How many times as a dog owner have you wished your dog could talk and let you know when it’s time to go potty? Wouldn’t it be phenomenal if your puppy or dog had the power to just tell you something like this: “I think it is time for me to go out potty, I can hardly hold it anymore!” Life would certainly be much easier and there would obviously be less accidents around the house. Nowadays, courtesy of training, you can give your dog power to communicate with you. Of course, your dog won’t be using words, but his behavior will speak volumes if you train your dog to ring a bell to go outside.
Why Teach a Dog to Ring a Bell to Go Outside?
Along with learning how to behave, as puppies grow, they also learn how to “hold it” just as human toddlers do. When they’re really young, their muscles aren’t developed as of yet so by the time they realize they need to potty, there’s already a big puddle on the kitchen floor. As puppies mature though, they learn to hold it more and they may start giving signs they need to go.
At first, these signs are subtle and you’ll need to pay attention to the smallest cues such as stopping to play and then suddenly walking away, sniffing the floor and circling. Later, as you take your dog more and more outside to potty, your dog may try to go towards the door. It’s very important to acknowledge these first attempts of letting you know he wants out and reward them by quickly moving towards the door, praising your dog and opening it so your dog can potty outside.
As much as this can be effective, consider that your dog’s behavior of going to the door to inform you it’s time to go potty won’t be effective if you’re in another room. This is when teaching a dog to ring a bell to go potty outside comes handy.
How to Train Your Dog to Ring a Bell
As with all things involving training, in order to successfully train your dogs to ring a bell, you must be armed with lots of patience and persistence. This method works best with dogs that are 95 percent potty trained, suggests Aidan Bindoff. Training to ring a bell will not happen in one day, but once learned, you are granted a lifetime of ringing bells! Here’s a list of items needed and a guide on how to train it.
Look for either a single jingle bell attached to a cord, or if you prefer, a series of bells attached to the cord. It’s your choice if you prefer the sound of a single bell or a series of bells. You also will need the incentive that will bring you and your dog to success: tasty treats! If you are familiar with clicker training, use your clicker. Last but not least, you’ll obviously need a door.
For convenience sake, keep plenty of treats handy somewhere high near the door. You need to be prepared because in the first days and weeks, when the bell rings, it means you will give a treat, praise the dog and head outside. The bell will need to be hung to the door knob in such a way that the dog can easily move it by pawing at it or touching it with its nose, but for now, it’s a good idea to teach your dog how to target the bell. Targeting means interacting with an object by touching it with either a paw or nose. If you are familiar with clicker training, use a clicker to train this.
Start by keeping the bell in your hand and a treat in the other. Click your clicker or say “yes!” the moment your dog sniffs the bell and reward by tossing the treat on the floor. Repeat several times. Now, start raining criteria and click and reward only touches that cause the bell to ring. Once your dog learns that he must ring the bell to get a treat, you can attach it to the door knob and praise and reward him for making it ring. As he gets good at ringing the bell, you can start opening the door instead of giving a treat, you let your dog out and give him treats only after he has gone potty. Soon, your dog will learn that every time he rings the bell, you open the door. Of course this is not exactly like having your dog tell you “Hey, I can hardly hold it any more” but it is sure close enough!