How To Train Your Dog To Use A Potty Bell

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dog training bells

Everyone wishes their dog could talk to them, especially when you’re trying to figure out what she wants.

But luckily for you, there’s actually a way to train your dog to let you know when she needs to go to the bathroom.

The Dodo spoke with Iris Ulbrich, a behavior consultant and trainer with Tully’s Training in Los Angeles, about potty training bells that’ll let your dog tell you when she needs to be let out to do her thing.

What is a potty bell?

Basically, a potty bell is a bell you hang from, attach to or place near your front door. The goal is to train your dog to ring the bell when she’s got to go.

“Training bells can be used for the dog to signal that he needs to go outside to eliminate,” Ulbrich told The Dodo.

And if you can get your pup to indicate she has to go outside to do her business, you don’t have to worry about nasty pee pads taking up a corner of your home.

Plus, it’s freaking adorable!

“The potty bell is a great form of mental enrichment [and] can be useful to alert when you have a dog that naturally likes to bark or scratch the door to signal the need to go potty,” Ulbrich explained. “It can also function as a very cute party trick.”

Teaching your dog to use the bell

You might think this is a super complicated thing to teach your dog, but it’s actually no different than teaching her a standard trick.

“In order to teach a dog to use a bell to alert, cues like ‘touch,’ ‘nudge’ [or] ‘shake’ are taught at first, then applied to the bell in a trick-like manner,” Ulbrich explained. “After that, the bell is attached to the desired location and ultimately the behavior of using the bell is attached with the dog’s desired result of being let outside to go eliminate.”

In other words, you first have to teach your dog a command like “shake” to get the pawing motion down.

Then, you train her to direct that command toward the bell, so she gets used to actually ringing it.

Once your pup has that connection down, you can put the bell where you want it, and she’ll ultimately associate ringing the bell with going outdoors to do her business.

Just make sure your dog is using the bell only when she has to go to the bathroom, not because she wants to go outside and play.

“A lot of times the dog, however, realized that ringing the bell leads to being let outside, which is something most dogs love,” Ulbrich said. “So they ring the bell with the intention to just hang out outside, instead of simply ‘doing their business’ and instantly coming back inside.”

According to Ulbrich, when you’re training your pup, you need to be very clear that the bell is for the bathroom specifically, not for simply being let out. (Unless you’re OK with that!)

“If a dog alerts eight out of 10 times and follows through with peeing after ringing a doorbell, you are looking at a high success rate,” Ulbrich said.

Types of potty bells

When trying to decide which bells to buy, you’ll stumble across a couple different kinds.

There are bells you can hang from — or attach to — your door.

Like this brass bell from Chewy for $13.99

Or this hanging bell from Chewy for $7.99

When you’re using these kinds of bells, the only downside is that your pet might miss the bell and scratch your door when she’s ringing them.

If you want to avoid accidental scratches, there are bell buttons, or concierge-style bells, you can put on the floor and have your dog press.

Like this one from Amazon from $7.99

Just be careful because if you don’t stick them down to the floor, they could slide all over the place when your dog goes to signal.

Or your dog might even pick them up and try to play with them like her toys!

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