Things could have gone better this weekend in terms of potty training Cassidy. She had two accidents. Each of them occurred in the loft, when she was out of our sight. The reason for this: us. House training a dog means tirelessly watching it for the inevitable misdeed. Catching Cassidy in the act is important, because those teachable moments for dogs only occur in real time. If the reproach is a second too late, the dog won’t make the connection, and all the punishment in the world won’t deter a repeat of the offense. Correcting the chewing and pooping and garbage picking before they become habits means that when Cassidy is out of her crate we have to keep constant eyes on her.
We have since gated the stairs to the loft.
Why we train our dogs to ring a bell.
We first bought the got-to-go bell when Ripple was being house trained. We figured, if we did’t wanted her to pee in the house, we had to give her a way of telling us when she had to go out. We hung the bell on the door in our family room, even though we usually let her out through the laundry room door. The reason for this is that the family room is where we are most often. The bell should be placed where people are most likely to hear and respond to it as a signal. Ripple got the idea quickly and is now our model for teaching Cassidy.
The simple steps
- Whenever Ripple rings the bell, or right before we are about to take Cassidy out, we let Ripple out. (We do this before bringing Cassidy to the bell, because having Ripple present is too distracting.)
- Then we put a leash on Cassidy and walk her to the bell.
- We bring it to her nose, or push her paw against it until it dings.
- Then we praise her and take her outside.
We repeat this ritual before each time we take Cassidy out to do her business. Whenever Cassidy rings the bell on her own, which has happened quite a few times, although she does not always “go” when we bring her out, we respond quickly by praising her and bringing her straight to the door.
Next Friday: Old Dogs, Young Dogs (part 2)