If you observe your dog closely, you’ll probably notice he gives you some signs when he needs to relieve himself. Sometimes the signs are obvious, sometimes they’re a bit more subtle – but if you stay vigilant, you’ll be able to prevent your dog from having accidents by noticing the signals that he needs to go.

The most common signs that your dog needs to go potty are sniffing and circling. If you see your dog suddenly start to sniff the floor or you see him spinning or walking in little circles, jump right up and take him outside. No time to finish what you’re doing, since these signs mean he probably has to go RIGHT NOW!

Some dogs will start to whine, bark or pace if they need to go outside. If you’re doing umbilical cord training with your puppy or he’s leashed or tethered in the house, you may notice he starts to cry or pull on the leash. If you see these behaviors, take your dog out for a quick potty trip to see if he needs to go. Don’t allow him to stay outside and play, since we don’t want him to learn that fussing inside the house will earn him playtime outside. This should be a quick in and out – just long enough to see if he needs to go. For most dogs, a minute or two is plenty, although some dogs need to move around a bit to get their bowels moving. If that seems to be the case with your dog, you can walk him back and forth on-leash in a small area. Don’t walk him for a long distance or in a large area, since that offers too much new stimulation to distract him and he may forget why he’s out there – or even learn to hold it so he can walk longer.

If your dog starts to walk away from something interesting, that’s also a possible sign he needs to go potty. If you’re playing with your dog, giving him treats or doing something else fun with him and he walks away – or if he walks away from his food bowl while eating – that’s often a sign that he needs to go. Dogs and puppies generally like to be where the action is, so if you see him trying to wander off, take him to his potty area right away.

Another thing to watch for: Your dog is on the move and stops suddenly, stands with an unusual posture, or sits in an unusual position. This usually means the accident is actually starting to happen, so move fast!

One of the less charming ways that your dog might indicate he needs a potty trip is by getting a little stinky. If you notice that he has gas, there’s a good chance the boy needs to poo.

Another equally charming thing you’ll need to watch for is a change in the appearance of your dog’s butt. If you notice his tail is in an unusual position, his rectal area suddenly looks puffy or pink, or the opening is obvious (normally it should be closed!), this is a sign that he needs to go poo RIGHT THIS SECOND! Get him outside as quickly as humanly possible. You’ll be glad you did.

Go to Commandment #9.