How did you get through potty training and what did you do? To be honest, with Pierogi, we were lost at first. I grew up with a cool cat named Oliver and although Mike grew up with two Jack Russell Terriers, it had been awhile. So, we had no idea where to start with our first fur kid. Luckily, we were surrounded by people who wanted to help. Our friends who had recently rescued a spunky terrier mix puppy already had some skin in the game and offered a few tips, our favorite dog store shared advice, and the families in our puppy class were in the same boat and we were all eager to swap information.
But one trick that was never mentioned was a potty bell! After Pierogi had maintained some serious progress, Mike and I began to back off and mistakenly thought that our jobs were nearly complete. The puddles in the hallway told us otherwise! But after that point, those puddles were more rightly our fault than Pierogi's. He grasped that the great outdoors was where we preferred that he do his business, but he had no way of signaling when he needed to go out and we were missing his cues.
Ring-a-ling-ding! Enter the potty bell. Every pup is different, but potty bells are an easy idea to try out. Many pet and online craft shops sell them, but you can also string together your own set. All you need are a bag of medium size bells and thin ribbon or string from a craft store. Initially, I tried out a few different bell layouts, but I found that the maximum noise comes from them being simply strung on like beads - with nothing else added to interfere or muffle the noise.
Then comes potty bell training. To help Pierogi latch onto and welcome the idea, we introduced the bells with positive reinforcement. That means providing plenty of treats when your dog goes anywhere near the bells, when they get close to the bells, when they sniff the bells and definitely, when they nose or paw the bells! To connect the action of going to the bathroom with the bells, we sounded the bells and simulatenously mentioned Pierogi's potty keyword ("Go potty"), every single time, before we walked out. At first, we held Pierogi while ringing the bells. Eventually, we worked up to gently motioning Pierogi's paws at the bells and then one day, he rang those bells like a seasoned bell-ringer and we were so proud! Now, we're working up to this with Gilfoyle. Cross your paws!
Here's Gill asking if he could clean off my camera lense... So sweet!
A few other tips:
- Don't play with the bells! If you've ever tried out clicker training in a training class, your instructor might have requested that you click your heart out and get the temptation of clicking out before getting serious. Otherwise, ringing the bell randomly could confuse your pup.
- Start with one set of bells and hang it on the door that you would most frequently exit through. If you have multiple exits, don't hang the bells in one area, but then walk out through another.
- Be patient! :) It took Pierogi a few days to warm up to the bells and the noise that they make and another few weeks before he was ringing the bells himself.
- Customize the look of the bells. Make it lower profile by matching the color of the string to your door or embrace color and make a fun statement.
Do you rely on bells in your home?
Woof! (Hey, there!) Pierogi, Gilly and Sarah here. Thanks for stopping by our dog blog. We're a little dog-obsessed around here and Pierogi & Co. is all about inspiring you to enjoy the dog days. Because life's more fun with your best (furry) friend by your side. So grab a bone and follow along as we stop to sniff the flowers...