Skip to Content

Help! My Dog Won’t Stop Ringing Her Potty Bells All The Time… Even When She Doesn’t Have To Go Out

Help! My Dog Won’t Stop Ringing Her Potty Bells All The Time… Even When She Doesn’t Have To Go Out

Potty bells are a blessing and a curse… but mostly a blessing.

Without them, I’m not sure how I could have gotten the once-timid Matilda to let me know when she needed to go out.

Potty bells have opened other avenues of communication, too. When she first learned to use them, Matilda changed… she started to look to me for her needs, when she needed reassurance, and she started to become more creative about finding ways to earn her treats.

But… she certainly doesn’t need to go potty every time she rings them. Cow, who learned to use potty bells just by watching Matilda, also likes to abuse them.

So, how do you teach your dog to stop ringing the potty bells all the time, and only ring when she actually has to go potty?

Helpful Hint: If your potty bells are annoying, consider getting a Paws2Go electronic potty bell. You can make it silent, and it will still light up and alert you with a phone notification.

How To Tell If Your Dog Is Abusing Her Potty Bells

It’s tough to tell if your dog is ringing her potty bells in vain.

Sometimes, I’ll ignore someone’s ring, only for them to keep ringing every few minutes, and then when I finally try to take them out, it turns out they needed to unload a massive poop.

At other times, I’ll believe the ring, only for the ringer to sniff around for toads and not pee. I’m not naming names. Ok, it’s Cow. It’s always Cow.

Naturally, it’s better to take your dog out too often, than to ignore her rings and let her have an accident.

One rule of thumb: never take your dog out if she’s ringing in the midst of going crazy over a squirrel, mailman, whatever. Your dog must learn that erratic behavior is not going to lead to a walk.

Potty Trips Are For Potties

When your dog rings her bell, she needs to know that the end result is a quick potty trip. Not playtime, not time to hunt, sniff, or dilly-dally.

This is especially true if you’re still potty training.

Take your dog out for just a few minutes, and only go to her usual potty spot.

If you have a fenced backyard, you may still want to go out with her on a leash so you can make sure she does her business, and you can keep her from getting distracted. This isn’t always necessary, but it can help. Some dogs take longer to potty on a leash, though. There’s no need to over-complicate things – if letting her out is easier for potty breaks, that’s totally fine.

Adventure walks are so important for bonding, exercising, and stimulating your dog’s mind. Just be sure they don’t begin with your dog ringing her bell, or she may associate ringing her bell with a fun adventure.

Your Dog Is Bored… And That’s Fair

It’s almost inevitable that your dog will, sometimes, ring her bell without having to go potty. You can minimize instances by ignoring her rings, but if she’s truly bored, she’s going to keep ringing.

And that’s okay.

If my dogs are bored, if I’m getting too caught up in my work, I’m glad they have ways of letting me know.

When you think your dog is ringing her bell out of boredom, why not play with her indoors, give her a food puzzle toy, or play hide and seek?

You can tire your dog out with mental stimulation. You don’t have to go on a run to get your dog to relax.

It’s essential that you don’t start playing with your dog immediately after she rings the bell. You don’t want the bell to mean “let me out… or play with me!” Wait a few minutes before you start playing.

Should You Yell At Your Dog For Ringing The Potty Bells Too Much?

The clatter of potty bells can be grating. Especially when you already went out five minutes ago, and you just sat down to watch TV or get some work done.

I definitely snap at my dogs sometimes when they’re ringing like crazy and I’m already stressed.

And they look at me like they’re confused. Because they are.

When I’m stressed enough to snap at my dogs, that’s when we need a walk the most.

Sometimes, I need to swallow my pride and admit that my dogs know when we need a walk better than I do. Sometimes, it’s important to just trust them, and go for that walk… even if they don’t actually have to pee.

How you react to your dog abusing their potty bells will influence how they use them in the future.

If you call your dog away from it, she’ll know that even if she doesn’t get her walk, she can still use the bells to get your attention… and you know what, that’s not awful, but not desirable.

