Thursday, September 8, 2011

"He doesn't let us know that he needs to 'go' out!"

This is a very common's a common belief that dogs inherently bark or whine when they need to go outside.  In reality? Not so.

Me: Most dogs won't and it has to be trained.  For most dogs, you have to get them into a schedule and remember to take them out on a regular basis.  Be aware of how changes in weather as well as changes in food and water intake will impact your dog's needs.

Student: But my friend/sister/neighbor/coworker has a dog that rings a bell to go out! I want my dog to do that!

Me: Excellent, that's a great goal.  A rough outline of our steps:  5-10 sessions to teach your dog to ring the bell on cue. We want to be careful that the noise and motion doesn't scare your puppy.  We have to have very good house training to start with too.   The next step is to teach your puppy to ring the bell, then go out to potty.  Not for walks or fun play. You will have to put away the bells as soon as you come back in.  The next stage is for teaching your puppy to ring the bell on his own to go out and not to ring it to go out for play.      Some dogs learn this right away with no training..... it might be worth a try.     But on average it takes 4-6 weeks of diligent training to get them started.  

Student: Oh.  

Me:  Isn't your house three floors? Will you be able to hear the bells when you are upstairs/the other side of the house/in the basement?

Student:  No! What do I do!

Me: You could have several sets of the entry point to each floor....  but the same long training process.  It's really much easier to be good about taking your dog out.

Student:  Hmm.....

Me:  Let's address the house training first, and then we will re-evaluate your goals.

Notes on house training:

  • Limit freedom
  • Reinforce correct responses
  • Keep a chart
  • Prevent errors
  • No don't want your puppy to hide to pee indoors....unpleasant surprise.
  • Continue to reinforce outdoors to build motivation. The more motivated your puppy is to get outside...the more likely he is to let you know.
  • Next time around...if you are getting a dog from a breeder, find a breeder who starts the house training. There is NO good reason for a breeder to ignore this.  
  • Bigger crates are better than smaller crates.
  • If you are getting many errors or see a sudden change for the worse, visit your vet.

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