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Old 11-24-2012, 03:56 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Ringing a bell to go outside

How do I teach my dogs to let me know they need to go out? Specifically, I want them to make a noise (ringing a bell, for example). This is a little embarrassing since I've owned all my dogs for a long time, but our situation has changed. Previously I could see the back door from my home office (I work from home), so I would notice when they went to stand by the door and could just let them out. Now, however, I moved in with my boyfriend and can't see the back door from pretty much anywhere we spend time in the house, so them silently standing by the door doesn't do much good. My 2 oldest dogs have poor bladder control too so often when they need to go, they really need to go and can't wait until I let them out the next time. As a result, we've had a some accidents right next to the back door.

I've taught my dogs to ring the bell itself, but I can't seem to make the connection to "ring bell when you need to go out." Right now, when I do see that they want to go out or we go on one of our regularly-scheduled trips outside, I have them ring the bell first and then let them out immediately. Am I just not giving it enough time (these are older dogs, after all, and set in their ways) or is there something else I need to do?
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Old 11-24-2012, 04:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
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We got Nala at 8 weeks and she was completely house broken in 2 to 3 weeks using the bell. All I did was every hour, I walked her to the door and hit the bell which was at her nose height with my hand and take her out to go potty. Within a week she would hit it with her nose to go out.
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Old 11-24-2012, 04:11 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Do you have the bell hanging on the door itself where they can hit it with their nose? I don't know other than standing at the door with them and ringing it every time that you take them out so that they would associate the bell ringing with outside. I just hung mine on the door and it didn't take long for my boy to ring it, sadly to say he will also ring it just to get to go outside even when he does not need to potty.

Hope that you find something that will work so that they can alert you.
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Old 11-24-2012, 04:17 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Yeah, it's hanging right at nose level so it's really easy. I think I probably just need to give them more time. After all, when all you've had to do to go outside for the last 12 years is stand quietly by the door, it might take a bit to get in the habit of having to ring a bell first.

Amusingly enough, my GSD has already developed an understanding of the bell. Of course, he's never been the problem since he will vocalize at the door when he needs to go out. Isn't that the way it goes? LOL
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Old 11-24-2012, 04:33 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Everytime you catch them at the door ring the bell then open the door. Everytime you think they need to go out, bring them to the door, ring the bell then put them out.


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Old 11-24-2012, 05:20 PM   #6 (permalink)
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This is a little different, since my puppy was 12 weeks when he learned to ring the bell..with older dogs it probably isn't quite as easy. Everyones suggestions are great, but you also mentioned that they already know how to ring the bell...try letting them out everytime they ring it. It will seem a little much at first but they should quickly make the connection...
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Old 11-24-2012, 05:55 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I've always had a verbal cue associated with the door opening - "outside". (I have an additional potty cue, for once we're out there.) So when I taught the bell, we'd walk up to the door, I'd ring the bell, and say "outside" as I opened the door, which helped associate the bells with going outside.

I first taught Cassidy, who was a couple years old at the time, because she would sit in front of the door and wait to be noticed. The door we use is from the house to the garage, and then there's a door in the garage into the dog run down the side of the house, which is the potty area. If we were in the living room watching TV we couldn't see the hall where the door was, and sometimes we'd notice she wasn't around and go looking for her, only to see her sitting at the end of the hall in front of the door. Who knows how long she had been patiently waiting, but she would not bark or whine or scratch at the door to alert us that she need to go out, so I got some bells to hang over the doorknob.

I ordered them online, they showed up on a Wednesday evening, and by Friday she was tentatively bumping them with her nose to go out. I made a big deal about it - "YES! Outside!", and I'd open the door for her. It didn't take long at all before I could just ask her "do you have to go outside?" and she'd run to the door and ring the bells.
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Old 11-27-2012, 12:51 PM   #8 (permalink)
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This might not work for everyone, and its very lazy, but here is how I did it.

1) Hang a bell from the door handle.
2) continue potty training in the usual fashion, however make sure to ring the bell (either by touching it yourself, or by the natural opening of the door) everytime you take your dog out.
3) once your dog understands he/she has to "Go" outside, wait for them to jump up at the door, before letting them out.
4) once the dog is jumping up, when he/she needs to go, gradually switch to only opening for bell rings.
5) your dog should naturally progress to just ringing the bell, rather than jumping up, especially if the bell is keep low enough for him/her.

Maya will now always ring the bell when she needs to "go potty", apart from if she has an accident (in which case we take her outside) or if its raining (we try to be ontop of her when it rains so we take her out quite regularly.
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Old 12-02-2012, 03:54 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FirstTimeGSD View Post
This is a little different, since my puppy was 12 weeks when he learned to ring the bell..with older dogs it probably isn't quite as easy. Everyones suggestions are great, but you also mentioned that they already know how to ring the bell...try letting them out everytime they ring it. It will seem a little much at first but they should quickly make the connection...
Oh I definitely let them out every time they ring. I think it would defeat the purpose otherwise. I even let them out when they accidentally brush against it or whatever.

Thanks for all your suggestions. It's going a little better. I think we're starting to make the connection, it's just hard to get them in the habit.
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Hector-2 y/o GSD (mix?) rescue
Scooter-12 y/o ACD/Border Collie mix
Bandit-8 y/o ACD
Wooby-14 y/o ACD
Abutiu "Abi"-ACD puppy and hopeful future SAR dog!
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Old 12-08-2012, 04:40 PM   #10 (permalink)
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My wife and I tought our GSD to ring a bell because we live in a condo and didn't want her to bark and bother other neighbors.
The way we did it was every time she hinted she needed to go out I rang the bell we tied to the sliding door handle. After a day of doing that we would wait by the door when she hinted she had to go out, and ring the bell and wait for her to hit it with her nose. And when she would do it we would excitedly say good girl and open the door. She got it in two to tree days.
The problem was when we would go to my brothers house for the weekend. She would need something on there door handle to notify us that she wanted to go out. It took about a month or so to train her to bark or sit near the door to let us know she wanted to go out. ( only at other people's houses )
She still uses the bell at home all the time. Works perfect for our situation.
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