Early this week I installed a new Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® system in Lake Worth for a new client and his Shiba Inu, Willow. Willow liked to sneak through my client’s hedge to visit the neighbors and harass their cats. After one training session, Willow decided that she would rather stay home and play with her own toys. My client was very happy with the results, but had one more question regarding something that was really bugging him about Willow. It seems that he taught Willow to ring the bell to go to potty when she was a puppy. Now that she is older, she rings the bell all the time just to go out. She rings the bell ten to twenty times a day just to get outside. My client was ecstatic about keeping Willow in the yard, and he wondered if there was any way to keep her from ringing the bell to go out all the time.
Many people have trained their dogs to ring the bell whenever they want to go outside to potty. This is a natural, reactive lesson that usually works well for many dogs. The problem is that, initially, puppies almost always have to potty when they go out. Their bladder is small so they need to get out often. As dogs age, their bladder grows and they don’t need to go out as much to potty.
The problem now arises because we have taught our dog to “Ring the bell and you go outside”. We have also conditioned ourselves with the need to open the door every time we hear the bell or we may find an accident on the carpet. This is the root of the conflict.
We must understand that teaching our dog to go outside when he always had to go potty has now transferred to having him ring the bell whenever he just wanted to “step out for a moment and chase the birds”. We must also get over the fear that if we miss one time of letting him out, he will potty on the carpet. We must also come to grips that we now have a potty trained dog and the bell is superfluous in this respect.
So, what do we do about the bell ringing and always demanding to get outside? Here are a few steps you should take to reverse the “annoying ringing”.
- Start decreasing the number of times you let your dog out when he rings the bell. Every third time he rings the bell, ignore him. After about 30 seconds, call him to you and engage him in some activity to redirect his focus from the door.
- Slowly increase your level of “ignoring and redirecting” with your dog until you are only letting him out for potty only or when you would have naturally let him out for play time.
- Now, put something on the bell that muffles the sound. When he rings the “muffled bell”, don’t open the door immediately. Wait 30 seconds, call him to you, and then you and he walk out the door together. If he won’t stay with you, click a leash on him.
- Continue this process until his “number of rings” decreases to approximately represent the number of times he needs to be let out for potty. Keep notes of these times and only open the door at the times you have continually recorded as “I need to go potty now bell rings”. Be sure to call him to you before you go outside and that he always walks with you to go out.
- Now, REMOVE THE BELL. Since you are now only responding to his potty moments and that response includes his coming to you, the bell is no longer needed. As soon as he sees that the bell isn’t there, he will move to the next step in the process, which is to come to you.
- Since you know when his approximate potty times occur, you can act on his “real bathroom breaks” and ignore his “I just want to go outside demands”.
Just with the invisible dog fences, dogs learn through clear choice, repetition, and consistency. Teaching your puppy to ring the bell to go out sounds like a great idea. The problem arises if your puppy later transfers the association of ringing the bell to simply going out to play. Robin and I can clearly help you understand what to teach your puppy and what might ultimately create unwanted behaviors. You can find us by clicking Dog Fence Training Help. We have more great dog training and dog safety tips at Best Out of Sight Fence Trainers Lake Worth South Florida. We are also professional dog trainers with over eleven years experience. We invite you to find out about our dog training methods at Home Dog Training South Florida.