How to Train Your Puppy Dog to Ring a Bell to Potty

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How to Train Your Puppy Dog to Ring a Bell to Potty

by Aidan Bindoff

After you have housetrained your puppy dog, you might find it useful to train your puppy to ring a bell when he wants to go out to potty. Believe it or not, this is not a difficult trick to train if you follow these instructions. Your puppy will only ring the bell when he or she genuinely needs to go to the toilet.

This is not a behaviour you want on cue (command). Ideally, you want your dog to learn that ringing the bell gets them let outside when they need to go to the toilet and at no other time.

At first you need to shape the bell ring that you want. This is done by presenting the bell in front of pup's nose and clicking & treating when she touches the bells, even if by accident (it is assumed that the reader knows a little about clicker training here and can shape a target behavior). If pup isn't interested, put the bell behind your back, wait a few seconds, then present the bell again. When pup has a really, really good idea that you want her to touch the bells, then you stop clicking & treating the quieter rings, and only click & treat the louder rings (this is known as selective reinforcement).

Then you start doing this when you know pup needs to go to the toilet. Present the bells at the back door, click, then open the back door (no treat). Put the bells away until next time pup needs to go to the toilet.

After a while pup will figure out "hey, every time I ring the bell I get let out to potty!" When pup is anticipating ringing some bells before you let her out (demonstrated by looking at you, or looking at bells when not presented), it's time to start leaving the bells hung up on the door.

You should have a pretty good idea of when pup will need to go to the toilet. So if you hear the bells rung at that time, race over and open the door. If you hear bells ring at other times, ignore it. Don't let this trick work for pup unless you're at least 80% sure it's because she needs to go to the toilet.

This is a trick best left for pups who are already 95% toilet trained, but if pup isn't already toilet trained go right ahead and teach pup how to ring the bells, then wait until pup is toilet trained before continuing.

Some dogs will find bell ringing intrinsically reinforcing, regardless of what happens after the bells are rung. This sort of dog cannot easily be taught to ring a bell only when needing to toilet.

Remember, no cues! Don't prompt with your hands or give verbal hints of what you want pup to do. It will only add confusion and you'll probably find that pup starts looking for them. Still bodies, quiet mouths. Use your clicker to communicate.

These instructions first appeared on the Doghousbreaking Yahoo Group.

Aidan Bindoff is Editor of, your helpful online resource for positive dog training and behavior information.

Aidan Bindoff - EzineArticles Expert Author

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