House training a puppy is never an easy process. Mistakes and messes will inevitably occur in the first few months, but it doesn’t take long for most dogs to catch on. A new trend that has proven very useful for families is to train your dog to tell you when he has to go by ringing a bell. You can generally implement this after training and weaning your dog from an indoor dog potty, pee-pads, and the like. Once they understand that they need to eliminate outside, they are ready for the bell!
This method is generally used to train guide dogs for the blind and sight-impaired, so you know that it works. While most of us are able to see when our dog is waiting to go out, it is easy to get wrapped up in work, kids, television, or cooking, and miss the signs. This is when accidents happen. There are a few easy steps and tricks to training your dog to ring a bell, which might remind you of Pavlov’s classical conditioning experiment.
- Your first step is to hang a string of bells close to the front door, or whichever door you usually take your dog through to go. Make sure it is long enough that your dog will be able to reach it. Put a little treat, such as peanut butter, on the bell closest to his nose height.
- Get your dog to lick the treat from the bell, which will make the string of bells ring. (Never shake the bells at the dog; he needs to understand that he is the one making the bells ring.) The trick is to get him to associate the treat with the bell and eventually the bell with the door opening and letting him out to do his business.
- When it is about the time for your dog to go, or you think he is ready to eliminate, put the bells back down and add some more peanut butter or other treat. Make sure you get him to ring the bells before you open the door to let him out every time.
- When you think your pup is starting to get the hang of it, try a few tests to see if he can figure it out. When you know he has to go, wait near the door with him until he rings the bell, encourage him however you can, and then say, “good boy!” when he rings it. You can also try leaving with the family, by closing the door right in front of your dog. If he rings the bells on the other side, then he’s finally got it!
Before you know it, your dog will touch the bells every time he has to go out, and you have completed your bell potty training. All puppies learn at different rates, so some dogs may get it in a few weeks, while others might not catch on for a month or more. Remember that you should never punish your dog for mistakes, and avoid violent or aggressive behavior when he has done something wrong. He will either feel abused, or merely think you are playing. Reward your pup for good behavior, and always use your tone of voice to determine your pleasure or displeasure with his actions.
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