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If you have a puppy – or an older dog who hasn’t quite mastered going outside to do their “business” – you might want to consider potty bell training. The point of this type of puppy training is to get your pup to give you a signal when they’re ready to go. Some people hang jingle bells on their back door; others prefer an electronic doggy doorbell or a wireless dog doorbell.

Regardless of what type of bell you use, if you’re patient and diligent, the bell training process can be very successful. Here’s a look at how to do it.

What Is A Dog Doorbell And Does Your Pup Need One?

potty bell training | Ultimate Pet NutritionIf your puppy doesn’t yet have the hang of potty training, bell training may be a fine option to try. A potty bell can be a great way to potty train your pet.

Here’s how it works: You simply put some sort of bell in an appropriate place, such as on the back doorknob. When the dog needs to potty, they’ll hit it with their nose. As with any form of training, though, you’re going to need to put in a little work. You’ll need to train your pup to touch the bell when it’s potty time. You’ll also need to train your dog to ring the bell only when they need to go – it’s not supposed to be a signal for playtime or dinnertime.

Consistent training is the key to success, no matter what kind of behavior you’re trying to enforce. Stay patient and have a lot of small, soft treats handy. Hopefully, it won’t take much time before your furry friend figures it out.1

How Do I Teach My Dog To Ring A Bell To Go Outside?

Potty bell training can be an effective tool when it comes to house training your pet. You’ve probably seen an adorable compilation of potty bell training videos online, or maybe a friend or family member has a pup who does it perfectly. Here’s a three-step process for trying it with your companion.

Step 1: Getting Familiar with the Bells

The first step is to get your pup familiar with the bells. As soon as they touch it with their nose, give a lot of praise and a treat. Some people find success by putting a small dab of peanut butter on one of the bells, or by attaching the treat behind them. Keep doing this until the dog touches the bells as soon as you put it in front of their nose.

Gradually move the bells farther away, so your dog has to take a few steps to touch them. It might also be helpful to add some sort of command word, such at “touch,” along with the praise and the treat reward. Over time, the dog will associate that word with the bell, and will do what’s needed when they have to go potty.2

Step 2: Hang the Bells

So, now your dog is perfectly comfortable with the bells, touching them on command. The next thing to do is to hang the bells from the doorknob. Bring the dog over to the bells, and get your pup to touch them again. Give more praise and treats, and repeat a few times.3

Step 3: The Big Test

puppy peeing in yard | Ultimate Pet NutritionThe third part of the dog potty bell training process is the true test. Put a leash on your pooch when you think it’s time for them to go potty. When you get to the backdoor, gesture toward the bells with one hand. You’re going to be “fading out” the treats – otherwise, your pup might not touch the bell without expecting some sort of reward.4

Once they ring the bell, say “potty,” or something similar, and then take them outside where they need to go. When they do their business, give praise – here’s where you can still give a treat.

It’s important your dog learns that the bells are for potty time, and nothing else. Using the leash helps reinforce that differentiation. If you take them outside and they don’t go, put them in their crate for about five or 10 minutes. Then, repeat the process. Eventually, your puppy will associate the bells only with potty time.5

Which Dog Doorbell Is Best For Your Pup?

There are three main types of ringing bells you can use as potty bells – hanging bells, “shop” doorbells, and wireless doorbells. Here’s a brief look at each.

  • Hanging bells – You can buy these jingle bells on their own, or make them yourself using simple craft store supplies. They’re exactly what you think they are – a string of bells that you hang over the doorknob. If you don’t want to have to deal with attaching something to your wall, this is a great alternative.
  • Shop doorbells – Do you remember walking into a department store and hearing a “ding” sound when you came through the door? This type of bell works like that service bell. They give off short, consistent bursts of sound. You mount this bell at a height your dog can easily touch with their nose.
  • Wireless doorbells – A wireless dog doorbell is great if you’re into technology. It will give off a chime when touched by your pooch.6

Bell Training Puppy Techniques: Dos And Don’ts

puppy treat | Ultimate Pet NutritionAs with any other form of house training – or dog training in general – there are some key dos and don’ts to remember.  

  • DO use word commands – Using a command such as “bell” or “touch” will give your dog the message they need to touch the bell when they need to go out.
  • DO stay consistent with each training session – Carve some time out each day to train your dog on touching the electronic doggy doorbell or whatever type of bell you use. Try to shoot for 10 or 15-minute sessions, because a puppy’s attention span probably won’t hold much longer than that.
  • DO make sure they only use the bell for potty time – Again, it’s important that your dog only associates the bell with going outside to relieve themselves. If they think it’s for dinner or to go outside and play, you’ll hear that bell ring all day and all night.
  • DON’T use a bell that’s too loud – The last thing you want to do is scare your puppy or older dog. In general, dogs really don’t like it when something’s too loud.
  • DON’T withhold rewards – Eventually, you’ll want your dog to get to the point where they automatically ring the bell when they go outside. But even when they do, keep praising them and giving a lot of love. During training, you’ll definitely need to keep giving treats to make sure they keep doing what they need to do.
  • DON’T assume certain types of dogs can’t be trained – Bell training works for every type of dog. No matter what their breed, all dogs can be taught.7

Be Ready To Work, And Be Patient

Any sort of house training, whether you employ clicker training or use some other method, takes time and patience. More importantly, it takes a lot of love. Your dog wants to please you more than anything else in the world and will really try to do what you want them to do. They won’t learn this type of potty training overnight, but eventually, they’ll get there.

Learn More:

Bringing Home A Puppy: Training, Tips, And Tricks For New Pet Owners


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Puppy Training Classes And Obedience Training For Adult Dogs: Where To Start