Teaching your dog to ring a bell to go outside... innocent or slippery slope?

Be careful what you wish for and be careful anytime your dog is making demands on you. I often have clients that want to teach their dog to ring a bell when it needs to use the bathroom outside. This sounds like a fantastic and practical skill to teach. And... it can be with no issues whatsoever. However, I personally see a few problems with this: 1. The dog will quickly learn "I ring the bell = I get to go outside." While it can start off practical and innocent, it can get annoying quickly, especially for a dog that loves to play the in and out game all day long... having the humans come running every time they want to see what is going on outside for a brief moment, 2. I have never been a fan of a dog putting me on their schedule and/or demanding something from me and that includes when they get to go outside (or come inside for that matter- I have seen dozens of people’s doors torn up because the dogs have learned when they paw and jump at the door they get let in). It is the same thing with dogs that constantly paw at our leg until we pet them or a dog that barks until it gets attention. These behaviors are demanding in nature and they are not cute; they are bratty and deserve a correction. While innocent enough at times, these little demanding behaviors can add up to leadership issues within the home and lead to bigger issues, and 3. It simply isn't necessary. If you give your dog plenty of opportunities to be outside to use the bathroom on YOUR schedule, then the dog will quickly learn to adapt to your schedule. I trained guide dogs for the blind for 5 years and never did we teach those dogs to tell the handlers when they had to go outside. The handlers put them on a schedule and they were just fine 🙂 Be careful what you wish for :)

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