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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all! I am new here, and just decided to join in the search for solving our dog's one and only issue. We got her at 4-5 months, and she is now about 9-10 months, a chihuahua mix of sorts. Potty training took several months, but she rarely pees inside anymore, and she has always been good at holding it for far longer than expected when we are sleeping or she is in the crate. However, the one area that we continually have trouble in is teaching her to actually let us know when she needs to poop.

She never barks, which is great. However, that also means she never makes a sound when she needs to go out. Typically, she will go into another room, poop, and only afterwards will she run around frantically and sit by the door to let us know she needs to go out. She thinks she is supposed to go outside AFTER pooping in the house. This is not a constant thing, as there are times where she will properly go outside every time for two days in a row or so, but then there are times where she does absolutely nothing to alert us that she needs to go, and will just go in the house.

We considered bell training, but we also have cats, so we assumed that would not work, as the cats would just play with the bells all the time and defeat the purpose. We are trying to teach her to scratch at the door, and shall continue working on that in the meantime, but she really only does it when we are already standing at the door ready to take her out.

Are there any suggestions on ways to train our dog to be far more obvious about letting us know when she needs to go outside BEFORE she already poops in the house?

Thank you very much!
 

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You are on the right track in that bell-training or anything incorporating that concept is an absolute godsend, or it has been for my family at least. I think it just has to be tweaked to make it a bit more cat-proof.

I'm no electrician, but I'm wondering if you can't somehow install some sort of a doorbell or buzzer beside the door. Alternately, maybe one of those desktop bells would work as well? I'll rack my brains, hopefully others can throw out some more workarounds in the meantime.
 

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You are on the right track in that bell-training or anything incorporating that concept is an absolute godsend, or it has been for my family at least. I think it just has to be tweaked to make it a bit more cat-proof.

I'm no electrician, but I'm wondering if you can't somehow install some sort of a doorbell or buzzer beside the door. Alternately, maybe one of those desktop bells would work as well? I'll rack my brains, hopefully others can throw out some more workarounds in the meantime.
Agreeing that bell training (or some variant of it) is the way to go. You can usually get doorbells for ~$15 at Home Depot or Lowes, and with a little work, the dog can learn to target the doorbell button. It takes slightly more work than the windchime/hanging bells version, but it's definitely possible and we'd be glad to coach you through it.

Really, you can train the dog to do any behavior to indicate that they need to potty by consistently and immediately taking them to potty after they do the designated behavior. Pick one (relatively unlikely) behavior that will always, 100% of the time, result in you taking the dog outside to potty. So something like "sit" or "down" doesn't work because the dog is going to do that in non-potty situations. You could get one of those recordable stuffed animals (hey, post-Valentine's Day sales start in the morning!) and record "I need to potty!" into it, then teach the dog that squeezing that toy = instantly go outside to potty.
 

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The dog needs to learn to tell owners that she needs to go out before she poops in the house. So I would either tether her to me or keep my eye on her all the time so she does not have the opportunity to toilet in the house.

And I would close the door to the other room where she's been pooping, and clean the carpet/floor with an appropriate enzymatic cleaner to remove any molecules of her poop's scent.
 

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We use bells as well, but I see what you mean about the cats. We hang a strand of Christmas bells from the back door, and taught Chase to ring them before he can go outside.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you very much for all of the helpful input thus far, everyone! We shall just keep trying to stick to the different methods of training non-stop and hope she catches on.
 

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All good advice so far.

Also, understand that the skill of telling her owners she needs to go out, is not a necessary part of being house trained. I know this sounds counter intuitive, but if you do your management part a bit better, she won't need to tell you she needs out.

1) Don't let her wander the house.
2) She should be tethered to you, or gated in the same room (use baby gates) with you at all times.
3) Take her out a bit more frequently than you think she needs to go potty.
4) Reward her with a tasty treat immediately (within 2 seconds) when she potties (keep them in your pocket.)

These management methods should reduce her accidents to near zero. With enough time practicing the correct habits, she'll become very reluctant to potty in another room, and more able to "hold it" until you get her out.

House training is habit formation, plain and simple. It is not a revelation or understanding for the dog. Make sure she practices the right habits every time, and the habit will be ingrained.


If you need more evidence that this is all about habit, just notice that she is in the habit of wanting to go out AFTER the potty, because no doubt that is what has happened many times in the past. ;) Dogs form patterns of behavior. One behavior cues the next behavior. Its very interesting to study this actually!

Be super diligent with your management for a few weeks or months and you'll find you can start to give her freedom gradually in the house. That is your quickest route to a resolution. Teaching a bell is nice, but it won't do you any good if her habit is still to potty in the house, then think next thing is to ring the bell to go out. See what I mean? ;)
 
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My dog is a chihuahua mix, and we have had the same problem. I cannot, cannot for the life of me figure out any "tells" for when he has to go potty. He gives no signal at all, ever. He also seems to be able to hold his pee for an amazingly long time. We figured out how to avoid accidents this way--at first I took him outside every hour, and of course rewarded him well for doing his thing (treats!, party). We also have a dog door to an outside kennel area where he can go, with a piece of fake grass. He uses it from time to time, but definitely prefers to go outside.
So my suggestions:
--take her out every hour and reward anything that she does outside.
--have her feedings on a strict schedule, so you know when she is likely to poop and can keep her in one room, with an eye on her.
--put her poop outside where you would like her to do her thing, as a reminder.
--spray the "wrong" area with an enzymatic cleaner.
--if you catch her squatting, grab her and go outside, then reward!
--a door to a fenced outside area would be a great back up.
--If you can figure out what surface she likes (rug?), and take it up, or limit access for now, that would help.

We also tried to teach the bells, for literally months I rang them before we went out, and I never could get my dog to do it on his own. He also NEVER scratches at the door! Also--is her poop consistently firm? If it is not firm enough, she may have a hard time holding it. We had real problems when Yogi had looser stools.
 
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