This fall we decided to teach the dogs how to let us know when they need to go outside. Before this, their trick was for Maddy to stand at the end of my bed and sigh deeply. Vicki would growl low in her throat and Montel would stare at you until you noticed. Since this was resulting in a lot of midnight problems, we sought out a solution.
A friend had just gotten a puppy and raved about how she was learning to ring a bell when she needed out. I figured our dogs could do this, so I set up Christmas bells on a string connected to the back door.
Ky worked for a few days with the dogs. If they went to the back door, she would tell them to "ring the bell" and then lift their paws up and force them to do it. Montel was the only one who learned. Madison looks at the bell and then looks at you and looks back at the bell. I'm pretty sure she wants me to ring it for her. Vicki scratches madly at the door - a foot from where the bell is. She has not yet managed to ring them herself. The closest she has come to it is telling Monty she wants to go out and forcing him to ring it.
Now, I wish we had never taught Monty how to ring that damn thing. He rings it all the time. When he wants to go outside, yes. But also when he's bored. When he feels we aren't paying enough attention to him. When he wants Vicki to play with him. When he has just walked back in the house and you do not need out again.
Today I was working on something for my father. I had to be in the other room to use the scanner. Montel would come visit me and then run for the back door. And if I didn't come get him right away, he would ring louder. And if I ignored him he would come back to me in the room, scratch my arm and then run for the door to ring the bell even louder. I actually yelled at him to stop ringing the bell. It didn't work. Finally I put him outside by himself until I was done. He barked and scratched at the door to get back in.
I can't win.