Many, many people wish that their dog could ask for the things that they need. This is especially true when it comes to going outside to use the bathroom. We’ve all seen or heard of dogs who knew to ring a bell when they needed to be let out. How many accidents and carpet stains could have been prevented if your dog knew this trick?
For many of us, though, this type of training seems impossibly hard. We’re only barely managing to potty train the puppy, so how are we supposed to teach them a trick like that? Owners with dogs that ring bells seem like the same type of expert trainers who teach their dogs to surf and train their cats to use the toilet instead of a litter box. But despite what you might think, normal, busy people really can teach their dogs to ask to be let out. The steps below should help you get there in no time at all.
1. First, purchase and install the bell. Some pet stores sell bells and doorbells specifically designed for this purpose, but really, any small bell will do. (Check your local arts and crafts store.) Hang the bell from the door handle with a piece of string. Be sure that the bell is low enough that your puppy can reach it with his nose.
2. The next thing you’ll want to do is to introduce the bell to your dog. Hold the bell a couple of inches away from your pet’s nose, and wait for them to investigate. When they eventually touch and ring the bell with their nose, immediately praise them with enthusiasm, and give them a treat. Repeat this a few times until they understand that ringing the bell receives a positive reaction. If they are reluctant to investigate the bell, try rubbing a treat on the bell to give it an interesting and appealing scent.
3. When you’re taking your dog outside, pause for a second at the door. Ring the bell, and give a cue of some sort (“Go potty,” “Outside,” “Go out,” etc.). This cue should always accompany the bell ringing. Do this during every single bathroom break for a week or two.
4. After one or two weeks, give your dog the opportunity to try the bell on their own. Head to the door, and pause for a moment. Give your dog about ten seconds’ time while you wait to see if they ring the bell on their own. If they do, praise them enthusiastically and reward them with a treat or some other form of positive reinforcement.
5. If you wait by the door for ten seconds with no results, simply ring the bell yourself while giving the cue command. If you’d like, you can direct your puppy’s nose or paw to the bell, showing them the way to ring it themselves. If your dog does not ring the bell on the first try, don’t worry. It’s their first attempt; give them time. It doesn’t mean that the training isn’t working.
6. Continue the steps above, and wait patiently for the day that your dog starts to understand the process. For most dogs, this training is a short and painless process.
Truly, this is all it takes to train your dog to tell you when they need to go outside. With a bell and a little bit of patience, you can simplify your life significantly (and teach your dog an impressive trick in the process).
K9 Kingdom of Pittsburgh, PA
K9 Kingdom, located in northern Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is the area’s premier dog boarding, grooming, and play center. Their dedicated and knowledgeable staff is available to serve the residents of the Pittsburgh metro area by caring for their dogs, no matter the breed. For more information, visit their website at www.K9Kingdom.com today.