Many dog owners get confused when their dog is trying to tell them something. Barking or whining isn’t always the best method of communication, but if your dog can ring a bell to tell you when they need to go out, that is pretty clear. Teaching your dog “potty bell” or to ring a bell to go out and potty allows your dog to clearly tell you what he needs and wants. Bell ringing is a useful skill for a dog at any age, but it is especially helpful for potty training.
Button and Bell Options
Dog owners that want to let their dog communicate when they want to go outside have several options to choose from. The cheapest and easiest is using bells that hang from your doorknob or somewhere near the door. These bells need to be loud enough that you can hear them from anywhere inside your house.
However, there are also high-tech options like a talking button that is recordable. If you prefer the high-tech options, make sure you do your research and find an option that works best for your dog’s capabilities.
Types of Training Bells
Service Dog Doorbell
Similar to a call bell that is found on a service desk in a hotel, a service dog bell typically has a non-skid bottom and a rust-proof finish. This bell features a wide and flat button that your dog can easily hit with a paw.
Featuring large jingle bells and a heavy-duty nylon belt, the hanging doorbell can hang easily from any type of handle. Typically, it will have snap buttons that are easy to adjust allowing you to size your dog’s height.
Wireless Dog Doorbell
This type of training bell comes with two pieces – the receiver and the bell. First, plus in the receiver and place the bell on a door or wall using adhesive tape. You will have several volumes and ringtones to choose from, so you can find one that both and your pup prefers. This is a lightweight, weatherproof bell that can reach up to 1,000 feet allowing you to install it where you spend most of your time indoors at home.
Teaching a Dog to Ring Bells
It is actually easy to train your dog to ring bells by simply using treats or using a “touch.”’ Since we are not just teaching our dog to respond to cues, but it helps your dog to actually independently communicate with us, the best method is to show him how to use a button or bell. As you demonstrate this skill over time, a dog can make a connection that by ringing a bell, he can ask to go potty outside, and he will begin to mirror this behavior.
Steps to Train Your Dog to Ring a Bell
Introduce the bell – First, you need to show the bell to your dog. If he touches it using his nose, give him a treat. After he has touched his nose to the bell each time you show it to him, move on to the next step and make sure to hide the bell when you’re not using it.
Ring bell – Next, when you show him the bell, only give him a treat if he rings the bell by touching it. After he has rung the bell each time he is shown it, move on to the next step, and make sure you hide it when you’re not using it for practice.
Ring the bell by a door – Hang the bells by the door your dog typically uses to go outside and go potty. Make sure to show him the bell and give him a treat when he rings it. After he has run the bell as it hangs by the door every time you point to it, move on to the next step. Just make sure you put the bell away when you aren’t using it.
Ring the bell by the door and go out – Hang the bells by the door like the previous step and let him watch you put a treat just outside the door. Make sure you close the door before pointing to the bell. After he rings the bells, you can open the door to let him get the treat. After the rings the bells right after the treat is placed outside, you can move onto the next step, and you can leave the bells by the door.
Daily use – When you think your dog needs to outside to go potty, take him to the door and point at the bells. When he rings the bells, then open the door to let him go potty. Make sure to reward him with a treat after he is done. Every time you let him out, make sure to ask him to ring the bells first and then give him a treat when he is done.
Maintenance phase – Continue to leave the bells by the door and let him go outside when he rings them. If he begins to dawdle or play outside, make sure to bring him in. This will stop him from ringing the bell when he wants to go out and play or see a cat to chase.
Building a Relationship
Typically, a dog will catch onto the bell ringing process or pushing a button to go outside to go potty pretty quickly. As you work with your dog to understand the process, it can help you to build a relationship with him and increase your bond.
Plus, it can decrease frustrations in the home by allowing your dog to communicate his needs clearly with everyone in the house that may not understand his other natural signals that indicate he needs to go potty. And it’s a great help for pet sitters by allowing your dog to adjust to your absence better by clearly communicating this core need.
Do’s and Don’ts
Effective and simple, bell training a dog using his nose can be done. It’s a great communication tool that allows him to let everyone in the house know he needs to go potty. It’s also a great replacement for scratching at your door, barking, and whining that can stress you out. Here are a few dos and don’ts to help you effectively train a dog how to ring a bell.
