Author Topic: Potty Training Bells  (Read 1530 times)

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Offline mganz42

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Potty Training Bells
« on: March 29, 2016, 04:34:03 PM »
Hi there!
Finn is now 6 months old and training is going BEAUTIFULLY.  I've washed him out as a balance dog because it looks like he won't get nearly tall enough but I have high hopes that he can still help out with doors/retrieving things/whatever else I can think of.

We finally got through the worst of potty training and I'm now taking him out every 3 hours with no accidents for the last few weeks.  However I'll be spending several weeks at my parents' house after a surgery over the summer and I KNOW they won't be able to keep track of the time and will forget to let him outside.  So I decided to start training him with bells. 

He didn't seem to understand them for the first few weeks, but I guess the lightbulb finally went on and he figured out what they're for.  Unfortunately he seems to be TOO good at using the bells.  He now rings them 30 minutes after we go out - any time someone is in the hallway, or he sees a dog outside the window, or he gets bored and just wants to go outside.  If I had a yard it would be fine and I would just let him out but I live in an apartment building where it takes about 10 minutes of walking to get to a patch of grass where he can go.  Obviously a potty break every 30 minutes is just not feasible.  If I ignore him he just rings the bells more forcefully.  At this point they don't really give me any indication of whether he actually needs to go.  How do I get him to understand that the bells are only for when he needs to potty, and not whenever he feels like going outside?

Offline Kirsten

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Re: Potty Training Bells
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2016, 06:47:08 PM »
Don't just let him out when he rings the bell.  That makes the bell mean, "hey, I think I might like to go out, maybe sniff stuff or pee or just watch the butterflies" instead of "I need to toilet."

When he rings the bell take him out on a short leash straight to the designated toilet area.  Do not dawdle.  Do not play.  Do not sniff except within 4 feet of the toilet area.  Give him five minutes.  If he doesn't toilet in that time, calmly but silently walk back inside.  Next time he rings, do the same.  Make it clear that when he rings the bell the only option he will be given is to toilet and nothing else.  He does not have to toilet on grass and should be capable of toileting on any common toilet surface, including concrete gutters on streets, gravel (not used for walking paths or decoration), wood chips (same as gravel), and so on.

I'm concerned that at six months he's not solid on toilet training yet and that he's had some accidents.
Kirsten and Tardis
In loving memory of Cole (1/11/99 - 6/26/12)  He gave me back my life.

"The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world -- the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous -- is his dog." -George G. Vest

Offline mganz42

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Re: Potty Training Bells
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2016, 07:04:07 PM »
Well, that sounds a lot like our usual potty routine - I usually take him straight to the potty spot and then directly inside.  However we have to ride an elevator and go through the lobby (where we usually see people and other dogs) on our way.  Perhaps I should take him directly out the door to the parking garage?  I doubt my neighbors would appreciate it (if they noticed at all) but it would certainly be a less interesting location for potty breaks...

And don't worry, he is not having accidents at 6 months.  He had a few up until 5 months but those were usually when someone gave him a lot of water and I didn't know about it (like at the vet) or when I couldn't chase him away from all the puddles at the dog park.  :laugh:

Offline Kirsten

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Re: Potty Training Bells
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2016, 09:04:42 PM »
Don't let him toilet inside a garage. The stench left to build up will be unbearable. I meant a gutter outside with fresh air and rain to wash it away.

If you're on top of toilet training, there are no accidents at any age. Each time the dog toilets inappropriately (indoors) his future reliability on toileting is permanently diminished. It takes a lot of work and dedication to stay on top of things and not allow them to practice toileting indoors, but that's exactly what you need to create a highly reliably trained dog.

By five or six months of age mine are fully trained. I can sleep through the night and leave pup loose as I sleep without consequence. Pup will wake me if he becomes ill. Water is left out all day and all night. There are no accidents. There are none for years. Not until they become very old and infirm and a few lose bladder or bowel control toward the end of life.

If I'm religious about supervision from 8-16 weeks the worst is over, for life. If I'm not, and I was not with one dog due to extenuating circumstances, then there will periodically be break downs and inappropriate toileting scattered throughout the dog's life. Not every day or even every week or month. But often at the very least opportune moment. Never quite get it 100% stamped out and Murphy's law sucks.  You see, as with any other training, a bad habit is a good ten times easier to prevent than to fix after it is established.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2016, 09:06:17 PM by Kirsten »
Kirsten and Tardis
In loving memory of Cole (1/11/99 - 6/26/12)  He gave me back my life.

