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We put a bell on our door and ring it in front of our terrier mix dog every time we go potty. She just looks away or at the bell and makes no attempt to ring the bell herself.
She is indifferent to it. How can we get her to ring the bell? Putting it in front of her and "trying to hit it with her paw" isn't communicating to her.
Thank your for your assistance with this matter.
Hi there Robert.
Thank you for your email regarding your terrier mix dog. Getting a dog to do a trick like that is often difficult and it sometimes does not work because the dog has trouble understanding what you are wanting her to do. Here are some tips to help you out.
Your dog needs a way to communicate that she needs to go to the bathroom.
First, you need a few things:
1. A single "jingle bell" on a string long enough for your dog to touch it with her nose when hung from a doorknob. (If you have a really small dog, then purchase a hotel desk bell that sits on a counter.
2. Food treats near the door (so your reinforcements will be readily available). There are two different methods to train this exercise - both work well.
3. A Clicker (available for purchase from Pet Stores).
This method has two parts:
First: You will teach the dog a "targeting" behavior. Use the palm of your hand first. Have a bag of treats ready and your clicker too. Put your right hand out with your fingers facing the floor and visible to dog (you can rub a bit of hot dog onto the palm if you like). Once your dog sniffs your palm, then click and treat (with your other hand, of course). When your dog touches her nose to your palm any time you ask (you have done this at least 30 times and put it on cue), then the next step is to hold the bell by the string at nose height and ask the dog to "touch" it. As soon as she rings the bell with her touch, c/t and jack pot. Now do this 20 times. Hang the bell by the string from the door handle low enough so the dog can easily touch it with her nose, ask for "touch" and then reward when she touches the bell hanging from the knob.
Second: Next we tie this behavior to going out. When you think your dog might have to go out say something like "do you have to go out?" As your dog heads towards the door, say "touch". Your dog should touch bell. If she forgets then ring it your self or just point it out to her ask again. Once she touches (ringing the bell), then give a treat and let your dog out. After you have done this 20 times, the dog is going to "ring" the bell herself.
When you hear her ringing it on her own, yell out "Yes!!!" And ask, "Do you have to go out?" Let your dog out and give treat only if she goes to the bathroom. Make sure you put your dog on a time schedule - 2 minutes to go to the bathroom once she has been let out after ringing the bell. If she doesn't do his business in that time, put her in her crate when you come back into the house or make her lie down for 2 minutes. Otherwise you will end up with a dog that rings the bell to go out side, but doesn't need to go to the bathroom.
Decide on what bell you are going to use, then put it in a place so dog can get to it. Now, when your dog might need to go out ask, "do you have to go out?" When your dog gets to the door, YOU "ring" the bell. Next time you feel your dog needs to go out, again ask, "do you have to go out?" and go right to the door. Then at the door, use your finger to almost touch the bell luring the dog's nose to the bell and let her ring it. After doing this several times the dog should do it on her own. When your dog looks and nudges at it say "YES" and give her a treat. Let the dog out. Once she has gone to the bathroom, reward the dog again. I would start only allowing the dog 5 minutes to go to the bathroom. If she doesn't do anything, then put her back in crate or make her lie down for 2-3 minutes by your side. Now at some point the dog will on his own 'ring the bell'. You must get up and praise her. Give two treats the first time dog does it by herself and ask, "do you have to go out" and take the dog out. Once the dog understands to 'ring the bell' you will no longer have to give it a treat just letting it out will be enough.
REMEMBER DOGS DO WHAT WORKS!
I hope that these tips help you out. Be patient. Some dogs take longer to pick up things than other dogs.
Best of luck with your training and please let us know of any success.
Daniel Stevens and the Secrets to Dog Training Team
I've been a professional dog trainer for well over 20 years, and in that time I've helped thousands of dog owners just like you to get the friendly, well behaved, slipper fetching, best pal they always wanted.
But it didn't start out that way. I've always loved dogs, some things never change. But when I first started my professional dog training career I relied on the so-called 'best practices' when it came to dog behavior training. It was only when I heard people tell me over and over again that they just weren't seeing results that I started to question the old accepted wisdom. So I started a journey, a quest to search out the best, most effective, techniques, tips, and tricks that really work.
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