Bell Training Puppy Techniques: Dos and Don’ts

Laura Day

April 8, 2019

Bell Training Puppy TechniquesSo, let me get this straight. You can teach your pup to ring a bell as part of his potty training to let you know that he needs to go to the bathroom? Apparently, this is a thing, and it seems like a bigger accomplishment than I’ve made all year.

Training your dog to ring a bell with his nose is a simple and effective way for your puppy to let his human friends know that he needs to go outside…right now! This trick is used as a replacement for your pup barking, whining, or scratching at the door, all of which are not entirely pleasant, and can stress out both you and your puppy. Let’s take a look at some dos and don’ts when it comes to training a pup how to ring a bell.

Bell Training Dos

  • Using a command: It is incredibly useful to use a command when getting your dog used to the bell and establishing what he’s supposed to do with it. Most people use the word “touch” or “bell” when turning this action into a command. Puppies respond well to structure, and having a command indicates to them what they are supposed to do and when. Once your pup gets the message that “touch” or “bell” is associated with touching the bell with his nose (or paw), this is your first big hurdle cleared.
  • Practice in 10 to 15-minute increments: Puppies best absorb information in small doses, so keep your training sessions short. You can always come back to it later. You want your training sessions to be fun and engaging for your puppy, rather than a tedious lesson that goes on and on. We don’t want anybody falling asleep here. Do your 10 to 15 minutes, and come back an hour or two later—not so long in between that your pup will completely forget what he’s learned, but long enough so that he has a chance to think it’s exciting again.
  • The “potty bell” is only to go potty: Make sure your pup knows that training a puppy with a bell is for using the potty only and not for any other reason. We obviously want our puppies to have fun and play outside, but when it comes to potty training with the bell, you have to be regimented about them going out, doing their business, and heading right back in afterward. If your pup connects the bell to playtime, he would be ringing it nonstop! Let your pup out to play at a time where he hasn’t even approached the bell. This will make sure that he knows that he will get outdoor playtime, just not when the bell is rung. To train a puppy effectively, you can start with potty pads and slowly work up to him going outside to do his business.
  • Teach in a three-step process: This trick has the highest success rate when done in a three-step process, and your pup needs to nail every one before moving onto the next. After all, the idea of ringing a bell to go potty is certainly far from a dog’s natural instinct (and mine). Start with your pup successfully touching the bell on command, move to ring the bell at the door, and wrap it up by teaching your pup to ring only before going to the bathroom.

Bell Training Don’ts

Start off with a bell that’s too loud to potty train

  • Start off with a bell that’s too loud to potty train: Newsflash! Dogs don’t like loud noises. So, how can you get around this? You want to be able to hear the bell from anywhere in the house so you can run to your pup’s rescue as soon as possible. The reality is, the noise of the bell will probably startle him more than anything. While it is a dream to be able to hear your pup ring a bell from a mile away, it’s likely not going to be realistic at first. Start with some jingle bells that don’t make a lot of noise, or wrap material such as cloth or tape around the bell to make it quieter. Make it so you can hardly hear it at first, and then gradually work your way to a louder sound. The key is to not make your pup afraid of the bell. You want him to give those bells a zealous punch with his nose or paw, and not go scurrying under the bed after.
  • Not rewarding after they go outside, especially during potty training a puppy: I’ll say it once, and I’ll say again: dogs are incredibly food motivated. Always, always verbally praise your puppy, but follow up with a treat which he loves and it offers positive reinforcement. Not every dog likes to go outside. If not rewarded, a puppy could definitely just end up hating this whole process. Who wants to ring a bell, just to be forced to go somewhere you don’t want to go, with no treat to back it up? Not me.
  • Expecting too much too soon: This is going to be a process, so try not to push it. When you first start to potty train a puppy, he will not be ringing the bell to go outside after the first day, or after the second day. It will take a long time to get the idea of what this whole bell thing is supposed to achieve. You have to make sure that you slowly introduce him to the “dog doorbell” and helping him understand that it’s not something to be afraid of (but also that it’s not just a new chew toy). Start by giving your puppy a treat every time he touches the bell with his nose, and gradually go from there.
  • Thinking that your dog’s not the right “type” to learn: Your pup does not have to be a specific dog breed to learn how to do this trick. Don’t underestimate your pup’s ability to learn a new trick, no matter what size or breed! If both you and your puppy set your mind to it, he can learn any trick. This one is all about practice and patience no matter the size or breed, and will be incredibly worth it in the end.

Some of these steps might sound complicated as a way to teach your dog, but they’re really not so bad. If you are willing to be patient with your pup and take him through the necessary steps, there’s no reason why he can’t learn. This will be a great way to further your positive training technique with your pup and strengthen your bond even more in the process. Above all, potty training your puppy isn’t as difficult as you think. And once he is used to ringing the bell when he is desperate to go, you know that there won’t be any more unwanted parcels waiting for you each morning.


Bringing a new family addition into the home is extremely exciting! Becoming a new puppy parent comes with a ton of new joys, challenges and responsibilities. PupBox was created to help new puppy parents like yourself, by providing all of the toys, treats, accessories and training information you need, when you need it. CLICK HERE to learn more about PupBox.


And remember, puppyhood is fast and is gone before you know it. Make sure to savor the time when your pup is young, and take lots of pictures along the way!