Teaching the dog to “go potty” outside

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Teaching the dog to “go potty” outside

Updated Dec 21, 2021

Dear Cathy,

Evelyn in Las Vegas had a question about training her two dogs. We have a similar problem with our Australian Cattle dog, who is almost two years old. She rings the bell at the door about half the time but doesn’t “go” outside consistently. My carpets are a mess. She is a good dog otherwise, intelligent and sweet. I must have missed your earlier column and wonder if you could repeat what you told Evelyn that brought her such success.

— Susan, Wadsworth, Illinois

Dear Susan,

I offered some training techniques on re-housetraining a dog that included teaching a dog how to “go potty” on command. Because of the number of letters from readers requesting the same information, I am more than happy to give these instructions again.

Whenever a dog begins soiling in the house, you have to treat the dog like a puppy and begin housetraining all over again. That means you must take your dog outside to relieve himself whenever you come home and immediately after the dog wakes up, finishes eating, and stops playing. Because dogs are creatures of habit, you should also know approximately when and where your dog is having accidents in the house and anticipate this by taking the dog outside 20 minutes prior to the offense.

To teach a dog to “go potty” on command, watch your dog’s body language outside. As soon as she gets into position to relieve herself, say “go potty” and then follow that with a reward word, like “Bingo,” and a treat, so she knows you approve of the behavior. If you are outside for longer than 15 minutes, repeat the routine again before taking your dog back into the house.

All dogs can be distracted by the sights and sounds outside. That’s why some dogs pee as soon as they come into the house. Once you teach your dog to “go potty” on command, you can ask them to do it a few times before they re-enter the house to make sure there won’t be any accidents.

Your dog should understand “go potty” as they do commands, like “sit” and “stay.” Hope this helps.

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to cathy@petpundit.com. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal

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Cathy Rosenthal, CHES, CFE
Animal Welfare Communications Specialist

Cathy brings more than 25 years' experience in the animal welfare field. She is a sought-after speaker, Certified Humane Education Specialist, a syndicated pet advice columnist, an author, a publisher, and of course - a loving pet parent.

Read more about Cathy here or check out her Non-Profit's page to see more ways she can help you and your organization.

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