Teaching Your Dog to Eliminate on Cue

Teaching your dog how to eliminate on cue (when asked) can be very helpful. I often Eliminate On Cuethink back to my service dog training days when discussing the benefits of a dog knowing how to poop on cue. For example, you may know that you are going on a 12-hour car ride and going potty now will help prevent an unnecessary pit stop in 30 minutes because your dog has to go. Or, you know a thunderstorm is going to roll in and taking that poop break will help ensure he doesn’t need to poop during the storm.

Now, this does not mean that your dog will not go potty unless he’s asked, it just will help you have a tool that you can ask him to go, and if he has it in him, he will likely try to get it out!

You can teach your dog or puppy to potty on cue anytime during his life, but the sooner you begin training, the more likely he will catch on quickly. The quickest way to success is to stay with your dog when he is outside. This can be accomplished best if he is on a leash. If your dog is not used to going to the bathroom on a standard 6′ leash, you can use a long 10-50′ leash, but again, you will want to be close to him, as I will explain in the next step.

Think of the time your dog is most likely going to eliminate. For most dogs, this is first thing in the morning. Toss a handful of treats in your pocket, snap on his leash and take him outside to his normal potty area. Allow him to sniff and investigate, as usual, keeping the leash slack by following where he prefers to go. Pay close attention to his body language. I’m sure you have a good idea what he does just before he goes. Just as he’s about to potty, say your potty word. For example, if he’s about ready to pee, and you want pee to be “potty” say, potty right before he squats or lifts and after he finishes, give him a treat, attention and let him off his leash if he’s in a fenced in yard. The same can be done for a bowel movement, “poopy” and he poops, and you treat. Repeat this for the next few days as often as you can.

After a few days, or possibly a week, your dog should be starting to get the idea of what the cue means and that he will earn a reward after he accomplishes the task requested. Now is the fun part. As you head outside for his morning potty, say the pee word sooner than he looks like he’s ready. Now he will be hearing his potty cue prior to him making an effort to pee. Hopefully, he will get the idea, do a little sniff, and then pee. If so, he deserves a big jackpot for being so smart.

As with any behavior, if you want the behavior to be strong and reliable, you must use it. This means, if your dog sees the backyard unsupervised, without the use of your potty cue, he will not recall what the potty word means. Make a point of practicing at least once a day and you will have a reliable potty cue.

Now, on your next road trip, getting Fido to eliminate on the spot will be much easier.

For more articles by Tonya Wilhelm visit: http://www.raisingyourpetsnaturally.com

About Tonya Wilhelm

Tonya Wilhelm, a dedicated dog training and cat care specialist, author, and public speaker, has traveled the US presenting seminars promoting positive ways to prevent and manage dog and cat behavior issues with a holistic approach. Named one of the top ten dog trainers in the United States, she has helped thousands of pet parents build happy, long-lasting relationships with their dogs using only humane, kind, and positive pet training methods. She has authored a variety of books, including Proactive Puppy Care, Please Stay-Help For A Dog With Separation Anxiety, Dexter's Delights-Fun and Healthy Treats For Dogs, and What's For Dinner, Dexter?: Cooking For Your Dog Using Chinese Medicine Theory. Tonya is a frequent blogger and contributor to various magazines. Local clients can choose group dog training classes or private, one-on-one behavioral training. Globally, Tonya provides pet training and behavior services via phone and the internet, and presents workshops at pet expos. Visit Tonya at www.raisingyourpetsnaturally.com


  1. Hi Tonya,

    Thanks for a great article. I am partially sighted and have used a Guide Dog for nearly 25 years.

    Next week I am ‘adopting’ a friend’s two long-haired miniature Daschunds. One is eight and the other thirteen. They have never had any formal training. I was wondering if it would be possible to teach them to “go ” on command. So it was amazing to see your article!

    Thank you so much,
    All the best,

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