ClickerSolutions Training Articles


Housebreaking Tips

6AM Waking


Teaching puppies to ring a bell to tell you they need to go outsideI use a "sleigh bell" type bell that I purchased at a craft store. It's about 1 1/2" in diameter. I attached it to a length of cord and hung it from the doorknob of the door we use most often to go out to potty at about the pup's nose height. Each time we went to the door, I would jingle the bell and say "outside, go potty", then open the door. After about a week of that then I waited a moment after we got
to the door. If nothing happened within 5-10 seconds I repeated the procedure. Within a few days the pups all seemed to be interested in the bell and make some motion toward it. I rewarded them with praise and quickly opened the door. By the end of the second week I just stood at the door and waited :-) They knew the routine that went with going out so when I didn't ring it, they did. Lots of praise and quickly open the door.

The big "leap" came when I'd taken my eyes off them and they went to the door and rang the bell without me. I quickly went and opened the door.

Now some people questioned whether bell ringing and getting me to "jump" would become a fun dog game. I found that in time I didn't respond to "fake" rings so they didn't play that game much. As they got older there were times when one would ring but I was busy. If he really needed to go, he would keep ringing until I came. Otherwise he'd go do something else for a bit.

There are also some commercially available "door bells" that the dog hits with a paw to make it chime. These might be more suited to use on the outside of the door for when the dog wants back in. I tend to favor staying by the door during potty training to let them back in as soon as they are finished. It short-circuits some of the other behaviors that are likely to develop (jumping on the door, barking, scratching). If the pup tried any of these undesirable behaviors, I
would walk away from the door and wait until they were quiet before returning and letting them in. I've always had a window in or near the door so I could observe them. Dogs are *very* good at training us. So don't reward (by attending to) and behaviors you dislike. If
they bark and you open the door, you are teaching them that barking gets the door to open :-)


Housebreaking Tips

Hint - think "often" - as in, take your puppy outside often. It helps if you can have a schedule and adhere to it pretty closely every day (puppy bladders don't understand weekends!) Try something like this for your puppy:

6:00am remove puppy from bedroom crate, carry outside for potty, Lots of praise.

Return inside, feed breakfast, puppy gets to play (supervised) in kitchen (baby gates keep him there) until 6:30, then potty break for 5 minutes (again, lots of praise) and returned to crate.

8:00a.m remove puppy from crate, carry outside for potty, Lots of praise. Return inside, puppy gets to play (supervised) in kitchen (baby gates keep him there) until 10:30am, then potty break for 5 minutes (again, lots of praise) and put in family room crate until the afternoon.

12:30pm remove puppy from crate, carry outside for potty, Lots of praise. Return inside, feed lunch, puppy gets to play in kitchen (baby gates keep him there) until 1:30pm, then potty break for 5 minutes (again, lots of praise) and a short play time in yard, with potty praise of course! Play time continues in the family room or yard - lots of rowdy play, with a potty break after 20 minutes (PRAISE!!!!!!) and then more play and potty and praise again.

Then back to the crate around 4:30pm for naptime.

5:30pm remove puppy from crate, carry outside for potty, Lots of praise. Return inside, puppy gets to hang out in the kitchen while dinner is prepared. 6:30pm puppy gets dinner, then carry outside for potty, Lots of praise. Return to kitchen for hanging out (supervised) while dishes get done etc., then more play time! After 20 minutes of playing take puppy outside for potty (and praise!) Then, puppy gets evening play time - outside if possible so that IF he goes potty praise can be spontaneously given. If he starts to go potty and it is not in his spot, you say, "No!" then quickly pick him up (do not wait for him to finish) and take him to his spot and say, "Now Go Potty!" after he does, give him lots and lots of praise.

Puppy gets to spend most of the evening "loose" yet supervised - trips outside are frequent!
9:00pm Outside to potty and lots of praise again, then back inside and "loose" but supervised.

11:30pm - final trip outside, then puppy is put in crate (in our bedroom) and collapses into
a deep sleep!!

Use TONS of praise (imagine seeing yourself in your pjs jumping up and down and clapping at
6:00 a.m.) when puppy goes potty outside. There still may be an occasional accident, if so,
just scoop him up, said "no!, bad!" and carry him outside and stay there until he/she goes potty again so you can praise him. By the time a week had passed, mine should just go to the door and wait to be allowed out. Or maybe he will scratch it - and wait for someone to notice.

One thing that supposedly helps is to always use the same door, and always take him to the
same spot/area when you set them down. I also know people that attach puppy to their waist
with a leash to keep track when they're loose in the house. I prefer the baby gate method,
but both work.

My husband's favorite saying about housebreaking a puppy is "Eternal vigilance is the key"
and I believe he's absolutely right - develop a schedule, pay attention and keep track of
puppy and usually it's not a big deal. We we'll be lucky if neither of ours messes in their
crates - this is true for about 95% of puppies.

The only downside to this method that by the time the pup is grown, he'll probably still be
up at 6:00am, in your bed, there, nose in your face, with the "well, it's time to eat" look!


6AM Waking

From: "Heidi Holmetoft Hansen" <heidi@m...>
Date: Mon Apr 29, 2002 12:34 am
Subject: Re: [CS] help needed at 6 a.m.

Well, her behavior, unwanted as it maybe, IS reinforced. :)
First, she gets attention. Then she gets even more attention, pee pee trip to the yard, breakfast and so on.

There are several ways to do this (I am currently going through the same with a 4 months old pup, though I haven't been getting up, my boyfriend got into a bad habit of asking him to "please shut the F up". Again...attention!) and it is slowly getting better.

What I do is NOT give him any attention when he howls. I just lay there all-quiet with my eyes closed, pretending to still be sound at sleep.

Then I wait until he is quiet for a few seconds, which eventually he has to be to take in air for the next wolfy howl. Then I click him and toss him a treat (yes, I have a small bag of dried
liver underneath my pillow) and so on. Slowly I raise the criteria for my clicking.
1 be quiet
2 be quiet and stand still
3 be quiet and lay down
4 be quiet and lay down on his blanket
5 be quiet and lay down on his blanket for longer and longer periods

I make sure to not talk to him in or pet him at all at this time in the morning. When I do finally get up, I make sure to say properly good morning, by calling him to talking and petting, me handing him treats. Then we go into the yard, sniff around, maybe pee a little, then he gets his
breakfast tossed on the grass for him to search for. I decide when all this is to happen, though.
I have a signal "Time to get up" that I use to tell him NOW it is ok for you to howl and rub yourself against me. NOW the day and all the fun begins.

At the moment, we've come to a point where he doesn't even care to get up and howl at 5 am EVERY morning. Now he actually sleeps till 7:30 am. So I have set my alarm to go off around 7:15. This way I can get wake up in time to give him the "Time to get up" signal right before he starts to stir himself.

Hope this helps a bit.




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