Like many other dog owners out there, I had a problem with Mal scratching at the door to get out. I realize that as a small pup it’s a cute behaviour and not very destructive but imagine as a fully grown dog with the nails of a full grown dog what the destructive power could be. Imagine the long scratch marks running down the side of the wall or even the door itself. I can see the long scratches in the paint and varnish and I’m not liking the image that’s inside of my head.
I realize that we have a screen hanging on the back door so that during nice weather Mal can come and go as he pleases, but we live in Southern Ontario and that means that from October to May we won’t be able to be leaving that door open on a regular basis, so, what do I do to stop Mal from becoming a destructive force as he grows?
I introduce a bell, something so simple and yet most people don’t think of it.
I’ve hung a large bell on the back door handle and every time I let Mal out I take his little nose and nudge the bell and as soon as it chimes I open the door and let him out. When he scratches or barks to let me know he wants out, I do not open the door until I ring the bell with his nose first. I do not hit his nose against the bell with any force, since this will cause discomfort and make the dog not want to have anything to do with the bell. I make sure that I always use his nose, even if he rings the bell with his paws because I’m trying to discourage him from using his paws to get me to let him out. If I open the door after he rings the bell with his paws, then that just teaches him to keep using his paws and then once again we’re heading down a destructive path.
I also use peanut butter in teaching this technique, when it’s time for me to let him out I dab a bit of peanut butter onto the bell and let him lick it off. As soon as the bell chimes I open the door, letting him know that as soon as the bell rings he gets to go out.
It’s very important that the door is opened instantly when the bell rings, te delay at all will make the training process more drawn out than it needs to be.
I’d planned on this taking quite some time to teach Mal to use the bell, but in reality to took about a month and a half for Mal to start using it consistently. Of course he’s learned it very well and now the bell rings whenever he needs out, whenever Skye goes out with him and nobody is listening to her cry to come back in, Mal is there ringing the bell for her.
The only draw back with this method is that the bell rings, a lot. So be prepared for chime, chime, chime whenever the dog needs out.
But it has saved the paint on the wall and the door.