How a Tiny Bell on a String Can House Train Your Dog
By Chet Womach
For decades, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people have been unexpectedly stepping in wet, cold puddles of dog urine, as a result of not understanding what it really takes to house train a dog.
It's frustrating as hell, ruins your socks, and stains your carpet. But it doesn't have to be that way any longer. All you need is the right information, a string, and a little bell - and your dog won't mess on your floor ever again.
I house trained my dog to ring a bell to go potty at 11 weeks!
Hundreds of dog training experts are teaching techniques like how to use crates to build bladder strength and increase the length of time between eliminations; grinding your dog's face in his poo to teach him it's not OK; or methods even as intricate as getting a dog to go in a kitty litter box. And while all these techniques can work, they all have one major flaw...
... they all rely on your dog to hold his bladder for hours on end, until you finally remember that you should let him outside to go potty. This is fighting an uphill battle with your dog, because it is infinitely easier to teach an animal to DO something than it is to teach an animal to NOT do something.
This means that if we could find a way for our dog to tell us he has to go to the bathroom, that would be much easier than training him to NOT go to the bathroom
Here are a few more examples to show you what I mean...
It's much easier to teach your dog to sit when meeting a stranger than to NOT jump up on them. It's much easier to teach your dog to chew on one of his toys, than it is to NOT chew on your furniture. This is because we can reward a dog for a desirable behavior, but we can only PUNISH a dog for undesirable behavior. And when push comes to shove, a dog will obviously be more willing to work for praise, treats, and rewards, than be scared into submission with more aggressive tactics.
So let's take this philosophy, and I'll show you how I trained my brand new 11-week-old Golden Retriever puppy to tell us EVERY time he needed to go potty, by ringing a little bell I hung from a string on our back door.
Here's why this house training technique is so effective...
Obviously an eleven-week-old puppy hasn't fully developed his bladder strength yet, and he needed to relieve himself every couple of hours. If I wasn't there when my puppy was ready to go... we ended up with a puddle on our floor.
So I thought to myself, 'I don't want to just sit here watching my puppy's every move, just waiting for him to look like he needs to go outside. Why don't I train him to tell me?'
And that's exactly what I did. First I got some of our puppy's favorite treats and kept them in a bowl by the door, so I could have easy access to them when I needed them.
Then I tied a little jingle bell from our Christmas tree to a long string, and attached it to the handle of our door, so that it was within easy reach of my pup's nose. This made it so that every time I opened the door the bell would jingle, and I'd let my puppy outside.
Then I took it one step further. I spent a few days closely watching my puppy in our house (you could do this in a weekend). I'd watch for any signs that he was going to go potty - signs like sniffing the ground and pacing, like he's looking for a good spot to let it go.
When I saw my puppy doing this I'd immediately and gently distract him, rush him to the door, open the door and send him outside... of course this causes the bell to ring, which is important, as it starts to get the dog used to the fact that when the bell rings he goes outside.
Because the dog already had to go potty, as soon as he got outside he'd immediately go. I'd then toss him a treat and give him lots of praise. This taught the dog that he gets rewarded with a treat for going potty outside. And in my pup's little doggy brain, he very quickly started to realize that if he wanted one of those tasty treats, he had to go potty outside... and that that was the ONLY way to get one of his favorite treats.
After I'd spent a whole day doing this, I adjusted my strategy on the second day of training. Instead of just opening the door for my pup when it looked like he had to go, when I took him to the back door I made him bump into the bell with his nose before I opened the door for him.
And after a full day of bumping into that bell with his nose he was trained that if he just bumps that bell with his nose, I'll come open the door for him to go outside and go potty - and of course that earns him a treat!
This ends up being a HUGE blessing for me because I can be anywhere in the house and if my dog has to go to the bathroom I can hear him ring that bell. And because new puppies can't hold their bladders for very long, it was the perfect way to show him that there was a perfectly expectable way for him to ask to go outside.
Otherwise I'd never know when he wanted out, and even if he held it for as long as he could, if I wasn't there to let him out because I was in the other room watching TV, or not paying attention, he would have had another accident and it would have taken 3-5 times more time to house train my dog.
So remember, you'll have much more success with house training your dog if you focus on training him to DO something that's taking you closer to your house training goals, than it is to just get mad at him every time he has an accident.