Shannon Stacey

Oh, Taz, you’re killing us

He’s cute, isn’t he? He’ll be six months old on the 29th, which means he’ll only have his half-birthdays every four years (as the Short Kid pointed out). And, as we were told while pondering which gender puppy to get, he loves all of us with equal joy and slobbery kisses. (As opposed to Mini who likes a little cuddle time with Daddy in the evening, but is essentially Mommy’s pretty princess.)

He’s playful and loves to bomb around with the Short Kid, who’s really looking forward to taking him to camp this year. He has high hopes Taz will play ball and play fetch and, in general, behave like a dog, whereas Mini curls up on my lap in the lounge chair.

Yay, right?

So, in the course of conversation with my awesome family members who are tentatively prepared to babysit Taz and Mini while we’re in Anaheim this summer, I was asked: “Taz will be housebroken by then, right?”

Um. Well. We hope so?

In the course of the morning schedule and my work day, we do fine. The dogs curl up and nap most of the day, so when Taz jumps off the couch and stretches, it’s time to go out. It’s once school’s out and the weekends we have issues. We fully grasp it’s more us than him—when our attention’s scattered, taking him out gets overlooked.

I have to come up with a way for him to signal. Mini scratches at the (steel) door when she needs to go out and Taz will go and sit next to her and wait for me to stop yelling “Hold on, Mini! Just one more sentence!” I did, one time, spot Taz scratching at the door, but only because I happened to be walking into the kitchen. His little feet make no noise, so it does no good and I’ve never seen him do it again.

I’ve heard some people use bells. Not sure if that’s bells hanging from the doorknobs, which would amuse my cats to the point I’d probably start ignoring it, or the little “ring bell for service” bells. I saw a little dog use one of those on AFV.

I’m totally open to suggestions. He’s a wicked smart dog and he knows to go potty when we go out. We just haven’t come up with a way for him to tell us he needs to go out. Anybody have a system, like a bell or whatnot, that’s worked for a dog who can’t make scratching noises? Help?

9 comments to “Oh, Taz, you’re killing us”

  1. Jaci Burton
      · February 20th, 2012 at 9:49 am · Link

    The one thing you’ll find–or that I’ve found–is that every dog is different. Of our three, Bee will come up to us and scratch on our legs or try to climb up on us or bark when she wants to go outside. Jaz will start dancing backwards. That’s his signal. Sam will just stare at us or go sit by the back door. And we’re supposed to get the psychic clues that means he wants to go out. Eventually you figure it out, and yours is still a pup and he’s still learning control, which means it’s really up to you to take him out frequently so he grabs a clue that his potty business has to be done outside all the time.

    Fortunately for us, ours are adults and all rockstars who can hold it for like 10 hours if they have to.

    Housebreaking is not for the faint hearted. I’m glad mine aren’t puppies anymore. Yours will get there with a little concerted effort.

  2. Larissa
      · February 20th, 2012 at 9:52 am · Link

    PoochieBells! They are amazing! That’s how I trained Hexe to signal to go outside. I only had to take her paw and scratch the bells, then open the door to let her out three times and she had it down. Haven’t had an accident since. She even rings the bells when she has to throw up! Very polite dog… :)

  3. Larissa
      · February 20th, 2012 at 9:54 am · Link

    Oh, and I forgot to say…we got Hexe at 6 months old and she wasn’t housebroken. After a week of accidents in the house, I got the bells…and seriously, she figured out the bells/outside connection that very day. No accidents since!

  4. Shannon
      · February 20th, 2012 at 10:16 am · Link

    Mini actually has two signals. If she’s gotta pee, she scratches at the door. If she has other business, she’ll put her front paws on the coffee table and give me a look over the wood like “excuse me, but I have a delicate matter to attend to”. It’s pretty funny.

    Taz? Nothing. He’ll just be walking and stop and pee and keep going. Doesn’t even give a furtive look over his shoulder.

    Larissa, have you had to deal with Hexe abusing the bell? Hey, mom’s boring and outside has all the good smells so I’m going to ring the bell every five minutes…

  5. library addict
      · February 20th, 2012 at 10:45 am · Link

    If we’re downstairs, Zeke will just go and sit by the backdoor. Sometimes he scratches at the glass, but that really doesn’t make much noise.

    If I’m upstairs on the computer, he will come over and put his front paws on the arm of my chair and keep doing so until I get a clue – lol.

    I think he became potty trained more by accident than by design. I took him outside like 9 times a day when he was a puppy. He only ever had 2 or 3 accidents in doors and one of those was when he was really sick. He also had one accident in the car, but that was totally my fault as I figured he had to go, but we were on the bypass and I didn’t get off in time.

  6. Allie
      · February 20th, 2012 at 11:43 am · Link

    My dogs just come over and stare at me if they need to go out. If we are downstairs, they will go stand by the door.

    I do have my dogs on a schedule, so they rarely need to come and tell me they need to go out. You might try that. Go out every 45 minutes or every hour or however long he seems to be able to manage. It is also helpful to have your dog go potty on command. This way you do not need to stand around a long time in the rain.

    The ringing a bell thing to go out is such an awesome idea. Unfortunately my two border collies decided they would just use the bell to call me back from wherever I went. It is apparently easier to ring the bell than to search the house for me.

  7. Leah Braemel
      · February 21st, 2012 at 8:09 am · Link

    Oh thank you so much for this post, Shannon. We’re having similar problems with Seamus (especially that bit about “He’ll just be walking and stop and pee and keep going. Doesn’t even give a furtive look over his shoulder.” That’s Seamus to a T) I’ve heard that smaller dogs are harder to train than larger ones thanks to the smaller bladders. Of course Taz is exactly one month older than Seamus so I’m not liking the idea that I’ll still be going through this a month from now.

    We thought we had him trained for the other stuff but then he’s slipped backward. Plus his sign was barking at us, except he barks when he wants up, when he wants down, when he is bored, when he…well, you get the idea–we were constantly taking him outside.

    I think he does a lot of it because of the “hey, Mom’s boring” syndrome too. It also doesn’t help that my office is on the top floor, the door outside is two floors down…

    Off to investigate the poochie bells.

  8. Carin
      · February 21st, 2012 at 8:26 am · Link

    We don’t have pets so I can’t address the doggie signal issue. I do have some advice for remembering to take him out regularly.

    I’ve got kids on some serious meds. You’d think when they were that important you’d remember, right? We were having a hard time until I set alarms on my phone. Repeating, daily alarms for every time a medicine was due. That might be a way to train yourself to take Taz out. :)

  9. Larissa
      · February 23rd, 2012 at 1:31 pm · Link

    Hey, Shannon, totally forgot to come by and answer your question! Anyway, yes, Hexe has abused the system on occasion. Sometimes she’ll ring the bells just to tell us she wants something…usually to play. Fortunately, she doesn’t do it often. If she seems to be in that kind of mood I make her ring the bells twice, because if she really does want to go out, she’ll ring twice. Heck, she is so great about the bells that she rings them when she has to go outside to vomit.

    Now, that said, she DOES ring the bells when she just wants to go outside to lay on the deck or get a drink of water — we put her water dish outside because she drinks like a horse and splashes and drools water all over the house. So yes, she rings the bell anytime she wants to go outside, but for us it’s okay because we have an underground fence, so she has free run of the yard.

    The dog I had before Hexe, a corgi, used the bells too, but we didn’t have a yard at the time, so she ONLY did it when she had to go to the bathroom, and she never abused the system. But then, she didn’t like going outside! :)

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