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Discussion Starter #1
This is my first pup (just so you know)

Unlike many behaviors, house training is foggy. It isn't a discrete response.

Unlike "sit" or "down", "don't pee in my house" is the absence of a behavior and you can't easily demonstrate the absence of a behavior.

I'm doing the super-tight construction of a schedule such that house soiling is nearly impossible.

This routine is essentially a prophylactic in nature, though. With this routine, there is very little opportunity to soil in the house even if the dog WANTED to do it. That she seems to have been perfect over the past two weeks is a self-delusion.

It's like saying that I am 100% perfect at not-flying-helicopters, but then again, I do not have access to helicopters.

At this point, if she pees outside, I give her 45 minutes of freedom in the house from that moment (I actually set a timer) with light supervision.

When the timer "dings!", I have two options: a) in the crate or b) hard core supervision.

When we get close to two hours of freedom, I begin to worry about the increased probability of house soiling.... so she either goes outside for a chance to pee (and she often doesn't "go" when out there) and/or she definitely goes back into the crate with a treat toy.

No freedom until she pees again.

This is all well and good, but it's curious: how to know when she is honestly house trained. That is: How does one know when the dog honestly and deliberately avoids soiling inside the house?

I have heard some suggest that the dog be given a bell or other trained signal to go out. Others say that this "signal" runs the risk of being abused.

A signal would, at least, give some indication that the dog has a preference for going outside.

Having only had grown dogs in the past, and having never used a crate... and having never needed to address house soiling, it is an odd thing for me to conceptualize behaviorally.

As I have said in the past, it seems to me that this conditioning has more to do with us (the owners) attempting to support and encourage an already existing "instinct". Some dogs, it seems, have a more acute, ingrained instinct to soil well away from the home-base than others.

I have noticed that, when off leash, some dogs rush off... well away from where they are standing with their owners.... to "go". This, to me, indicates that this dog has a strong instinct to put their nasty stuff well away from the home base.

Other dogs casually step just a little bit away from their owners to "go". These dogs, while having that instinct, just don't have the need to put the stuff so far away from home. This dog is probably more difficult to house break.
 

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How old is your pup? You can't expect much until 6 months because they physiologically don't have the ability to control their bladder/bowels reliably until that age. After that, just increase the time between potty breaks and see what happens. Housebreaking doesn't mean the dog will never go in the house, just that they won't do it unless they are sick or are left inside for far too long, which can be 8 hours for some dogs and 18 for others. (Not recommending waiting 18 hours just to see, mind you.)

I'm not sure how much instinct dogs have towards going outside. Probably none, considering how many posts we get about dogs going inside the home.
 

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I agree with Amaryllis. Until the puppy's body is fully mature, they are just not capable of being able to hold it in (try as they may). I think it's great that you have a very strict schedule with your pup, the best method is prevention. The more the puppy is taken outside, succesfully goes outside, and is praised lavishly for going outside, the more the behavior is enforced. The only way to find out how far along your puppy is with housebreaking is to extend the time between potty breaks and see if the puppy holds it in. Granted, accidents may happen, nobody is perfect, but it doesn't mean the dog is going to aways potty inside. It just would mean the puppy is not ready to hold it in for that long so needs to be taken out sooner, and/or just needs more supervision. If you want to play it on the safe size, just increase the time a little bit every week or so as the puppy gets older. No problem with that either :D As for a signal, the dog will find a way to let you know it needs to go outside as it learns "outside is where potty happens." Sometimes it's really subtle, like acting uneasy and not wanting to play. If you want a more obvious signal, you have to train it (though some dogs find a way).
 

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I don't think the bell signal thing is a good idea. It's questionable whether dogs can actually connect the bell with "I need to pee" or if he's simply doing it because it gets good things to happen, such as going outside and then he happens to pee when he's outside.
 

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I agree that the bell signal causes more trouble than it's worth. It's very hard to train the dog to know that the bell=potty break, not bell=fun outside time. That is kind of a fine distinction to be making, if you think about it!

I also disagree that having a dog that runs away from the owner off-leash to pee is a good thing, only because it's REALLY a good idea to have a dog that's willing to go to the bathroom on leash. I actually think many times this behavior comes from the traditional "rub their nose in it" sort of housebreaking, and the dog is actually afraid to do their business in front of people for fear of being punished. I say this as the city-dwelling, no-yard-having owner of a dog who came from the shelter "reverse housebroken" and totally unwilling to pee on leash or near people. That was very inconvenient, and sometimes still is.

As for how you know when your dog is housebroken? The only way is to slowly increase the freedom and see what happens.
 

