How To Potty Train Your Puppy Using a Bell

Puppy Potty Training Tips

Bell training your dog

Most dogs do not cry or bark to let us know they need to go out and do their business. Guide dogs for the blind are trained to make contact with a string of bells hanging from the door they normally use to go out. Sightless people would not know if their dogs were at the door, looking pathetic, hoping to be noticed.

Even though sighted people should notice their dogs waiting at the door, we are often distracted with phone calls, computer work, housework or kids. That's how accidents occur. It's much easier to listen for the ringing bells than to constantly glance at the door to see if your dog is waiting to go out.

So, when house training puppies, we train our dogs to touch the bells, letting us know we should open the door. If you follow these steps for how to potty train a puppy, your dog will be ringing those bells in no time! (Most puppies start bell training at 11 weeks.)

  1. During dog training, it's often important to encourage the dog with a treat. Therefore, prior to letting your dog out in the morning, put a small dab of peanut butter or cream cheese on one of the hanging bells-preferably the bell nearest his nose height.
  2. Take the dog over to the bells-do not shake the bells at the dog! Gently cup the bell smeared with the treat in your hand and show it to your dog. Your dog will lick the treated bell causing it to ring and, as he is licking the bell, release it from your hand. Your dog will keep licking the bell causing the bell to sound out "bing, bing, bing." All the while you keep saying, "Good," and open the door.
  3. After your dog has eliminated and you've returned to the house, you may need to lift the bells and hang them up over the door or door knob for a while because your dog will probably want to lick the treated bell right away. Since you want your dog to touch the bells only when he needs to , put the bells back down later when you think your dog probably needs to eliminate. Check to see if there is any "treat" on the bell and replenish the treat on the bell if necessary.
  4. Soon, likely the same day you begin this training, your dog will start going to the door, looking at the bell, sniffing or "nosing" the bell. When your dog does this, do not put treats on the bell any longer-your dog now has the idea. Simply lift the bells in your hand and guide them toward your dog so they touch his nose and so the contact causes the bell to ring. Praise your dog and immediately take him out to do his business.

Soon your dog will be touching the bells on his own whenever he needs to go out. Remember that when potty training dogs, they grasp this trained behavior at different rates-some have it down in a matter of days, with others it may take a week or two. This is a very useful behavior to teach your dog. Now that you know how to train your puppy, remember that you must also be patient. Good luck! Stay persistent when potty training a puppy and you and your dog will succeed!

Helpful Puppy Potty Training Tips:

  • In the morning, park yourself by the bell door, have the puppy on leash and just hang out and wait for the puppy to get a little anxious, encourage him to touch the bell and when he so much as sniffs the bell, yeah! Out you go for the potty.
  • Take your puppy to the potty door, have the whole family go out the door but shut the door before the puppy can come with you. Stand on the other side of the door and in her frustration, she will scratch or perhaps nudge the bells. When she does viola! Open the door and out she goes for her potty!


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