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Hi all. I have potty training question. I know, I know, another one, but didn't see my question here, so maybe someone can help me. My puppy is 5 1/2 months old. He is a shelter puppy so I don't know the breed. However he is already 25 lbs so he's not a little guy. Since we brought him home at 10 weeks we have crated him at night, tried to take him out every hour, and taught him to use the bells on our door. Here's the problem: When I go to the door to take him out(we don't have a yard, so he actually goes out every time on a leash) he will run over and ring the bells. I praise him and take him out. If he goes outside he gets praise and a treat. The problem is if he needs to go in between the times I take him, he WILL NOT ring the bells. He just finds somewhere to go and goes. I am confused as to why he knows the bells mean go outside but will not ring them unless I'm standing by the door??!! He's getting to be big and the messes aren't so little anymore. I'm kind of at a loss as to what to do from here. He obviously gets the concept so how do I get him to quit going on the floor? Any help would be appreciated.
 

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I could be way off but it seems to me he's associating ringing the bell with getting treats outside and not potty. Does he ever ring the bell without you walking to the door first?
 

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How often is he going outside? It might be that you just need to take him out more often - being proactive and going to the door, instead of waiting for him to ring the bell. The more he goes potty indoors the harder it will be to break that pattern. So take him out a lot, and maybe even tether him to you while you're inside so you can always see what he's up to.
 

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I think he's done it once.
Seems like the pattern that you've set up hasn't taught your pup what you hoped. You seem to be a part of the bell equation which means that he doesn't know to ring the bell independent of your presence. Not sure how you fix that. I don't personally use a bell or other signal. I just gauge when Molly needs to go based on when she last went. When she was potty training, I kept a chart of her activities so I could see when she'd last gone, which helped to predict when she needed to go next. That might be helpful for you b/c it seems like you've got some remedial potty training to do. I'd start tracking his potty activities and not allow him to free range when you know he's due for a trip outside.
 

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I don't use a bell either, primarily because my dogs are tricksters, love performing, and, I am afraid that once they learned the bell they'd ring it all the time, just because.

A couple things to think about: I think 5 1/2 months is a bit young to totally rely on the puppy to let you know he needs to go out. Pups don't get full physical control of their bladders til 6 months of age, give or take, some a little earlier, some a little later. So, that would be one challenge. There may be times where he doesn't realize how bad he needs to go until it's too late. Or, there may be times when he thinks he can hold it longer than he can.

The second thought is, a lot of folks are surprised at how many adult dogs don't even let their owners know they need to go out. Some dogs don't make a sound. Some dogs might have a very subtle behavior. Lots of folks here simply take their dogs out on a schedule, regardless of whether the dog has asked for it.

One of my dogs will go stand in the middle of the kitchen when she needs to go out. If I am not in a place where I can see that, I may miss it. The other will come find me, and stare at me, and maybe prance a bit. That's all we ever get!
 

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The second thought is, a lot of folks are surprised at how many adult dogs don't even let their owners know they need to go out. Some dogs don't make a sound. Some dogs might have a very subtle behavior. Lots of folks here simply take their dogs out on a schedule, regardless of whether the dog has asked for it.

One of my dogs will go stand in the middle of the kitchen when she needs to go out. If I am not in a place where I can see that, I may miss it. The other will come find me, and stare at me, and maybe prance a bit. That's all we ever get!
This. I mainly take Hobbes out when it's been a few hours since the last time. If he needs to go out he might come and stare at me, but this staring at me behavior is also used for "I'm hungry," "Can I come up on the couch with you?," and "I"m bored; play with me!". So it can't be trusted.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yes, that's it with mine. Occasionally I will find him sitting at the top of the stairs that lead to our door. But like you said, if I'm not right there I will not know. That's why I decided to try the bells. That way even if he was out of sight I would hear it. I will definitely just try taking him on a schedule whether I think he needs to go or not. Maybe eventually he will start letting me know. Thanks so much for the answers guys. Never had this problem before.
 

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I think your issue comes from the very basic fact that dogs are highly attentive to visual cues. What this means is you've taught him that every time you stand by the door, he should ring the bell.

What you need to teach him is, when he rings the bell, you will come over to the door and open it. This is a different causation.
So, rather than "My parent stands by the door" --> "I should ring the bell" --> Then I get to go outside!

It should be, "If I ring the bell" --> "My parent will come by to open the door" --> Then I get to go outside!

Teaching a trick without incorporating visual cues into it (even unintended ones) is very difficult and tricky. My dog has learned by default that her spinning in circles means I will let her go outsdie. This was a natural cue for her, and one I ran with. Sometimes she uses it to go outside even if she doesn't have to pee, and that's ok too, but that's what you get when you attach a cue with housebreaking.

If I were you, I'd just set a schedule and routine everyday so your dog knows exactly when you let them out, and he will be able to hold it until then. A truly housebroken dog once they're past the puppy years should be able to hold it in all day, until they are geriatric or have some physical problems.
 

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This. I mainly take Hobbes out when it's been a few hours since the last time. If he needs to go out he might come and stare at me, but this staring at me behavior is also used for "I'm hungry," "Can I come up on the couch with you?," and "I"m bored; play with me!". So it can't be trusted.
I've never had a dog that had a cue specifically for "have to pee". Kabota stares when he wants anything, food, pets, potty, play, and Muggsy just liked to stare at me. Both of them will/would sniff at the front door, which sometimes seems to mean "gotta go", but also sometimes seemed to just be a general curiosity about how the door smells.

I just judge by how long it's been since the last walk and err on the side of caution.
 

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You may not have realized it but eating triggers a need to eliminate the bowels- is it some kind of reflex

So a walk shortly after dinner until the bowels are evacuated will keep some of the messes from happening
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Yes, I know about the walk after eating. I do that. Mainly I think what is going on is he is a silent signaler. I noticed him today sitting quietly at the top of the stairs. Our house is a split level, so the stairs lead to the front door. If I hadn't walked by I wouldn't have noticed. Anyway, took him out and he went. So I think I've got to keep my eyes on him more instead of my ears! LOL The comments about the dogs that don't have a cue really helped. I think he's one of those. Other dogs I've had have always run around in circles or sat at the door and whined, etc. so this was new to me. Hopefully I can notice his silent cues better now that I realize that's what's happening. Thanks everyone for all the help!
 

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I think he just can't be out of your line of site or grabbing distance until you can trust him not to go in the house (unless confined). Our puppy is also 5.5 m/o, and we've had him from 8 wks. We taught him the bells, and he would use them to go out when he needed to poo, or just wanted out of his gated area, but that was it. About a month ago something clicked in his brain/bladder and he started banging the cat scratcher against the back door when he needed to go out, and he hasn't had an accident since. Before that I think he just didn't know. One other thing we've done is every time we take him out we say "Do you need to go OUT?!" or some variation with emphasis on the "OUT" part. Now if you ask him and he DOES need to go, he'll run over to you or perk up and get excited. If he doesn't, he'll just look at you, then return to whatever he was doing.
 

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Probably your positioning near the door has become the cue to him to ring the bell. I'd try gradually increasing your distance from the situation when you are working on the doorbell. I would also keep a potty journal so you know his patterns and when he is likely to need to go out. Also close supervision in the house so you notice the first sniff and have time to get him outside. If you can get the dog on a schedule that works for him, the bell ringing becomes less important.
 
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