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Teaching Your Dog to Ask to Go Out

(continued)

How to Teach Your Dog to Ring a Bell to Go Out

Step One: Teaching Your Dog to Touch the Bell with Her Nose

Purchase a dog door bell or make your own with a couple of sleigh bells from a crafts supply store. Attach some kind of sturdy string to the bells. (You’ll use the string later to hang the bells on a door knob or on a hook next to your door.) Before starting your first training session, cut a number of tasty treats that your dog loves into raisin-sized pieces. You can use soft dog treats, chicken, hot dogs, croutons or cheese.

  1. Say “Touch” and present the bells to your dog. Hold them just an inch or two away from her nose. She’ll probably move toward the bells to sniff them. (If she doesn’t, you can rub a treat on the bells to make them a little more interesting.)
  2. The moment your dog’s nose touches the bells, say “YES!” and immediately give her a treat. Your timing of the “YES!” is important. Your dog needs to know she’s doing the right thing the instant she touches the bells with her nose. (If you use a clicker to train your dog, you can click instead of saying “YES!”) Repeat 10 to 15 times or until your dog readily touches the bells with her nose. (If you use a clicker to train your dog, you can click instead of saying “YES!” To learn more about this kind of training, please see Clicker Training Your Pet.)
  3. When your dog confidently pokes the bells with her nose as soon as you present them an inch or two in front of her, start to present the bells a little further away or off to the side each time you say “Touch.” Your dog will have to turn her head or take a few steps to touch the bells.

Spend three to five days practicing the exercise above, aiming for at least one practice session per day. Then you’re ready for Step Two.

Step Two: Teaching Your Dog to Ring the Bell on the Door

Use the string connected to the bells to hang them on your doorknob or on a hook next to your door. Get your treats ready and call your dog over to the door.

  1. Take the bells in your hand (with them still hanging on the knob), say “Touch,” and hold them out toward your dog.
  2. Right when your dog’s nose touches the bells, say “YES!” and then deliver a treat.
  3. Repeat 5 to 10 times or until your dog readily touches the bells as soon as you say ”Touch.”

After a short break from the above three steps, do the exercise again, but this time just point to the bells instead of holding them

  1. Say “Touch,” and point to the bells.
  2. As soon as your dog touches the bells with her nose, say “YES!” and give her a treat. If your dog doesn’t touch the bells, you might need to practice the first three steps of Step Two for a while longer. Repeat the exercise as described above, holding the bells in your hand when you ask your dog to touch them. After practicing for a couple of days, try just pointing to the bells again.
  3. Repeat the exercise 5 to 10 times.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist

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