View Full Version : how do you teach puppies to use bell?

17th December 2006, 05:19 PM
My puppy is 14 weeks old and crate trained. She is very good about going out, and only has the odd accident when I have been distracted and not vigilant about taking her outside.

I would ultimately like to train her to use a bell to alert me to when she needs to go outside, and wonder how old she would need to be and how does one go about it. Also, how does one make the transition from controlling when she goes out and when she lets one know she needs to go...

I'd be very grateful for any tips!

17th December 2006, 05:51 PM
We posted a bell by the door (hanging from a ribbon), and we'd touch Posey's paw to it each time we'd take her outside. We'd heap praise on her ('good bell!'), even if we'd helped her do it. Then we'd get very excited about going outside. ("yay, good bell! outside!")

I think it was just a few days (maybe a week), before she ventured over and....just....barely touched her nose to it. It didn't actually ring, but we heaped praise on her. We kept making sure she swiped it with her paw before we'd take her out, and she quickly picked up on it and started ringing it herself more often than we were ringing it with her.

Then—when she was about 7 months old—she started her adolescent rebellion phase, and started ringing the bell when she'd want to go out (yay!), when we were making dinner and she didn't feel like enough attention was being paid to her (uh oh), and when she wanted to go outside and find a stick/run around like a madwoman/check out the weather (ummm...it's COLD out there).

She was doing this at work, too—ringing her bell every twenty minutes, even if I knew she'd done all of her business, just so I'd play with her or take her upstairs to play with the other office dogs. After a few days of spending most of my time outdoors (when she'd ring it, I'd dutifully take her out, she'd get five minutes with me trailing her, urging her to go potty, then back inside), I'd take away the bell after she'd abuse it once, and put it back once she'd forgotten about it. Without a bell, she'd amuse herself or cuddle on my lap. Then I realized she was fine waiting for me to take her out, when I forgot to put the bell back after an hour or so, and she didn't have any accidents.

So it was her overzealous use of the bell that led to her transitioning to not needing it (at least at work—we still leave it up at home, where we've got a fenced yard and it's easy to let her pop out, even to play for a bit). She definitely knows it means the door opens, so it's been handy when we visit my mother-in-law—as long as she knows where the bell is, she's accident free.

17th December 2006, 05:58 PM
Do you have a routine for going out for potty breaks? The best way to teach a pup to use a bell is to incorporate it into an established routine. For example, here's our routine:
* "Whaaaaaaat?" - said when they're looking at me and I can tell it's time for a potty break.
* "Are you ready?" - said as I approach the door where the leashes are stored and wait for them to sit nicely.
* "Let's go!" - said after leashes are on and we're about to exit.
* "Get busy!" - said when we get to the designated potty spot.
* Good busy!" - said as they are in the act of...well...you know!

For me, the goal is to have them ring the bell when they need to go out, rather than me guessing it's time. The bell would replace/delete the first two steps of our routine.

But first they have to learn "Ring the bell." You can put peanutbutter on the bell and they'll be sure to make it ring as they lick it off. Or you can hold kibble in your hand behind the bell so that as they're trying to access the kibble, they'll have to ring the bell. Either way, I keep saying "Ring the bell," or just "bell." Of course, at first they'll only accidentally ring the bell, but I still make a big deal, and give them a small treat as we immediately exit.

When they figure out that ringing the bell gets them attention and a treat, give them the treat after you're outside. Each time, delay the treat longer until you're treating at the potty spot. If they already know that when they get to this particular spot they're supposed to "get busy," that's what they'll naturally do once they get there...so you're just adding a treat at that time to reinforce the connection between the bell and potty spot.

Clear as mud?

17th December 2006, 08:38 PM
Thanks so much. Can't wait to go and buy a bell - perhaps we can find one from a cracker!

17th December 2006, 08:42 PM
I used to just hang bells on a cord but the dogs chewed the cords. The ones from this website hold up really well. My dogs and my cats all use them and after over 2 years, they look like new. I love the selection in colors and have bought them as gifts for new pups too. They also have training tips on their website.