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1. After a pup is about 6 mos, you should understand the signals that indicate, need to go potty. One goal of house training is that the pup learns that the entire house is a no-potty zone. Dogs like to stay clean, and the pup will want to go outside. Normally the pup will stiff before dump; ideally, the pup will look at you (and maybe look at the door, if you pay close attention), and may whine or bark to go out. An adult will hold it - which isn't good for the dog, but a pup will eventually have an accident in the house if you don't see the signals.
2. Therefore, when the pup indicates to you that he wants to go out, then he is learning. After about 6 mos or so, you can start to trust him. All dogs are different. Some dogs learn very early, some dogs have accidents as adults, most dogs will potty outside, but vomit inside. I was lucky b/c my dog vomits outside, also. We have an understanding - if he whines, I stop what I'm doing to let him out.... no accidents.
3. I like the Xmas bell on the back door method. Normally, it's not a big deal to let the dog outside, if he 'abuses' the privilege. If it is a problem - no fenced back yard - then you can fine-tune the signal, accepting a few potential accidents as he learns... "Ring in case of potty, only" Note, according to Ian Dunbar, a dog will pee within 30 seconds of going outside, if needed... you can use that rule of thumb to help with re-training.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I didn't know the 30 second rule.

My vet said that sometimes puppies sometimes forget to pee outside... being so mesmerized by being outside.

I came home today after being out for 4.5 hours, and the pup still took 5 minutes of strolling around before deciding to take a leisurely pee.
 

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Thirty seconds is a good rule, but, with young puppies, it isn't always the case. It could be 30 seconds, it could be 2 minutes, it could be 5. But, any longer than that, and the need to go wasn't urgent, and there is usually some general exploring going on. Sometimes, as your vet said, they do get distracted by all the cool sounds, sights, smells, etc. outside. So, I always advise people to take their pup out for just a few minutes, using the same potty words every time. If they don't go, take them back in, keep your eyes on them even more so than normal, and try again in 5 minutes. So, it's basically a waiting game, out to try, if nothing, in for 5 minutes, then out to try again.

The reason I recommend this is, after a few minutes, the pup has probably lost focus, and may not be thinking about the need to pee anymore. If you take them back in, they may try to pee as soon as they get inside, kind of like "oh, wait! I needed to pee!" If you are watching them, when you bring them back in, you can see that they're about to go, and can rush them back out.
So, bringing them back in for a few minutes before trying again, gives you the chance to re-focus them, and try again.

As far as whether or not a pup is really potty trained; you're right, if you aren't giving her the chance to have an accident, it's hard to know if she's potty trained or if you're just really good at preventing accidents! :) But, think about this: every time you PREVENT an accident, and don't allow accidents by being vigilant about taking her out, and supervising her, you are enforcing that there IS a place to go potty where she does get praise and treats. AND, by not allowing potty inside, it does start to plant that seed that maybe outside is the only choice, because you're taking away all her other choices.
 

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you can train it. Teach the dog that the bell means potty only. Not difficult. Did it with my "to smart for my own good" dog. You just have to have a plan for when they Do abuse the bell, because they will. When my dog abused the bell I would go though all the same motions; ie bell rings, dog gets leashed, we go to potty spot for 30 seconds, no pee then crate for 20 minutes. Out of the crate to potty spot on leash and try again. if no pee then back in crate fro another 20 min. Once the adult dog has peed/pooped then she gets to run and play in the yard and freedom inside the house. But the little puppy I have is just learning the bell. So when he hits the bell I do the same asa above. Leash, go to the potty spot, when he potties I give a treats and play in the yard. No potty then back inside to the crate. wait a little and try again. My pup is 16 weeks and not trustworthy in the house. So he's tethered or crated or watched like a hawk.
 

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My puppy is 7 months old and I believe she is potty trained. Only three accidents or so since we brought her home at 8 weeks. I was dilligent about taking her out every hour at least. I made a big deal when she went potty and she got a piece of dried liver. I took her out of her sleeping crate during the night just once for the first three nights. Then I got lazy and decided to see if she would wake me to take her out. She never did and has slept through the night since. I did teach her to ring the bell and yes, sometimes she abuses it but I figure a few false alarms are very worth the fact she is not doing her business in the house.
 

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My pup is 5 months + 1 week just abouts. For the past three weeks he's been indicating that he needs to go out by banging on the back door, or barking at the back door, and he hasn't had a single accident (dribbling because we aren't getting out the door fast enough notwithstanding). It's been really, really nice that all of a sudden he seems to realize that he needs to go out, and what he needs to do to make that happen. I still don't think I'll consider him housebroken for several more months accident free!!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I'm using a protocol that so preemptively "empties" the pup, that she doesn't have a chance at signalling her need to go.

Yes, I would certainly tolerate some false alarms if barking or bell ringing was set up.

I'm never responding to a bark, though. That's the rule around here. I have pegged this dog as a potential "Nuisance barker", so I have asked my girlfriend to go along with this plan of non-response to barks or whines. So if the dog complains or barks we either do not respond or even walk away.

That bad news, is that this may result in a dog that doesn't bark to go out. (And in a way, I'd be very happy to know that our non-response technique has truly resulted in the successful avoidance of a nuisance bark problem!)
 
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