The best thing you can do about potty bell overuse is just ignore your dog. You can contain her to another room or put the bells away if she’s driving you nuts.

Dogs are smart. If you’re consistent in how you react to the bells (by ignoring her or going for a quick potty break,) she’ll pick up on it.

If you play with her, keep her entertained, and go for plenty of adventure walks, she won’t feel much of a need to abuse those potty bells.

#dogtraining What To Do When Your Dog Rings Her Potty Bells All The Time For No Reason

Lindsay Pevny
Lindsay Pevny lives to help pet parents make the very best choices for their pets by providing actionable, science-based training and care tips and insightful pet product reviews.

She also uses her pet copywriting business to make sure the best pet products and services get found online through catchy copy and fun, informative blog posts. She also provides product description writing services for ecommerce companies.

As a dog mom to Matilda and Cow, she spends most of her days taking long walks and practicing new tricks, and most nights trying to make the best of a very modest portion of her bed.

You'll also find her baking bread and making homemade pizza, laughing, painting and shopping.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Sunday 7th of January 2024

I have a new English lab puppy that is three months old. I’ve had her two days. Yesterday I got her used to a bell and then hung on my back door to teach her to ring it when she needs to go potty outside. She immediately caught on, and I awarded her with a morsel of puppy chow when she hit the bell with her noise. I praised her and she was her tail. She is mostly using the puppy pads to pee and poop with a few accicents off the pads. Today she is ringing it on and off and sitting by the back door pretty waiting for her treat. Sometimes she will ring it 3 to 5 times in a row after she’s already went pee on the pad. I know she’s a puppy training, but should I stop giving her the treats and take her outside every time she rings it before giving her a treat. Sometimes she will go pee when I take her out but most of the time when I set her on the grass she will sit and wait for a morsel of Puppy Chow. Do I keep training her this way and eventually she will get it to ring to go outside to use the bathroom. So far mypuppy will only go pee outside, and will only poop inside. I tried walking her around the yard but she just wants to grab leaves and throw them up in the air to catch. She seems to be very smart. Any tips on potty trading would be helpful.


Saturday 3rd of September 2022

This post didn’t exactly provide any new info.


Saturday 28th of December 2019

My terrier mix needed the bells in the beginning—she was so traumatized from her bad start in TN, before being rescued, that she wouldn’t speak. She was too scared to let me know when she needed to do her business outside. Of course her successful trip outside earned her 2 treats—now, although perfectly trained, I do believe that when she wants an extra treat she rings the bell to go out. She’ll do a little bit of pee pee, and run in—happily anticipating her treats. Did I mention how smart she is? Love that she has an extra way to communicate with me, and I’m totally ok with being scammed:-). If only she’d just sit by the counter, I’d also give her a treat. Just crazy about her—but I’m an all in animal sucker! So important to get them trained so they can live a happy and stress free life!!

Lindsay Pevny

Monday 30th of December 2019

I'm so glad potty bells worked for you and your girl! It's amazing that she's also able to scam extra treats from you. She'll probably love learning new skills for more opportunities to earn snacks, too. Once they learn how to make you happy, they never wanna stop!


Friday 1st of November 2019

I love this, Lindsay! Thanks for all the helpful tips. ?

It seems all the research I’ve come across in Google suggests the key for training our pups even in regards to potty training... is to keep patient, and keep things fun and lighthearted… which is some of what you seem to be saying here.

Being impatient and physically forcing your pup to obey has the complete opposite effect.

Anyway, after reading some of your posts, I trust your expert opinion and wonder if you have anything to add to/comment. Any feedback is appreciated.

Dan Matthews

Tuesday 29th of October 2019

This is a great article. My aussie is constantly pretending like he needs to go outside to potty, but really what he wants is to patrol. I've never thought of making potty time and walk/play time separate. He needs so much exercise every day that it's almost impossible to not blend the two, but I'm going to try this out and see what happens.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.