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How To Bell Train Your Dog: Your Complete Guide To Teaching Your Dog to Use A Bell - PawSafe
Dog Training

How To Bell Train Your Dog: Your Complete Guide To Teaching Your Dog to Use A Bell

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

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You can learn how to bell-train your dog if you’ve always wanted to communicate with your dog better. This method is especially useful for puppies still learning to communicate their need to go potty. 

Bell training also benefits older dogs who have developed a habit of scratching at the door or barking to signal their need to go outside. Even pups with their fair share of accidents that need pet stain removers to clean benefit from potty bells.

Bell training is a simple and effective method that requires patience and consistency. Experts like Ava Sinclair stress the importance of dog bell training in the book Dog House Training. So, t’s dive right into teaching your pooch how to use a potty bell. 

The benefits of bell training are many. It helps to prevent accidents, after all who wants to encounter their dog having pooped in the crate or house? The only thing left after your dog masters this is deciding what to do with all the poop in the yard till garbage day.

The benefits are impressive, granted your dog doesn’t choose to ring the bell every time they want a trip outside, pressed or not. Still, it’s better to take that leap of faith and hope your dog doesn’t misuse their newfound powers of going out many times.

You can bypass this challenge of excessive bell-ringing by adding discretion to how many times your dog has already gone outside. Overall, bell training is a simple and effective way to train a dog to signal when they need to go outside. 

Benefits Of Bell Training: Is Bell Training Good For Dogs?

Bell training is a great way to teach your dog how to communicate their need to go outside. Training dogs to use a bell is good for dogs, as we can see in these benefits:

1. Prevents accidents

Bell training can help prevent accidents in the house because it gives the dog a clear way to signal when they need to go outside. This also helps with dogs that don’t want to poop outside and pee in the house due to anxiety or improper training. 

2. Easy to learn, Easy to Teach

Bell training is easy to teach and can be done in just a few sessions. This is because bell training involves the use of their auditory senses, making it even easier to make a connection. 

You can see how fast dogs respond to bells in Pavlov’s experiment. Here, dogs salivated at the sound of a bell when given food every time the bell rang. 

3. Improves communication

Bell training helps improve communication between the dog and the owner. The dog learns to communicate their needs, and the owner learns to recognize and respond to those needs.

4. Builds confidence

 Bell training can help build a dog’s confidence by giving them a clear way to communicate and by reinforcing positive behavior. Training and socialization and the two almost sure ways of building a dog’s confidence.

5. Helps with house training

 Bell training can be a useful tool in house training a new puppy or dog new to the household. Puppies, especially, can only stay in a crate for so long as they need to relieve themselves more than adults. 

How to Choose the Right Bell

When it comes to bell training a dog, choosing the right bell is crucial. The bell should be loud enough to grab the dog’s attention but not so loud that it scares them. Here are a few things to consider when choosing a bell:

Size

The size of the bell should be appropriate for the size of the dog. A small bell may not be loud enough for a larger dog, while a large bell may be too heavy for a small dog to press. It’s important to find a bell that is the right size for your dog.

Material

Bells can be made of various materials, such as brass, stainless steel, or plastic. It’s important to choose a material that is durable and can withstand the wear and tear of everyday use.

Sound

The sound of the bell is perhaps the most important factor to consider. The bell should be loud enough to get the dog’s attention but not so loud that it scares them. A bell with a pleasant tone is also preferable.

Remember, bell training dogs goes beyond just teaching them to ring a bell to tell you when they want to go outside. You can also get bells that record sounds, like words. By pressing these words, your dog can learn to communicate a variety of things to you. See the video below for an example of how to use buttons to teach your dog to communicate:

Type of bell

The type of bell is also worth considering. The traditional bell is attached to rope that you can hang from your door knob. Your dog can then nudge the bell to make it ring. However, there are also buzzers available now that you can attach to the floor or the door. These buzzers can sometimes also be programmed to make specific sounds with different meanings.

These kinds of buzzers are ideal for taking bell training to the next level to get a “talking dog” like Bunny below:

Step-by-Step Guide to Bell Training: How to Get Your Dog to Use the Bell

Introducing the Bell

The first step in bell training a dog is to introduce the bell. This can be any type of bell that makes a distinct sound when it is rung. The bell should be placed near the door the dog will use to go outside.

The dog should be allowed to sniff and become familiar with the bell. The owner can ring the bell a few times to get the dog’s attention and to let the dog hear the sound of the bell.

Associating the Bell with Going Out

Once the dog is familiar with the bell, the next step is to associate the sound of the bell with going outside. The owner should ring the bell every time they take the dog outside. This will help the dog understand that ringing the bell means it’s time to go outside.

After a few repetitions, the dog will start associating the sound of the bell with going outside. At this point, the owner can start to encourage the dog to ring the bell themselves. 

Reinforcing the Behavior

The final step in bell training a dog is to reinforce the behavior. Every time the dog rings the bell to go outside, they should be praised and rewarded. This positive reinforcement will encourage the dog to continue ringing the bell when they need to go outside.

If the dog doesn’t ring the bell after a few minutes, the owner should take the dog outside anyway. This will help reinforce the idea that ringing the bell is the best way to let the owner know that they need to go outside.

