Thursday, August 2, 2012

Training Case Study: Brie the Boston

Name:  Brie
Age:  2yrs
Breed:  Boston Terrier
Background:  Brie has done several board and trains in a kennel when her family goes on vacation.  She knows basic commands, does well off leash, and gets along with other dogs in a feisty terrier way.  However, she has never been fully house trained.  After 2 years, her family decided that Brie needed to train in a home setting rather than at a kennel.  They want her to ring a bell when she has to go potty so that they know when to let her out.

The Problem:

We have just hit the 1 week mark here at the training house.  Brie has not had a single accident in the house in 4 days.  She goes to the bathroom as soon as she gets outside.  However, the bell is still a bit of a mystery to her.  She likes to ring the bell when it is on the ground or hanging in front of her to get a treat, but still plays dead half the time I ask her to ring it. 

Also, Brie does not enjoy going outside.  She would rather stay inside and pee on the carpet than initiate a trip outside.  It doesn't help that it has been raining most days, which makes her even less enthusiastic about the idea. 

The Solution:

What do you think?  I have a plan for how to get Brie ringing the bell on her own, but I was curious what the wide world of dog folks thinks.  Any tips, tricks, or training plans you'd use to accomplish this goal?  I'd love to hear them!  In a few days I'll post what I did and how things are going for Brie.  Until then, thanks for helping!


  1. When I taught Elli to ring the bell to go outside, I never used food. Elli loved going outside and playing, so it wasn't difficult. Since Brie doesn't enjoy going outside, I'd suggest some foundation work before you even introduce the bell.

    Teach a Go Potty cue. C/T for correct response. Consider a puppy potty party! Be overexuberant.
    Introduce the bell (nose-target) *when you know she has to go potty* - ie, am, lunch, pm, whatever her schedule is. Cue the Go Potty, C/T for correct response.

    No food is associated with the bell-ringing. Food is associated with the chain of ring bell > "Go Potty cue" > Elimination > C/T.

    If dog still doesn't enjoy going outside, cue the bell, open door, click/treat. repeat. bell, open door, click/treat. bell, open door, step outside, c/t outside. repeat several times. bell, open door, go potty, elimination, c/t. repeat last sequence several times.

  2. We learned to ring a bell to go outside. It took 10 minutes. Brie tell mom to hang the bell by the front door. She touches your face to it, rings it and says pee pee outside and takes you immediately out. Do that 67 times then you get it. I ALSO ring it for dinner, snacks or if I want to go for a car ride
    Benny & Lily

  3. Well I have no idea how to help you make the connection between having to go out and ringing the bell. But I'm awaiting your next post with anticipation. I have a foster who doesn't tell us she has to go out.

    BTW, I've just passed the Versatile Blogger award to you. You can pick it up here:

  4. We taught Sampson (our Golden Lab) to ring the bell in this manner. We hung the bell by the door we used when going out. Each and every time we walked thru that door we rang that bell. Eventually he began ringing the bell, first by hitting it with his paw when he was smaller and could not reach and eventually with his nose when he got larger. We also treated every time he went potty outside so he was motivated to get thru that door. :-)

  5. I wish we could house break Big Carl

    Stop on by for a visit

  6. I have nothing to offer in the way of advice but can I still gush how cute she is???

  7. I was going to say the same thing as Emily.

  8. No help here, but I do understand a dog that doesn't like to potty outside. Dexter was sneaking upstairs to our storage room (unbeknownst to me until after several days) to do his business. Even at 4 1/2 years old he would still prefer to hold it until he is ready to explode rather than do his business in the yard.

    I actually had the idea of the bell, but given Mango's tendency to want to go out, come in, go out, come in I figured he would quickly learn to abuse it.

    Can't wait to see how you sort things out.

    Mango Momma

  9. I tried the bell thing with my pup but he would much rather just ringing the crap out of it by playing with it. He still just runs back and forth between us and the door. He also loves to go outside and play so he sometimes doesn't even have to go and is freaking out, its rather hard to tell if he really has to go or not.


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