Over the years before Queso, we easily and quickly house trained three puppies. Queso trained quickly too–but then we found she kept sneaking off to pee in out of the way places in the house. More than once, we had to go back to square one with our house training with her and then watch her very closely.
We finally concluded her signals she needed to go out were so quiet and subtle we often missed them. Rather than get louder or more insistent about her needs she’d sneak off.
She’s a independent dog, quiet, stoic and smart. Unlike our other dogs, she rarely demands attention. She won’t climb up onto your lap or push her head into your hand or bark to get her needs met. She will, however, use her smarts in her own quiet way. The way she solved our lack of noticing her sitting quietly by the door was to take matters into her own four paws and find a place to take care of herself.
As she got older and had more patience and control, this behavior stopped and is rarely a problem. But when Sugarplum, our next puppy, came home with us we decided to give her a clearer way to tell us she needed to go out. I had discovered you could hang bells from the doorknob and teach a dog to ring them when they needed to go outside. It seemed like a good idea to give a dog a clear means of communication especially after our experience with Queso.
It didn’t take Sugarplum long to learn to paw at the bells. In fact, she quickly became a relentless and enthusiastic bell ringer. She rings them when she wants to go out. She rings them to let us know one of our cats is outside waiting to come in. She rings them when one of the other dogs is outside waiting to come in. She comes inside for five minutes, rings the bells to go out, comes back in and turns around to ring them again to go out.
She’s a very different dog than Queso and I now know nothing would stop her from telling us what she needs. Unlike Queso, she is not reticent. She will put her paws in our laps or paw at us for attention. She will bark to let us know if a cat is anywhere he shouldn’t be, if another dog is eating her food or otherwise not obeying the rules. She yips excitedly when we see other dogs. And she would surely paw at the door or bark to go out. But she doesn’t have to because someone had the idea to teach her to ring those damn bells.