Teaching your dog to bark to alert you that he needs to go outside might be one of the most useful tricks you can teach and is much easier than you might think, especially if you have a very vocal dog!

To teach a dog to bark to go outside, you must break the trick into baby steps. The dog must first be potty trained and also to bark on command. If you live in an apartment, with close neighbors, or currently or might soon have a baby in your home, you may want to teach your dog to whine or ring a bell instead. (We do not advise teaching a dog to scratch the door to go out- once you've had to refinish a door because of dog scratches, you realize there are better methods!)

Once you have a potty trained dog who knows how to bark on command you just need to help your dog understand the link between the behaviors in order to teach them to bark to go outside:
  1. When you are taking the dog out on his normal schedule, simply pause before you open the door and say "speak" or whatever your command word for barking is.
  2. As soon as the dog makes a sound, open the door and excitedly tell him he's a good dog. (Treats are not needed for this trick since they need to understand that the reward is the opening door.)
  3. If, each time you go out, you require your dog to bark before he is allowed to go out he will quickly begin to associate barking with going outside and within a week or even less will begin to understand he can bark in order to communicate he needs out.

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Caution:
We don't advise using this method for already very vocal or high energy dogs. Once these dogs learn "bark" = "go outside" you may find yourself being woken up at 3am by an noisy dog who just wants to go outside and play! For these dogs, using a bell to give them the signal to go out is a much better choice, since you can either crate the dog or place the bell out of reach to guarantee quiet overnight.