Our first dog Tobler didn't ask to go out when she was young either. The dog trainer suggested that we hang a bell on a cord and put it on the doorknob. Using treats, we trained her to ring the bell and we opened the door whenever she did. If you don't have a fenced yard, you have to go out too or just stand inside holding the leash. It wasn't long before we stopped the treats and the reward was the open door. She abused the privilege sometimes, asking to go out when she just wanted to play but there were other times when she went down at 11 p.m. and rang the bell when we never would have imagined she needed to go. As she got older, we removed the bell and she just went to the door as needed. Good luck with Pepper!
Thanks for the thoughts, Barb. Pepper is frightened of squeaks, bells, sounds, in general, probably the string too. :). She will only go out in the fenced backyard in the dark, otherwise she is frightened of that too. And, there is the matter of the fact that she has to pass through the kitchen to get there, and she is frightened of the kitchen, and the rooms on the way to the kitchen have scary things in them, as well, like rugs...so you get the idea.
So, we have to stick to the schedule, because she won't come and find us if we are somewhere she is frightened of. She's our Pepper, and we love her!
I get it. Most of our dogs have had similar hangups about things like smoke alarms, a scary room, the vacuum or the coffee grinder.
Afraid of the kitchen :-)
I'm kind of afraid of the kitchen too. Just ask the family members who have to eat my meals.