Thursday, August 9, 2012

Training Case Study, Part 2

In my last post, I introduced Brie; a Boston Terrier who preferred to go potty in the house instead of outside.  During her 2 week stay with me, I was supposed to teach her to ring a bell when she wanted to go outside.

Sounds easy, right?

The hiccup in the plan was that Brie isn't a fan of the great outdoors (unless she's playing with other dogs).  I had to convince her that she wanted to go outside when she had to pee.

You guys had some great suggestions about what you would do.  Actually, most of your pups are better at connecting the dots than Brie and went with a 'Monkey see, Monkey do' approach.  That was how I started:  Brie knows to give paw on command, so I lured her into pawing the bell to get a treat.

Ximena was almost spot on with her idea- start at the end and work our way to the bell.  Brie is clicker-savvy, so I had already been clicking and treating for potty business.  By my post she was reliably responding to 'go potty,' so we just needed to get from there to the bell.

So I hit her where it hurt- right in the food bowl.  At meal time, Brie watched from behind a baby gate as I put her bowl outside and shut the door.  Then I took away the gate and went into the other room.  Well, let's just say that motivated her just fine.  She quickly learned to ring the bell to get to her food.  We also played this game with treats- she saw me throw a treat outside, then I'd leave.  If she rang the bell loud enough, she got to go find the treat.

Then we needed to bridge the gap.

Our routine over the last week had to transition from an ideal potty training routine to normal life at Brie's house.  That meant fewer trips outside, less exercise, and more time alone.  It also meant waiting for the bell before letting Brie out.  It was a little rocky the first two days, but Brie didn't have any accidents.  She was still unreliable about the bell, instead she decided to hold it until her next outing.  Brie continued to improve, but wasn't as bell-happy as I was hoping by the time she went home.  Luckily, this is a routine that her family is happy to maintain- it beats cleaning the rug every day!

Thanks for your input guys- I'll be posting other training case studies in the future to bounce ideas around the blogosphere. 

Tune in next time to hear what Skye did to herself this time!


  1. Great solutions...good job!


  2. We are shipping you my Lily cause she screams at other furry kids. She is great with the bell
    Benny & Lily

  3. It sounds like a great plan, I hope Brie's parents have no problems keeping her on task.

  4. Can we send you Big Carl to teach him?

    Stop on by for a visit

  5. Putting the food bowl outside to get her to ring the bell is genius! Rufus figured out ringing the bell to go potty within 24 hours - it took Turk months to get the hang of it! But once he did, Turk would ring the crap outta that bell! We ended up having to take it off the front door because Turk would wake the neighbors banging it at 3 am when he needed to pee!

  6. YAYish. I love backchaining. :) That's the thing with board and train... sometimes it's just not enough time to really reach the goal you set. Potty training is a tough one, too... because you can only do so many repetitions. Ah, c'est la vie. I'm glad my suggestion helped. :)

  7. Very clever. I was really wondering how you'd connect the dots. I hope you can post a follow up from her family.


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