Dog owners understand that potty training their puppies is the most important skill they can ever impart to their new pets. Learning this skill is convenient, not just for the owners, but for their dogs, as well. The benefits for the pet owners go without saying. But for their pets, it gives them a schedule throughout the day when to expect to be let out, or, in some cases, they can be trained to actually inform their humans when they need to go out of the house.
Who’s Responsible for What?
As we mentioned in our previous post, our three kids talked us into adopting Mochi Thanksgiving Dinner of last year. And, as part of our agreement, they each agreed to shoulder the lion’s share of taking care of, and training, the new puppy. Either that or the dog goes!
Now, Mochi was two months old when we got him. We had nothing for our new pet. So that first night, his first bed was an old throw pillow stuffed inside an old crate. It would have to do. Besides, it was warm enough.
All the three children slept on the two sofas in the family room, keeping watch over their new pet. The puppy needed to be taken out regularly throughout the night, so each of the kids took turns taking him to the backyard, whether he needed to go or not. Now, how often, exactly, did they need to take him out? Well, apparently, there is a formula. One hour per month of age. Therefore, a two-month-old puppy should be taken out every two hours! Needless to say, no one was happy after the first couple of nights.
The kids devised a rotation schedule so that no one will be stuck with taking Mochi out on the same hours of the day. They came up with a daily calendar. They filled in their preferred shifts. And they posted this schedule on the refrigerator door!
They had to account for a few things, though. The two older girls exempted their younger brother from taking any of the graveyard shift. They all needed to find coverage if they are unable to fulfill their scheduled tasks due to school work, sports activities, conflicts with the girls’ work schedules, etc.
All these might sound too harsh. And despite the agreement, my wife and I did end up taking turns taking the dog out, too. It was, in the end, a true family effort. But the kids needed to learn responsibility. And ultimately, they knew that all this was temporary.
The intervals between each trip to the backyard grew longer as the dog aged. But it took all of four months for him to completely master the skill of not pooping or peeing in the house. (Well, almost. There were still accidents here and there, especially after he ate something that did not agree with his stomach. But that’s a topic for another post!)
The Potty Bell
Eventually, we needed to replace the timer with something better. Something that would actually allow Mochi to “tell” us “when” he needed to go out to the backyard. In came the Potty Bell.
Caldwell Pet Supply, Co. is one company that offers potty bells for sale online. I’ve attached some pictures of their potty bells so you have an idea what they look like.
The potty bell is just that, a bell that owners either attach to the door or hang from the doorknob. The idea is to get your pet to first, recognize it as a bell; second, that he can manipulate this bell; and third, each time he manipulates it, he gets a treat!
Now, in the beginning, the treat can be anything that you usually give them when they perform a task well, or as expected. Later on, when he masters the task, then his treat can actually be going outside. That now changes your pet’s understanding of what the bell is actually for. Once he starts to associate the ringing of the bell with “going outside,” then, it shouldn’t take long for him to connect that with letting you know when he needs to go outside to relieve himself.
Below is a link to Zak George’s video on how he trained his dog to use the potty bell. It’s less than 8 minutes long. We highly recommend you watch it.
Four Months Later
We did not get the potty bell right away. We were constantly watching videos on YouTube on how to properly house train and potty train our puppy when we finally stumbled upon the potty bell. We ordered it online. And when it arrived, we needed to familiarize Mochi with it. Then, the potty bell training began in earnest!
Surprisingly, it did not take a day to train Mochi on how to properly use the potty bell. We got the “original” model, which you can hang from any doorknob, as opposed to the “classic,” which you attach to the door frame. And while you can move the ball around, we kept ours hanging in one spot, which is the sliding door leading out to the backyard. This diminished the chances of confusing the dog.
The rest of the four months was spent conditioning our puppy to associate the outside with doing his business. The house was his living area and he should not spoil it by either pooping or peeing inside the home. And while there were still accidents during that lengthy training period, we are happy to report that as of today, the only time he has ever gone inside is when he’s eaten something that upset his stomach. And even that was a rare occurrence.