Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Reinforcing dog bell housetraining

It's too cold out here! I'd rather pee indoors!
After we brought Liam home from the kennel earlier this month, he had two accidents in the house. Needless to say, I was shocked.

Liam has been trained to ring a bell when he has to go outside, and he's always been a stickler about using the bell each and every time he wants to go outside. All I can think is that he was allowed to urinate anywhere he wanted to while he was at the kennel, and he figured this was a good freedom to have when he was at home.

The wet, rainy weather we have here doesn't help, either, as Liam avoids going outside in these conditions. Just look at him in this photo! He looks miserable.

Thankfully, retraining a dog to use a bell is pretty easy.

Whenever I see Liam circling, I tell him to "Ring the bell!" in a high, idiotic voice. Then, I shuttle him outside to go to the bathroom. When he does pee outside, I congratulate him in my wee, weird voice and hustle him back inside for a cookie.

Why the high voice? Dogs often interpret that as excitement and joy. And for dogs with submissive pee issues like Liam, that voice often makes the water flow. By using it, I'm making him excited about going outside. And I am almost ensuring that he will actually pee when we get out there. Win win!

The trouble with this is that it has to be repeated—a lot. Every time Liam rings the bell, I rush him outside. And right now, we're in the testing phase. He's ringing the bell every 10 to 15 minutes, and hoping for a cookie each time. I hope this phase passes quickly.

Read more about bell training here.