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Housebreaking & bell training

DSC_6445 (by Jenn ?)

I am happy, excited and proud to announce that Leah is successfully housebroken. She has been for quite some time, but I didn’t want to “announce”, lest Murphy’s Law be kicked into action and send Leah into a regression of sorts. She’s actually been “mostly” housebroken since last winter, but we had an issue where if we go out and left her unattended, she would become rather anxious and urinate and/or defecate in the living room or in Alyssa’s bedroom, regardless of how recently she may have gone to the bathroom. We solved that issue by religiously crating her every single time we went out, no matter how short of a time we planned on being gone.

A few weeks ago I decided to “test” Leah, to see if four months of being crated every single time we left and knowing we’d be back to be with her had any effect on the anxiety issue. So when I’d run out to take the kids to preschool or pick them up from preschool–a fifteen minute or less round trip–I’d leave her out. And on four different occasions she did just fine. However, I’m not going to risk playing with fire, so we do crate her whenever we go out. :)

Housebreaking really wasn’t all that difficult. Leah was almost four months old when I purchased her, and we started crating her at night right away. I pad-trained her in the kitchen using disposable (and later washable) pads sprayed with puppy pottytraining “aid” spray. We also put her outside several times a day, though I admit to being lazy and using pads most of the time in the winter when it was cold, wet and raw. But by spring, she was out almost all of the time, and by June, the pads were removed entirely.

Here’s how our daily “potty” schedule looks:
8:00am (or as soon as I get up): out
8:30am: food
11:00am: out
3:00pm: out
7:00pm: out
8:00pm: food
10:00pm: out

She also goes out whenever the kids and I are outside, and if she seems “antsy”.

Anyway, I now want to work on bell training Leah. I love the idea of her “alerting” us to the fact that she needs to go. It could be quite handy, if we lose track of time or she just needs to go urgently. Instead of buying some overpriced “dog” bell, I picked up a large bird bell for $2.99 at PetSmart, and Dan nailed it to the frame surrounding the back door. We’ve been taking her paw and ringing the bell every time we go out, and telling her “potty” and then rewarding her with a treat when we bring her back in. I’m not sure if things have connected yet, because Leah has yet to ring the bell on her own, but I’m sure it’ll happen one of these days! In the meantime I’ll continue to burn fat by running in and out with her multiple times a day, since I’m not quite sure as to how often she really needs to go. But for us/her, every 3-4 hours seems to work in terms of making sure that she’s out when she needs to go! :)

Have any of you bell-trained your dog? How long did it take?

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