[A] Ring the Bells To Go Out!
Article Copyright: Joan Walker

Ring the bells to go out!

Teaching your puppy not to soil in your house is not an easy task, but you can make it easier by teaching him or her to ring bells. Dogs find this fun and it gives you a clear indication what the dog is asking for.

Housebreaking is simple using this method. The one thing to remember is you won't get overnight results and it takes many months and sometimes up to a year to fully teach your dog to 'hold it' until you are around. After all, puppies are babies and just like human babies, they take time to learn things and their bodies are growing and changing all the while as well. Consistency & patience on your part is a must as well.

The first rule of housebreaking is not to use paper on the floor. You only teach the dog to pee in the house this way. Also you confuse the dog because one minute he's getting praise for peeing on the paper, the next outside. Then he gets scolded for messing off the paper but you just taught him inside is OK by giving him paper. Only he can't differentiate between which place inside you allow him to mess. Confused reading that? Well, so is the dog trying to learn by that method!

Now, you must confine your dog when you cannot supervise his actions all the time. Crate training is best, but if you absolutely refuse crate training, then a baby gate across a room that an occasional accident can be allowed to occur is best. We confine our dogs to the kitchen, which by the way has the door to outside with the bells.

Any inside messes whether it be pee or poop gets picked up with paper towels (sanitized and cleaned with an enzymatic cleaner like Nature's Miracle) and the dirty towels placed in a specific spot outside and left there. This is going to be your designated toilet area for a while until the dog gets the hang of this ‘outside business’. Doing this leaves the dog's scent there indicating in 'doggie lingo' that this is the spot to toilet at. Leave any poop there for a few days longer than you normally would as well. This helps to teach the dog. Only pick up the poop if you walk the dog where the law says you must pick it up or it's in a public area where it SHOULD be picked up.

Always walk the dog on a leash to teach them to housebreak. This is done even when using your own back yard. Why? Because this means business, not play. It keeps the dogs mind on the task at hand. Playtime is only for when the dog has done what you brought him out there to do. Never mix the two until your pup is fully housebroken.

Use lots and lots of praise when your dog does toilet outside. Make a big deal out of it. Don't use food treats as the dog will only become accustomed to receiving food for doing what he needs to learn. Praise works best. This goes for any training, whether it be obedience, or tricks or housebreaking.

Now you need to get a regular schedule installed for ‘potty time’ and food. Young dogs eat 4 times a day. This makes for allot of poop and pee! Water needs to be left out at all times but now until your dog is trained or it is unbearably hot and you've no air conditioning, you need to start taking the water away in the overnight hours. Taking the water away gives you a fighting chance.

So now you feed the dog at the same time for each meal (as the dog gets older and you reduce the meals, you still keep your schedule). When the dog is finished eating, IMMEDIATELY put his leash on and take the dog outside. Use the SAME WORDS to indicate the dog is going outside to toilet. We use, "Want to go out?". This is another tool that shows the dog what is going to happen next.

So, as you're putting the leash on, say "want to go out?" and take the dog to the designated toilet area. You must stay there until the dog does his 'business'. We used to say 'go piddle' or 'go potty' and all the other words we want the dog to associate with going out to toilet. Once the dog actually does his 'business' you give lots and lots of animated and happy praise.
Keep in mind you could be outside for quite a while before the dog learns what you're there for. Patience, patience, patience! Also, once the dog goes in the spot you designate more and more, the time you wait for the dog to 'go' will be shorter. A new spot is always the longest wait. Now take the dog inside. Lesson done.

If you planned on a combined pleasure and toilet walk, put the leash back on the dog and go outside now to 'play'. Keep the two separate until your dog is totally housebroke or has learned to use the bells consistently.

Your dog should understand the words and the routine for this after a day or two, but not necessarily be good enough to start asking to go out yet. But the words you use now are going to be recognizable to him. You should use the same door to teach the dog to toilet outside every time. This is another indicator to the dog what is expected of him.

So now the basics are done. You are going to get a pair of sleigh bells. I used a pair I had from an old Christmas decoration I tore apart for this lesson. If you don't have any lying around, you can find sleigh bells in any equine supply shop or Christmas shop. Search on line if you need to. Craft stores will have bells too. The bigger the bell, the louder it is, so get big bells. We have a pair bells around 2 inches across.

Loud bells are very nice when you are sleeping and the dog needs to go. We are pulled from a dead sleep every night at the exact same time by our dog because she always has to go and using the bells allows us to hear her signal. Even if you have your bedrooms upstairs those bells are easily heard!

OK, attach the bells to a string or ribbon, and tie that to the door and make the length low enough for your dog to reach them without having to jump up at them. You will be adjusting the height of the bells as the dog grows.

Next time you need to take the dog out, like after the next meal, you are going to shove its nose into the bells (gently!) and AT THE SAME TIME you will be saying, "want to go out?" (or whatever your tag line is). Repeat this a couple times giving the dog a second to try it on his own. When the dog does this on his own repeat the phrase, 'Want to go out?' and praise Rex and GO OUT to the designated toilet area.
Keep in mind that the dog may not mimic your bell ringing the first few times you start teaching this, but usually dogs pick this up fast. Why? Because making noise is fun for dogs! It's also probably one of the few noisy things inside you're going to allow the dog to do.

Do this until you hear the dog do it on his own. Make sure you ALWAYS ask, ''Do you want to go out?'' every time the dog rings the bells.

Now you are going to have accidents on occasion. You may slack off in your 'baby sitting' or may not make it home from work on time etc, and you'll see the dog's mess by the door you take him out from. This is GOOD! Soiling BY the door is a good sign that the dog knows this is the door he goes out to toilet from and although he messed up there, it shows there was an effort made only you weren't there to prevent it. Never scold your dog for having an accident while you are not home and especially if Rex has had his accident by the door. Simply greet your dog, clean the mess and ask if he wants to go outside and TAKE Rex outside and praise him for his effort when he piddles for you.

Another thing you must remember is to NEVER scold the dog for messing in the house. Most times you will never catch the dog making a mistake with your own eyes. You will most likely only find it long after the accident has been done. So you simply clean it up, put the paper outside as instructed and take the dog out to toilet. Never rub your dogs face in the mess either. Both these methods only teach your dog that 'doing his business' is bad, not the act of going in the house. He's a dog. He doesn't have the ability to reason and sort those kinds of thoughts out.

If you do catch the dog in the act, simply pick the dog up (sometimes this can be messy so be prepared!) and take the dog outside all the while saying, “do you want to go out?” When the dog is finished, praise and bring him inside.

So remember, patience, diligence and the proper sequence of commands will get results. Hollering and beatings only frighten and prolong your progress and frankly are just cruel.

Good luck and happy housebreaking.

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