By following these simple steps, owners can successfully bell-train their dogs and make potty training a breeze.

Okay, But How Long Does It Take To bell-train a Puppy?

The process of bell training a puppy typically takes a couple of weeks, although the exact duration can vary depending on the individual puppy’s age, breed, and learning abilities. Consistency also determines how fast your dog learns to use a potty bell. 

Common Challenges in Bell Training

Ignoring the Bell

One of the most common challenges in bell training is when the dog ignores the bell. This can happen for several reasons, such as the dog not understanding the purpose of the bell, the bell being too far away from the dog, or the dog being distracted by other things.

To prevent this, it is important to start by placing the bell in a location that is easily accessible to the dog. Additionally, it is important to ensure the dog understands the bell’s purpose. 

This can be done by ringing the bell and immediately taking the dog outside to go potty. Over time, the dog will start to associate the sound of the bell with going outside.

If the dog continues to ignore the bell, it may be helpful to try a different type of bell or to use a different method of training.

Overusing the Bell

Another common challenge in bell training is overusing the bell. This can happen when the owner rings the bell too frequently or when the dog starts to ring the bell for reasons other than going potty.

To prevent this, it is important to only ring the bell when the dog needs to go outside. Additionally, it is important to teach the dog that ringing the bell for reasons other than going potty is not acceptable. You can do this by ignoring some of your dog’s ringing if you know they’ve pottied not so long ago.

Maintaining and Advancing Bell Training

Once a dog has been successfully bell trained, it’s important to maintain the training to ensure that the dog remembers what they’ve learned. Here are a few tips for maintaining and advancing bell training:

  • Consistency is key. Continue to follow the same routine every time the dog needs to go outside. This includes ringing the bell and immediately taking the dog outside to do their business.
  • If the dog starts to ignore the bell, it may be time to switch things up. Try using a different type of bell or moving the bell to a different location.
  • Gradually increase the time between the bell ringing and taking the dog outside. This will help the dog learn to hold their bladder for longer periods of time.
  • If the dog has an accident inside, don’t scold or punish them. Instead, take them outside immediately and reinforce the bell training.
  • Once the dog has mastered bell training, it’s possible to advance the training by teaching them to ring the bell on their own. This can be done by gradually moving the bell further away from the door and encouraging the dog to ring it with their nose or paw.

Remember, bell training is a process that requires patience and consistency. With time and effort, any dog can learn to use a bell to signal when they need to go outside.

Alternatives to Bell Training for Potty Training

While bell training can be effective for potty training a dog, it may not work for every dog or owner. Here are some alternativ-e-archives to consider:

1. Crate Training

Crate training involves confining the dog to a crate when not supervised. Dogs instinctively avoid soiling their sleeping area, so this method can be effective for potty training. You can check out our article on how to crate-train your dog.

However, it is important to ensure the crate is the appropriate size for the dog and that they are not left in the crate for too long.

2. Paper Training

Paper training involves placing newspapers or puppy pads in a designated area for the dog to use as a bathroom. Over time, the owner can gradually move the papers closer to the door and eventually outside. This method can be helpful for small dogs or those who cannot go outside frequently due to weather or health issues. However, it’s best to use this method as a stepping stone to going outside because urine leaking from the newspapers is always a possibility.

3. Schedule Training

Schedule training involves taking the dog outside to use the bathroom at set times throughout the day. This method can be effective for dogs with a consistent routine and can be trained to hold their bladder until the designated time.

It is important to note that every dog is different and may require a different method for potty training. Owners should be patient and consistent in their training approach to ensure success.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take To Bell-train a Puppy?

The time it takes to bell-train a puppy varies depending on the breed and the individual dog’s temperament. Some puppies can learn in a few days, while others may take several weeks. Consistency is key, and it’s important to be patient and persistent.

How Do You Bell-train a One-Year-Old Old Dog?

Bell training a one-year-old dog is similar to training a puppy. The process involves hanging a bell on the door and ringing it whenever you take the dog outside to potty. Over time, the dog will associate the bell sound with going outside. It’s important to be consistent and patient with the training process.

At What Age Should You Bell-train A Puppy?

It’s recommended to start bell training a puppy as soon as they come home. Puppies have a shorter attention span, so it’s easier to train them when young. Bell training can also help establish a routine for the puppy and prevent accidents in the house.

Can You Bell-train A Dog In An Apartment?

Yes, bell training can be done in an apartment. It’s a great way to teach the dog to signal when they need to go outside, especially if there is no direct access to a yard. It’s important to choose a bell that is loud enough to hear throughout the apartment.

Can You Train Your Dog to Ring a Bell for a Treat?

We don’t recommend training your dog to ring a bell for a treat. Treats should be rewards that incentivise a dog to follow commands, not something they get whenever they want. You should instead train your dog to ring a bell WITH a treat. 

Final Thoughts

Training a dog to use a bell to signal when they need to go outside can be a helpful tool for both the dog and the owner. While it may take some time and patience, the result can be worth it.

It’s important to remember that every dog is different and may learn at their own pace. Consistency and positive reinforcement are key to success. It’s also important to keep in mind that bell training may not work for every dog, and there are alternativ-e-archive methods to consider

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

Author

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.