What is the best way to train a puppy to let you know when they need to go outside?
My puppy is about five months old and he seems to understand that he should do his business outside but doesn't seem to know how to let me know when he needs to go out. Whenever he has the occasional "accident" he tends to do it right in front of the front or back door. He's really quiet in general and never really cries or barks. I'm pretty sure he knows he's done wrong because he acts really guilty after he does it, even if I haven't noticed it yet. How can I train him to let me know when he needs to be let out?
The way I do it is I feed my puppy on a certain schedule. It usually takes puppies about 20-30 minutes to digest food. This way, I have a guess as to what time I should take him outside. I'm just an inexperienced puppy trainer so this might not be the best way but this is just my thought to your question.
I taught my Min Pin to scratch at the door when he wanted to go out. Every time we went out for a walk or to the bathroom, I would just take his paw and scratch the door with it. It didn't take him long to figure out that scratching the door meant I would open the door for him.
Now, he uses it to let me know when he wants out of a room, into a room, or outside to go to the bathroom - he has no problem separating the three issues and using one gesture for all of them. I have no problem hearing it as I can instantly recognize the sound.
That method may work with smaller dogs, but a larger breed is likely to leave a mark even if they are gentle. My 60# Boxer occasionally gives our bedroom door a light scratch when he wants to come snuggle and our door shows it.
That method could work and I'm sure my dog wouldn't do much damage since he's just a little chihuahua/yorkie mix but I'm not sure I'd be able to hear it
The best method I have found is teaching the dog to ring a bell. Hang jingle bells on the door and ring them when you take the puppy out. Eventually the pup will ring himself - praise him like crazy and take him out. Also keep in mind that we tend to relax when the puppy starts to "get it" and that can lead to accidents. Remember that he is still a baby and still needs you to pay attention and take him out when you know he should have to go.
Once he gets the hang of the bell, he may try to use it as a way to ask to go out and play. Just take him out on leash, give him a chance to potty then bring him indoors. He'll learn that ringing the help is foot business only.
I think your answer is in your post. While you absolutely can train your dog to ring a bell, scratch on the door (although you may not want dog claw scratches on your door) or any other notification, I always find the best way to know when my dog wants to go outside is for ME to learn HIS body language.
In your post, you say you find pee by the door. Well, if he's standing by the back door, he's screaming as loud as he can in doggie language "I NEED TO GO POTTY!!!"
Dogs communicate in non-verbal language. They are Kings at it. They can read the slightest movement of the pinky or the slightest movement of the eyes. I use those exceedingly subtle non-verbal communications always when training my champion agility dogs. However that communication is a two way street. I also learn immediately my dogs' individual non-verbal communications to me.
When it comes to peeing, I don't want a bell by my door. I just read what my dogs are saying. I had one dog that would just stare at me when he needed to go out. That was his signal. I learned to read it, and never missed it. In my current pack, one dog will pace by the door, one dog will whine and the third will stare at me. I suspect your dog is a stand quietly by the door sort of dog, and that's just fine. Learn to read it, and let him out. By doing that, you are training him to use that particular method of communication with you, but you have to pay attention to it.
You bring up a good point. I did not bell train one of my dogs because he paces in circles when he has to go out and the speed of his pacing indicates the level of urgency. The first dog I bell trained lived in an apartment where the primary door was
Just a note: It is not like my dog claws his way through the door aggressively; he simply takes his paw and runs his nails down the door. I have never seen a scratch mark left behind, and I would hate to own a door that would scratch that easily!
So far the only way I can tell he has to go is when he suddenly disappears or sniffs corners since he is almost always at my heels otherwise. I try catching him in the act or running him outside when I can but it's almost always too late.
In that case Lisa, it may help to back track and start taking him out more frequently - 20 Min or less after eating, drinking, waking up, or playing.
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