Indications that your dog or puppy needs to go to the toilet

Indications that your dog or puppy needs to go to the toilet

When you are housetraining your new puppy, it is vitally important to give them every opportunity to go to the toilet, and not to ignore them when they ask to go out. The same is true for the adult dog in order to avoid stress and accidents, although older dogs that are fully housetrained will usually get into a routine where going to the toilet is concerned, and go at roughly the same times every day.

In order to be able to effectively housetrain a puppy or an adult dog, it is vital that you learn to recognise the signs that they need to go to the toilet. This is not only important to avoid making a mess within the home, of course, but because it is part of the reinforcement training that teaches the dog to go outside. If you do not respond to a dog when they need to go to the toilet or do not let them out when they ask, they will not be able to make the connection in their mind that asking to be let out will get them let out. Ergo they will not develop the understanding of asking in the first place, and will not learn to do so reliably.

Not all dogs and puppies will go to the door and bark and whine to go out, which are the most obvious indication that they need the loo, but they will rarely go to the toilet in the house without giving you a warning in their own way first! Read on to learn about the signs and indications that tells you that your dog needs to go to the toilet.

Sitting by the door

If your dog is sitting or standing by their access door and staring at it, it would be hard for them to make their meaning any clearer! This is usually how adult dogs that are housetrained will indicate that they need to go out, and if they are used to going out at similar times each day, you will often find them waiting for you there.

Barking, whining and discomfort

If your dog appears to be in discomfort or unhappy and is whining, grumbling to themselves or barking without cause, this is a clear indication that they are in need of something, and that something might well be a trip outside! Take your dog out if they are acting in this way, and learn by experience if this means that they are trying to let you know they need the loo.

Trying to get your attention

Dogs will try to get your attention for a wide variety of reasons! They might be bored, they might be begging for food or they might want to play- or, they might need the toilet. If your dog marches up to you and drops a toy in your lap, the chances are they want attention rather than the toilet, but if they appear to be doing a Lassie impression and trying to get your attention or get you to follow them, see if they are asking you to follow them to the door to get outside!

Unsettled behaviour

If your dog is unsettled, this can manifest in various ways. If you are trying to get your dog to lie down or be quiet but they are restless, or can’t seem to find a place to settle, or keep going from person to person or room to room, it is worth offering them the chance to go outside in case they are trying to tell you that they need the toilet.

Sniffing around

Dogs sniff about for all sorts of reasons, but if your dog appears to be sniffing around in quiet corners of the room or behind the sofa or in any other quiet area, they might be seeking a place to do their business. This is not always the case, but particularly for puppies who have not fully got to grips with going to the toilet outside, sniffing about in this manner can indicate that they are looking for a suitable location to do their business, and you should immediately offer them the opportunity to go out.


Dogs will circle around when they are looking for a place to sleep or are trying to make themselves comfortable to lie down, but again, circling can be an indicator in the puppy that they need to go out. If the circling is accompanied by sniffing around as mentioned above, this is almost certainly the case, and you will need to drop everything and move quickly in order to get your dog outside before they do their business! Again, as your puppy gets older they will begin to learn about asking at the door to go out, but as puppies begin to learn about housetraining by using puppy pads or going to the loo inside of the home, sniffing and circling are the last warning signs that you are likely to get before your puppy goes to the loo!



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