18th December 2006, 08:01 AM
wow! I love the website - now to find where I can get one in the UK! V useful training tips etc. I'm so grateful to you all.

18th December 2006, 12:23 PM
You can also use the type of bell some places have on the counter. It's easy for the dogs to hit their paw on. :roll:

18th December 2006, 12:29 PM
We actually took the bell from a bird toy and hung it from a plant holder hook - it's a metal chain witha bell on the end, so she can chew on it all she wants to make it ring and it's still in fine shape (and chew on it she does, when she really wants outside!).

We did the same as others - just use her nose or paw to ring the bell before taking her out - we started doing it a day or so after we brought her home, and she learned it super quick!

Good luck!

18th December 2006, 12:43 PM
you know now that you mention it we've talked about bell training Kosmo..

I remember the first week or so of puppy class (most puppies were about 4 months) when the trainer explained bell training she cautioned that as SOON as you hear that bell you absolutely must stop everything you're doing and sprint to the door. Before they make the connection bell = outside = pee they will ring and pee so you gotta be fast!

That being said I guess I've just been too lazy to bell train Kos because I take him out every few hours regardless if he has to go or not. Usually he gives me a little even if it's just a drop though. He's such a charm. :)

Take care and good luck! :flwr:

Cicero's Mummy
18th December 2006, 01:36 PM
I once happened upon the cutest idea when web-shopping for bells. It was a doggie doorbell. You placed it on the floor near where the doggie would go out and the dog would step on it to let you know it was time. It would either make a chime or a "woof woof" sound. It was hecka cute! It kinda resembled those push lights that people put in thier cabnets that give off a soft glow... does that make any sence... if I find the website, I'll link it....


edited to add...

18th December 2006, 05:04 PM
ok this may sound a silly question especially as i dont intend to use the bell technique (well not yet !!)but who knows in the future!!! but if you have trained your pup to ring the bell :D and then he has trained you to come running ;) ......what happens when you are out? :? i know you will have an answer to this as so many of you seem to use this method but i cant quite make it out. :? are they trained to hold it in already until you get back and then they ring the bell or what? :sl*p: and if they do hold out until you are back then you have already trained them to hold it in and that they dont need to tell you when to go as they will go when you let them out!!! told you it was a silly question icon_whistling

19th December 2006, 01:35 PM
We got Laci at about 10 weeks. I put a good size jingle bell on a small hook and string right next to the door, way down low. I took her out every 1 1/2 to 2 hours and always took her paw and hit the bell just as we were going out. If she did something she got a treat when we got back in, if she didn't do anything, no treat this trip. I was extremely consistant and it was exactly 6 weeks and she rang the bell on her own. I was so excited I nearly forgot to get her outside! She has used the bell every since. When she was a pup we always crated her if we were leaving, taking her out just before we left (swiping the bell as we went out) and then always as soon as we got back. Now she is just over 2 years and very trustworthy. She usually only goes out 3 or 4 times a day and always rings the bell to let us know. When we travel I take a board with a bell attached to it and sit it next to the hotel or condo door, take her paw and swipe the bell then take her out.. just so she know where the bell is and that the same rule applies as at home.

I cant' say that she's ever rang the bell when we are out. But again, if I know we are going to be gone for any lenght of time, and she hasn't been out for awhile before we leave, I take her. When we get back, if she needs to go, she'll ring the bell and tell me. I love the bell. With work and kids and all that goes with that, If I'm busy and she needs to go out, there is not doubt about it... she rings the bell. The only down side.. in the spring when the weather starts to get really nice, she'll decide she want to go out and enjoy the nice weather so she rings the bell sometimes when she doesn't need to go potty. That can be frustrating. After about 3 trips out one day with no pottying, I just told her NO when she rang the bell, and made her go lay in her bed. She backed off the fake ringing after that.


19th December 2006, 08:27 PM
Both of mine just bang on the doorstop. The older one taught herself and the younger copies everything she does. They also do that when they know it's 5 o'clock and time to eat!

How do I put a photo up???

19th December 2006, 08:28 PM
See the Getting Started section for info on pics, avatars, what is appropriate to post, libel info, etc. :thmbsup: