Potty Training Dogs with a Bell

Potty training dogs can be difficult because you need to anticipate your dog's needs and lead him to the place you want him to relieve himself. Many owners are turning to using bells so they can teach their dogs to alert them when they need to go. However, this method doesn't change the potty training process.

Avoiding Mistakes

To properly potty train your dog, you still have to anticipate when he has to go and avoid mistakes. The only way to do this is to keep an eye on him at all times during potty training. A dog who isn't potty trained isn't ready for unrestricted house freedom.

To ensure that your dog doesn't make any mistakes:

  1. Keep track of when your dog needs to go. Though it sounds silly, a journal is a great way to accomplish this. Keep track of when your dog does business and what he does. If you feed him his meals at the same time, this process becomes easier.
  2. For example, if your dog needs to relieve himself every hour, take him outside after 45 minutes and reward him for going outside. Bring him inside for another 45 minutes.
  3. If he does not go, put him in his crate or Xpen so he doesn't have access to the rest of the house where he might sneak off to relieve himself. Take him back outside in a half hour or so.
  4. Repeat this all day until your dog begins to let you know that he needs to go. If you see him start to wander off sniffing, run him to the door and take him outside.

Introducing the Bell

Before you can begin integrating the bell into this potty training routine, you must first teach your dog how to use the bell. Many dogs are nervous by strange objects or uncomfortable with objects that make noises, so make the bell rewarding.

Put the bell on the floor and wait for your dog to investigate it. As your dog shows interest, praise him and intermittently reward. If you use a clicker, this is a great way to teach. As soon as your dog dings the bell, reward and praise profusely. Practice until your dog is actively seeking out the bell to ring it. This shouldn't take long if you make it a game.

Integrating the Bell into Potty Training

Once your dog knows how to ring the bell, place it by the door. When your dog rings it, praise him but go outside with him rather than giving him a reward. Repetition of this will help him understand that ringing the bell predicts opening the door.

Now, add that into the potty training routine. When your dog needs to relieve himself, lead him over to the door, on leash if necessary, and command him to ring the bell or use his paw to ring it. Then, lead him outside.

Make sure that he never walks out the back door without ringing the bell during a potty training practice. This will develop a routine that will become muscle memory in your dog's brain. He will know that to get outside when he has to relieve himself, he has to ring the bell.

Once he begins doing this on his own, praise and reward profusely. When he reaches that point, it will soon be a part of his lifetime routine.