Your dog is going to love her potty bells.
It’s amazingly empowering for her when she has a clever and reliable way to get your attention.
You’re going to be pretty impressed when she rings her bell and patiently stares at you, waiting for you to take her for a potty trip.
Using potty bells is your dog’s first lesson in communicating with you. When she learns this skill, she will feel closer to you, knowing she can depend on you to understand her needs.
You can start this training with any pup or adult dog. It only takes a few sessions for most dogs to catch on.
Why You Might Decide To Use Potty Bells
When I was having trouble potty training Matilda, potty bells made it so much easier.
She would often sneak off and have accidents. Since she was used to using potty pads, as we lived in an area where it wasn’t always possible for me to take her out, she hadn’t really learned to communicate her needs.
Any small dog may have trouble getting attention when they need it. Their subtle signals may go unnoticed.
Potty bells are easy for anyone to understand, particularly if you plan to have a pet sitter who may not immediately pick up on your dog’s signals.
The Downsides Of Potty Bells
Your dog might abuse the potty bells. She might start ringing them whenever she wants to go outside and sniff.
However, this is a habit that can be easily mitigated by taking the steps below.
Potty bells can be loud. You may not want to have them in an apartment building if your neighbors are especially sensitive to noise, or if someone in your household works nights and sleeps during the day.
If potty bells are too loud, you can try Paws2Go, an electronic potty bell button that sends an alert to your phone. It also lights up. You can choose to make it silent.
Overall, I think potty bells are useful for just about anyone. If you end up disliking them, it’s easy to bridge the behavior into a different potty signal.
Step 1: Get A Potty Bell
It needs to always be available for your dog to ring.
Install the potty bell on the door you use to take your dog out. If you have multiple doors, you can get multiple bells.
I recommend the Original Potty Bells because they are long enough for short dogs to reach, and they have a snap so you can hang them anywhere and take them with you on-the-go.
When You Don’t Have A Potty Bell
You do not necessarily need to have a potty bell to teach your dog to communicate when she needs to go outside.
You can also have her spin, bark, or do anything to get your attention. The principles are the same: you must have your dog complete the action right before you take her outside.
However, you can hear potty bells from another room. This makes it easy for your dog to get your attention when you’re not closeby.
Step 2: Train Your Dog To Ring The Potty Bell
When you first install the bell, lure your dog near it with some treats. Give her a treat whenever she approaches the bell. Praise her for the tiniest jingle.
Small dogs might be afraid of loud, scary bells – at first. Once your dog discovers the power they will have over you when they ring the bells, they will lose their fear very fast!
At this stage, just make sure your dog knows how to use the bell. She will choose to either tap it with her paws or her nose.
Using a command is optional – your end goal is for the dog to ring the bell on their own, without a command. But it may be easier for you to get the dog to use the bell if you say a command at first.
You can say, “Bell!” or “Ring!” and then praise your dog when they jingle their bell.
Once your dog seems to have a bell-ringing method down, move on to the next step.
Step 3: Have Your Dog Ring Before You Go Outside
Now that your dog knows how to use the bell, command her ring it immediately before you take her outside.
Do not give her any more treats for ringing. Instead, provide an immediate cause-and-effect by opening the door the moment they ring.
Phase out the command as your dog begins to ring the bell on her own. Be consistent. Take the dog out EVERY TIME she rings the bell. Even if she hits it by mistake. Even if you just took her out.
It will not take long for your dog to realize that whenever she rings the bell, you will take her outside.
Should You Ignore Excessive Ringing?
When your dog realizes that you take her out every time her bell rings, she will ring the heck out of that bell.
She will ring it when she sees a squirrel, and when she wants to go out and play.
If you have an excessive ringer, make sure that when you take her out, you are on potty duty only.
Do not let her chase squirrels, and do not let her play. Each bell ring results in a trip to her potty spot, or a quick potty walk – not a free-for-all outdoor playtime.
If your dog rings when you only just took her out, she could just need to poop again.
She could even have a urinary tract infection, causing her to need to pee many times – she’ll need to be treated by a vet, in that case.
Only ignore your dog’s ringing if you’re sure she won’t have an accident, and if you know she just wants to chase the birds outside.