The next time, put a small piece of cheese on the bell. The yummy treat might encourage your dog to sniff and lick the bell so it rings.

Give your dog only five minutes to do his business each time you take him outside after ringing the bell. You don't want him to think he's going outside to play. If he goes potty, lavish him with praise and dog treats to reinforce the behavior, and bring him back inside. If he doesn't go potty, bring him back inside and repeat the process again a little later. Over time, your pet companion will start understanding that ringing the bell is only for potty time and not playtime.

Items You Will Need

  • String
  • Bell
  • Cheese
  • Dog treats