What are Housebreaking Bells?
This is a type of bell that hangs down low on a string or dangles from a flange that is installed near the doorway. When a dog needs to pee or poo, he will paw or nose at it, and it rings out.
While some owners handcraft their own devices (mostly using Christmas jingle bells), these are often not loud enough for you to hear the signal unless you are right there. And that nullifies the whole point.
Why Potty Training Bells are Fantastic
This is not a 'must' for all owners. If you are always right beside your Maltese and/or take your puppy or dog out so often that there's no need to wait for a signal, you may not have any reason to implement this sort of method
However, if you find that you tend to be in a different room than your Maltese ( for example, if he's in the living room and you're cooking dinner in the kitchen) or if your Maltese wakes up at night for bathroom needs, using a signaling device may be a good choice.
If you use the right type of bell, this is a great method for several reasons:
- It is easy to get started
- It will be easy to train him to use it
- And - perhaps most importantly - it will ring out loud enough for you to hear it
For those that wished that their dogs could speak, this is as close as you can get to your Maltese telling you that he needs to go outside.
Can a Maltese of Any Age be Taught This?
The answer is a big yes! You can start off doing this with a young puppy and
you can teach an older adult to start signaling in this way.
In many cases, this works best if a dog is already house trained; this is just an additional step to that.
How To Train a Maltese to Signal Bathroom Needs
Once you have things in place, training is rather straightforward. Many dogs catch on in as little as a few days.
We'll go over the type of bell that is right for your Maltese coming up. First, let's focus on how this will work.
1. You will set up the bell.
You'll want to place this on or near the door that is used when you bring your Maltese outside. The goal will be for the bell to only chime when a Maltese is going to go potty.
While many are marketed as 'doorknob' bells, if the door is used by others in the house simply just to enter and exit the house for other reasons, it is best to place this near the door, using a command strip hook or other hanging method. Alternatively, you may opt for the type that hangs from a flange on the wall. In these ways, it will not ring out from others coming in and out.
Ahead, we will go over your choices and some tips for setting one up.
2. Have proper training treats.
Like anything that you want to train your Maltese to do, training treats will play a big role. While praise is important as well, the quickest way for a puppy or dog to learn to take any action is via reward.
You will want the treats to be special, which means that you'll choose something that is novel and not given as normal snacks. They should also be sized very small, so that these offer a super-tasty reward, but do not fill your dog's tummy.
If you're already offering a great snack like Fruitables (one that we highly recommend), you can, for example, save the Fruitables Pumpkin & Blueberry Crunchy Dog Treats
for this signal training and offer some of the other flavors for regular treats.
You will want to keep some of the chosen training treats in a small zipped plastic bag and have these very handy near the exit point.
3. Training can begin once the bell is in place and you have your training treats ready.
It is very important to follow the rules every single time that you take your Maltese out for potty needs. If you skip this every other time or if other household members forget to do this, you may not find success.
So, a big part of this working is that you will be consistent.
You will find that teaching your Maltese to signal you can be done in under a week and is very simple due to this being classical conditioning:
Have your Maltese use the bell every time that you take your puppy or dog out for bathroom needs.
As you are leaving, bring your puppy or dog over the the bell. Encourage him to paw or nose it (your preference) and then immediately give praise and reward, then quickly exit to reach the designated bathroom area.
Once your dog pees or poos, offer praise and reward for a second time.
Within just a few days, most dogs learn to use the signal on their own. When this starts happening, react as fast as possible. Say your chosen keyword that means you are going out (such as 'pitty-potty'), continue to offer praise and reward, then immediately head out to the bathroom area.
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