- Use a command – It’s very useful to use commands when you are getting a dog used to ring a bell and establish what he needs to do with the bell. Most dog owners use “bell” or “touch” when they turn this action into a command. A dog responds well when he has structure, and having commands tells them what they need to do and when they need to it. After your dog understands “bell” or “touch” is associated with his paw or nose, then you have made it over your first hurdle.
- Practice in short increments – A dog learns best in small chunks of time, so keep your training periods short, preferably 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Remember that, if necessary, you can always try again later. Make sure the training times are engaging and fun for your dog and not a boring lesson that never ends. After practicing for 15 minutes, take a break for a couple of hours and try again. Just remember not to wait so long that your dog will have totally forgotten what you have taught him, but long enough that he thinks it’s fun to try again.
- Bell ringing is only for going potty – It’s important that your dog knows that the bell is only to be used to go potty and not for going outside to play. While you do want your dog to have fun and play outside, the bell needs to only be about going potty. It’s vital that you stay regiments about his use of the bell and going out or you will have a dog that rings the bell constantly. Take your dog outside to play when he has been nowhere near the bell to ensure that he knows that he will get to go outside to play, just not when he has rung the bell or hasn’t even approached the bell.
- Use a 3-step process – This process has the best success rate when you follow a 3-step process. You need to make sure your dog has each step down before going on to the next step. You need to remember that ringing a bell in order to go out and go potty is not a natural instinct for your dog, so it will take some time to get through each step.
- Don’t Use a bell that is too loud – It’s important to remember that a dog doesn’t like a loud noise, but you still need something loud enough to be heard from any place in your home so you can let your dog out. After first, the bell’s noise will probably startle your dog more than anything, so you may just want to start with jingle bells that are quieter, or you can even wrap up the bell with some material to quiet the noise a bit. Try to make it so that you can barely hear it and then work up to a louder bell sound. It’s important that your dog is not afraid of the sound, since you want him to want to touch the bell with his paw or nose and not run away terrified.
- Not giving a reward after he goes outside to potty – Dogs are very food motivated, so that is always a great way to give positive reinforcement. While verbal praise is appreciated by your dog, following up the praise with a treat is more effective. If your dog isn’t rewarded, he can just end up hating the entire process.
- Expecting too much right away – It’s important to keep in mind that this can be a lengthy process depending on the dog. So, don’t push your dog too quickly. Dog’s generally will not end up ringing the bell until several days of training. Some dogs take a while to be introduced to the bell method and won’t always understand right away what is expected of them. Plus, he may be afraid of it at first. Make sure you give your dog a treat each time he touches the bell with his paw or nose and then gradually move on from there.
- Believe your type of dog isn’t going to get it – This process isn’t just for specific dog breeds, so don’t underestimate what your dog’s ability is to learn this trick. It doesn’t depend on breed or size. Just remember that no matter what, he is capable of learning any trick as long as you practice regularly and have the patience to keep at it.
How long does it take to Bell train a dog?
When bell training a puppy, it can take between two and four weeks. If you are bell training a dog that is house trained, it may actually take him a little longer since you are breaking a habit with the retraining.
How do you train a dog to ring a bell to go outside?
First, you need to teach your pup to touch the bell with his paw or nose using treats as reinforcement. Once he gets the hang of that, move the bells onto the door he typically uses to go out and teach him to touch the bell there while continuing to reinforce the behavior with treats. Next, place the treat outside and teach him to ring the bell to get the treat. Finally, reinforce that the bell is to indicate his need to go outside to go potty by returning him inside if he just wants to play and reinforcing with a treat when he does go potty.
How do you potty train a puppy with a bell?
You will first need to teach your puppy to touch the bell with his paw or nose and use treats as positive reinforcement. After he gets the hang of that step, you can move the bells onto the door and teach him to touch the bell thereby continuing positive reinforcement with treats. Next, place his treat outside and then teach him to ring the bell in order to get the treat. Finally, using reinforcement, teach him that the bell is to indicate his need to go outside only to go potty by taking him inside when he only wants to play, but you also should use positive reinforcement with treats when he does go potty.
What is the fastest way to house train a dog?
To housebreak a new pup, first, keep him on a regular feeding schedule making sure to remove any food in between meals. Make sure to take your dog outside right away in the morning and then every 30 minutes thereafter. Also, make sure to take your dog to the same spot each day in the yard to go potty.