"The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world -- the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous -- is his dog." -George G. Vest

Offline eva

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Re: Potty Training Bells
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2016, 11:23:12 PM »
Kirsten, are you saying that any accidents in the house while potty training means we are doomed to never having the dog fully potty trained?

Offline Kirsten

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Re: Potty Training Bells
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2016, 04:17:26 PM »
No not doomed.  I'm saying each incident of inappropriate toileting will make future training harder and the results of training less reliable.  If you are diligent you your obligation to not give them the opportunity to make a mistake before they have sufficient understanding to make an informed and willful choice (called "zero fault" training) you'll wind up with a dog who when faced with a decision about whether or not to toilet will try hard to exhaust other options before doing it.  Not because he fears punishment but because he doesn't want urine or feces in his home any more than you do.

In my home right now I have two dogs.  One was trained "zero fault" and the other was left in a puppy pen and allowed to toilet there inside the house because I couldn't give her the full attention she needed (I was caring for her seriously injured brother).  Tardis is my zero fault dog.  When he needs to go he will hold it for as long as he possibly can, he will tell me loudly and emphatically that he HAS to go and he's even started telling me when by other dog needs to go.  Because she's not above toileting inside when it becomes a little difficult to hold it or to wake me to take her out.  If I'm distracted, I might miss her signs of needing to go out (walking back and forth between the back of my chair and the back door).  But I'm not going to miss Tardis's sign of shoving his head in my lab and barking at full volume when I miss her more subtle request.

Are all zero fault dogs going to be as in your face as Tardis?  No.  There are many pieces that make up his personality and world view.  What I'm saying is that Tardis's strong desire not to have urine and feces in the house is a direct result of zero fault training.  And Ruby's much lower concern about waste product management is a direct result of her having practiced toileting indoors during toilet training.

A service dog is going to be put into situations where his ability and desire to hold it will be pushed to the limit.  He needs above pet level reliability.  He needs zero fault training.  And that requires the owner to make the commitment to keep their eyes on that puppy from the moment he enters the house until he is six months old and giving him no opportunity during that period to make a wrong choice in waste placement.  And when eyes cannot be kept on pup during that period, pup is secured in a crate and his schedule is managed such that he never experiences pressure to toilet beyond what his immature body can handle.  It means getting up in the middle of the night to toilet a very young puppy.  It means not letting them eat or drink late at night.  It means understanding that exercise stimulates bowel movements and scheduling accordingly.

It takes work.  Failure to put in the necessary work is no accident.  It is a choice.  So when pup toilets inside the house it is not an accident and it is not pup's fault.  It is a choice made by the human in charge of his toilet training not to give that training the priority it needs to be done well.  If the person chooses not to put in the required work they will have consequences for the life of the dog (assuming they don't give the dog up).  Four months of diligence and hard work or a lifetime of unreliability.  This is part of the cost of choosing to raise a puppy.  They are hard work and time consuming, just like a human infant.

If your dog has toileted inside you will have to work ten times harder to fix it than you would have needed to work to avoid the problem developing.  And toilet training will take longer.  By the time pup has toileted inside three times you've probably added a year of extra work on to toilet training before pup will be reliable and even then he will not be as truly reliable as a zero fault dog because in the back of his mind will be the attitude that sometimes it's okay to toilet indoors and it's not that big of a deal.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2016, 04:21:35 PM by Kirsten »
Kirsten and Tardis
In loving memory of Cole (1/11/99 - 6/26/12)  He gave me back my life.

"The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world -- the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous -- is his dog." -George G. Vest

Offline Kirsten

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Re: Potty Training Bells
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2016, 04:24:49 PM »
Note:  I NEVER punish a pup for toileting inside.  If he toilets inside it is 100% MY fault, not his.  My job is to prevent putting him into a position where he CAN toilet inside.  If he starts to consider it, I scoop him up and rush him outside to an appropriate location and praise him toileting in that appropriate location.  If anyone is to be punished for waste in the wrong place, it's me.  Pup doesn't know where waste belongs yet, not really.  He doesn't know where it belongs until he can demonstrate a strong desire to put it where it belongs without a mistake, without considering a mistake and even when there's some pressure to make the wrong choice without giving in and making that wrong choice.  Only then can he be said to understand toilet training and where waste goes.
Kirsten and Tardis
In loving memory of Cole (1/11/99 - 6/26/12)  He gave me back my life.

"The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world -- the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous -- is his dog." -George G. Vest