Teaching Your Dog or Puppy to Ring a Bell for More Successful Potty Training
Potty training is one of the number one questions that I get as it relates to dogs.
And I often recommend teaching your dog or puppy to ring a bell to alert you to when it is time that he wants to go outside. So in this article, I want to bell ringing down in a simple form on its own.
What You Will Need:
- A string of bells (that you can find at your local pet supply store, craft store, or even your local Wal-Mart)
- A Clicker
- Great Treats
- Your Dog
Before You Start Training:
First you must get your dog or puppy use to the sound of the bell.
For a few days or weeks I help my dogs adjust to the sound of the bell by attaching it to the doorknob of the door we go out.
This helps alleviate any fears associated with the noise of the bell, but it will not teach your dog to ring it!
Some people think by simply attaching the bell to the door and the fact that your puppy or dog hears the sound means he knows what to do with the bell; but he doesn’t!
At first I teach my dogs to ring the bell for a treat and don’t associate it with going outside.
Your dog has to be motivated to ring the bell, and in the beginning going outside doesn’t seem motivating enough to him!
But, if you teach him to ring the bell for a treat, he will easily and quickly learn to ring the bell.
I want my dogs to ring the bell with their nose, so I hang the bell close to their face.
It is instinct for dogs to want to investigate things you put near their face/muzzle, so he is likely to touch the bells lightly with his nose. Be ready for that moment and click and treat.
If he is apprehensive, put the treat very near the ribbon of bells so that he almost HAS to touch them in order to get at his treat. When he touches, click and treat!
Once he seemingly has this idea down, move the string of bells to the left or the right of your dog and see if he moves to go and hit them with his nose; if he does click and treat!
Next try moving the bells above his head and then closer to the floor. If he is chasing them with his nose in an attempt to ring them, then he understands what you want!
Once he understands what you want, you can begin giving it a command.
And, after several days or even a week or two you can then change its meaning.
Now have your puppy or dog ring the bell praise him and put him outside.
If you are still potty training go outside with him.
He will at first be confused and will probably go through several days of persistent bell ringing. Patiently go outside with him and quietly praise him for bell ringing.
Soon he will realize that bell ringing = going outside.
If you have to keep him on a leash or you are keeping him in a smaller room you can attach the bell to something close to him or the doorbell of the room you are in so that you can still make his environment small while encouraging bell ringing prior to going outside.
He needs to be pretty succinct and adept at not having accidents on the floor in order to give him the privilege of being off leash or available to ring the bell. At first it is more about getting him outside every few hours.
If you are having constant accidents in the house and he can’t hold his bladder…he will be unable to successfully ring the bell prior to going outside.
Make sure that you conquer one thing successfully at a time. Once he gains some control you can add bell ringing and he will have a better understanding of what it means!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.