So Nemo has been a dream when it comes to house training. We have only had a handful of accidents and they were all because I was slow reading the signs. 

In my own defense his signs can be a little vague. Usually he sits in front of the door and sometimes he will bark. But he also likes to sit in front of the door even if he doesn't have to go out, particularly at night when he can watch the bugs. 

To help make his signals more obvious, we hung a cow bell on the door knob. After we hung the bell, the next time we went outside I rang the bell before I attached his leash. The next time he had to pee he went over and nosed it himself. We were so excited that he had figured out the bell so quickly. Point goes to me. 

The bell worked great for about two days and then it clicked in his head that "hey if I ring the bell I get to go out, even if I don't have to pee." After the 5th trip out in a 15 minute period I knew I had created a monster and would have to modify the training. Point goes to Nemo.

The downside to the bell is that in order for it to work, I have to always put him out, even if I know he doesn't have to go. If he doesn't trust that it works, he won't use it anymore. So the training modification has to get him to understand that it only works for potty time and not play time.

Training Modification Attempt 1: Every time he rang the bell, I would immediately take him out, directly to his pee spot, I would stand and not move. No wondering, no playing, no sticks. If he didn't go within a minute or so I would take him back in. After about 20 iterations in about 30 minutes, his patience won out over mine. He seemed quite content to just sit there and stare at me. Point goes to Nemo.

Training Modification Attempt 2: We set up a run at the back door. Every time he rings the bell, I attach him the the run and leave him to his business. He seems to dislike being alone so he will pees quickly and chases me back into the house within minutes of putting him out. This has greatly reduced the bell ringing in the house while still getting him to use it. 

Another key to this technique is that I initiate all outdoor playtime. The only way he will get to go outside to play is if I call him over. 

Hopefully this will stick. The point of failure with this technique is that it requires that he dislike peeing in the house more than being left outside alone. If he decides he would rather pee inside than go out alone, we will have to try something different. But for now, point goes to me. 


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Comment by Linda on August 14, 2013 at 4:03pm really think you are going to out-smart a corgi?  Hahahahahahaha


I hope it all works.

Comment by Sarah Weippert on August 14, 2013 at 1:26pm

He is pretty much potty trained. He goes a full 8 hours over night. He also hates going going inside. The one accident he had that I didn't catch mid stream, I walked out of the bathroom to find a puddle next to the door and Nemo whimpering next to it, looking up at me with big sad eyes. So we had the outside rewarding thing down before we added the bell. I just hope the run doesn't cause him to revert.

Comment by SJK on August 14, 2013 at 12:52pm

I can relate... When my last dog was a puppy he was scratching the door so we used a bell right away. It saved the door, but was probably a mistake because it caused the wrong association in his mind which was hard to retrain.

One way I know now to avoid this at the start is to make the peeing outside behavior more rewarding than the simple act of going outside, and then introducing the bell later once they've mastered holding their bladders. Then you know they will hold it if you don't respond to them on demand - instead of rushing to let them out each time they ring it so they don't pee on the floor, which must be very amusing for them. The first thing you tried would help with making the potty behavior more rewarding than the outside, but you've already introduced the bell... so humm.

The run thing will probably work for going outside needlessly. My samoyed would ring the bell and then expect me to come outside and play. The reinforcer for him was ME being out there playing with him, chasing him or whatever. He would even tempt me by play bowing and throwing toys at me. Obviously can't oblige him in the middle of the night so I started just letting him out alone, like you are doing. It turned him into this dog:

Sometimes he would pee, sometimes he just wanted me to follow him. To him the bell was to open the door, not to signal he had to pee... which is the intention of the bell. Subtle difference.

We did eventually work out a system but I don't have any specific advice. It became much easier when he was house trained and knew the word "potty" meant elimination time. When he would rather hold his bladder than go on the floor it was SUPER easy to tell when he was serious. He would ring the heck out of those bells, pace and whine. He knew I wasn't going to go out with him all the time so he only wanted to go outside if he had to go (or if there was a rabbit or wild turkey...).

If he was just bored he would nudge them half-halfheartedly, or nudge the broom that was next to the door... lol. I'm going to do it differently with my next dog.

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