How to Use a Dog Potty Training Bell

by Sydney Hess

When nature calls them, a dog potty bell can help call you to the rescue.

It’s not uncommon for new (or seasoned) dog owners to miss the signs and signals that your dog needs to go out to potty. And we all know the pain of seeing your beloved pup unexpectedly squatting on your favorite rug. Frequent potty accidents come with guilt and frustration, and sometimes it seems like dogs give absolutely no warning. If your dog is going potty inside more than outside, potty bells may be the key to helping your dog better communicate when they need to go. 

Potty bells are great for helping potty train puppies, but are also incredibly useful for senior pets. 

To successfully train potty bells, you’ll need:

- A set of potty bells! Potty bells can be purchased online and are fairly inexpensive, but you can also DIY them with a few bells and some string or ribbon. 

- Something your dog finds high-value. This may be food, a tug toy, etc. Sundays makes a great high-value reward! 

- A clicker. While not completely necessary, clickers are proven to help speed up learning. 

How to Use a Dog Potty Bell

Once you have a set of bells, you’ll want to introduce your dog to them. Some dogs may be sensitive to the sound, so make this experience as positive as possible. Set the bells on the ground and let your dog explore, click as soon as they interact with them and reward your dog immediately after. You can even scatter food around the bells for your dog to sniff out if they need extra incentive! A good motto to keep in mind while training is click, reward, repeat! During this initial step, be sure to shake the bells a bit so they can hear the sound.

When you are confident that your dog is comfortable with the bells, place them on a door. Ask your dog to interact with them again. If they paw or boop the bells, click and reward heavily! This is also known as a “jackpot” reward. It is where you give multiple consecutive treats to show your dog that you loved what they just did! If you are using a toy reward, pause and  jackpot reward with a good game of tug. 

Be consistent and patient while your dog becomes more confident in this new method of communication. Every time you go outside with your dog, either let them ring the bells or ring them yourself before letting them out. We want our dogs to associate the sound of the bells with going outside, so consistency is essential! 

Potty bells wouldn’t be very helpful if our dogs only ring them when prompted to, we want this to be an independent behavior from them. Jackpot reward every time your dog rings the bell by themselves. If they are willing to shape this behavior on their own it will be even more reliable, so always encourage independent thinking!  

If your dog has an indoor accident during this process, don’t be discouraged! Interrupt the accident if you’re able to, and ring the bells on your way to take them outside. 

If you are weeks into the process and your dog still won’t use the bells, consider other alternatives. Some dogs may prefer buttons instead of bells! Buttons that make a sound will serve the same purpose.

Best of luck and happy training!

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