My dog is about 5 years old and I adopted her from a shelter over two years ago. She is about 17 pounds, probably a poodle/bison mix. Seemingly she had never been kept indoors before she came to us. She finally got over her anxiety of being indoors and has gradually done much better about urinating/defecating outside. She will do these things on command outside, but she gives me no signal as to when she needs to go outside. I can not trust her with free range of the house at night. During the day, she is fine the majority of the time, as long as "I" remember how long it has been and keep a notice on how much she has been drinking. Otherwise, she will wet whenever she has the need. I am still at a loss as to how to train her to let me know when she needs to go outside? Have you got any suggestions?
You, Lady, have done a wonderful job so far. If you can teach her to go on command, you have most of the problem won.
Here are a couple of suggestions.
First: find something that interests her. If it is toys, then get her a toy that she carries outside whenever she goes out with you. She can drop it outside then go to the bathroom then get the toy again. Some dogs just work well with toys.
Second: you can get her to ring a bell each time you go out. This can be done with clicker training or just running over consistently and getting her excited enough to accidently hit the bell and then you praise her. It can be any kind of bell from a little cow bell to jingle bells. Make it fun, a game.
Three Scheduling. Only let her go out at certain times and when you see that she has to go to the bathroom, hold her or crate her for about ten minutes, then ask her if she wants to go out. By getting her on a schedule, her habits will become more regular.
Four: you sound like you are already doing this, but become more alpha with her. Make her sit before you feed her. Make sure she stays until you say she can go out the door, with you going first. etc.
Five: Now that she goes on command, if you use the words "Go Potty" for instance, when you are in the house, you can say "NO potty". this has to be done with small rewards at first. Only make her "NO potty" for a few minutes, stretching it longer and longer.
Six: Set an alarm. When the alarm goes off. Get her excited "Oh it is time to go out, hurray" take a treat and take her out. Give her the treat first, then walk her, tell her to go to the bathroom and treat again. Make a big fuss, when the alarm goes off. The idea here is to get her used to going with the alarm. Remember Pavlov dogs? If not, look it up it is a long research that is so interesting on conditioning.
Well here are the suggestions. I find "No potty" works great unless I stretch it way too long. I try NOT to do that, it really is a step backwards.