At Freedom Park summer 2010

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Ringing the bell.....

So how do you go about house training a puppy when you have never had to do that before?  The first suggestion is to get your puppy with some friends who are already house trained and can show him the ropes, so to speak.  After about 2 weeks at my daughter's house with her two dogs to help - we had a pretty good start on things.  He went out when they went out and he did what they did and then they all sniffed each others jobs and barked to come back in.  Loves and atta-boys were given all around.  This wasn't going to be too tough.

Now my daughter has her pit trained to ring the bell hanging on the door when she needs out.  I don't think Starskey paid a whole lot of attention to that part of the training because he was just too busy running and playing and sniffing and napping.  He just followed the routine that Pokey and Pilot had and fit his own to that.  Therefore it became a bit of a challenge when we got back home and had to do it on our own.

I had a string of Christmas bells hanging on the doorknob of the back door.  That way I knew when someone came and went from the house if I was busy doing something.  One day I heard the bells while I was working on the computer and looked up to see no one at my door but the tom cat.  I thought maybe the sound had come from the TV so I just went back to work.  Then I heard the bell again only louder - and still no one around but Midnight.  I shook my head and went back to work.

The damn bell would not stop ringing and it finally got to be more then I could continue to ignore.  I got up and walked over to the door to make sure it was closed and the wind wasn't making it move enough to ring the bells.  It was shut tight.  Midnight looked up at me and meowed so I leaned over and scratched his head then went back to my desk to go back to work again.  The damn bell rang again!

Now I know I have a ringing in one ear from a bonk on the head I got several years ago - but this was a bell and it wasn't in my head.  I stood by that door looking at those bells and dared them to ring again.  A slim black paw reached up and batted the bells then batted my hand.  Could that be it?  Was the cat ringing the bells?  The bells rang again and Midnight meowed and pawed my hand.  I reached out and turned the door knob and his nose was in the crack before I could even get it open.  I opened it up and out he went.........Okay - that was a lucky guess!!!

The bell rang many more times after that and each time the ring was followed by a meow or Midnight was patting me with his paw to pay attention to him.  Smart cat to train himself to ring a bell to get let out when he wanted out.  What was even smarter was that he began to knock on the window when he wanted back in.  Apparently I don't hear "Meow" very well through a closed window so he figured out another way to get my attention.

So now we come to my half trained puppy that I can't let run around outside all by himself all day and who needed a way to let me know when he needed to go outside if I got too busy to notice "the signs" in time to get him outside before an accident occured.  Hey - I have bells on my door and he just spent a couple of weeks with Pokey so surely he knows what the bell is for.......well almost.  Good thing there is no rug by the door because - well, we were both still learning.......

I began to set a timer and every hour I would take him to the door and try to get him to ring the bell.  He would watch me, cock his head and lift one ear and think "how kool" and just sit there.  After a few minutes of bell education I would just open up the door and take him outside.  I'd sit in the porch swing while he sniffed and rolled and wiggled and all those fun puppy things until he finally went potty.  Then we went back in the house and I set the timer again.  He chewed on his toys, scratched his tummy on the carpet and took a little nap.  The timer would go off and we would start bell ringing class again.........with pretty much the same results each time.

After a few days of this I began to notice that he would go sit by the door from time to time.  I took this to mean progress - Yeah!  He would go to the door and I would go to him and try to get him to ring the bell.  Still got the same puzzled look from him over the bell but when I gave up and just opened the door he bolted out and wasted less time getting his job done.  We were making progress after all......I think anyway.

Well that day does come when I am working on the computer typing up meeting minutes or something and I see Starskey go to the door.  He sits facing the door and turns his head to look in my direction.  Yes, sir Mr. Starskey - I do see you.  Please ring the bell if you want out so I don't have to stop in the middle of a sentance.....instead I hear a whimper.  I spring in to action and I go to the door and ring the bell and then open it for him.

By this time he has figured out that the door does not open unless that bell rings first.  Now that is major......really!  I go outside later to sit in the swing while he plays with his football and drags the branches out of the weeds and finds out that the grass along the edge of the pond has things that jump in it.  He is so funny to watch.  When he is sufficiently tired we go back in for his nap.

Later I see he is sitting by the door again.  I am in the middle of a really good article but I get up and go over to the door.  I pick up his paw and I touch the bells with it.  He looks at them and at me and just sits there.  I pick his paw up and touch the bells again and again he just looks at me and sits there.  Now along comes Midnight (still bigger then Starskey) who looks at both of us just standing there and he reaches out his paw and rings the bells.  I nod and open the door and let him out and close the door again.  Starskey just looks at me, then at the door and then at me like he can't believe I just did that and didn't let him go out too.  And then I heard the bell ring as he stretched out his neck and just barely touched the bells with his I smiled and opened up the door and let him out too.

Just goes to show you what kind of a dog trainer I am.......It took the blasted cat just one demonstration to teach him what I had spent a couple of weeks trying to do.  And it only took that one time because from then on the bell rang when it was time to go out for either of them.  I am just glad that Starskey did learn to bark to come back in.  His paws were sort of big to be knocking on my window!


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