How to Teach a Dog to Be Housebroken Using a Bell

by Kristina de la Cal
    Teaching your dog to ring the potty bell is a proven house-training method.

    Teaching your dog to ring the potty bell is a proven house-training method.

    Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images

    Does your dog have potty accidents in the house? The most crucial part of housebreaking is teaching your pooch how to alert you when he needs to go out for a potty break. Training your dog to ring the potty alarm using a bell is an effective house training method.

    Step 1

    Get the bell ready. Choose the door that you will consistently use to let your pooch out to his elimination area and hang a jingly bell from the knob. Use a long piece of string or rope to adjust the length as needed so that it is low enough for your dog to touch it with his nose or paw. The bell should jingle loudly enough that you can hear it clearly from the next room.

    Step 2

    Introduce your pooch to the bell. Walk your dog up to the door and gently jingle the bell, while enthusiastically saying “outside,” “potty” or some other verbal cue. Then using your hand, guide your pooch’s nose or paw to touch the bell so that it jingles while you repeat your chosen verbal cue with enthusiasm. If your dog successfully rings the bell without your guidance, praise him for a job well done and immediately reward him with a tasty treat. Repeat this step a few times before opening the door to let your furry friend outside.

    Step 3

    Reward your pooch for going potty outside. Once you've jingled the bell and are outside with your dog, give him another verbal cue like “go potty” and wait about five minutes for him to do his business. If he eliminates in the appropriate area within that time, immediately reinforce his good behavior by praising him enthusiastically and giving him a tasty treat. If he does not eliminate within that time, take him back inside and either put him in a crate or have him lie down where you can monitor him before trying again 20 minutes later.

    Step 4

    Practice makes perfect. Repeat the entire process each time your dog needs a potty break. If your pooch has an accident inside the house and you catch him in the act, interrupt him with a firm “no” and immediately take him to the door, jingle the bell while saying “outside” and take him to his elimination area. If you do not catch your dog in the act, do not reprimand him for it because he is not likely to make the connection after the fact.

    Items You Will Need

    • Jingle bell
    • String or rope
    • Dog treats


    • Take your pooch to the same potty spot every time so that it becomes routine and he learns to associate that area with elimination.
    • Dogs are likely to need a potty break after certain activities like waking from a nap, eating a meal, drinking a large amount of water, or periods of high activity. Take your pooch to the door at these critical times and ask if he needs to go outside.


    • Never strike your dog or rub his nose in waste. Punishment is an ineffective method of housebreaking and will likely cause your dog to fear you.

    Photo Credits

    • Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Kristina de la Cal is a full-time teacher who has been freelance writing since 1991. She published her first book, “Breaking up without Breaking Down," in 2007 and specializes in a variety of topics including, but not limited to, relationships and issues in education. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Florida International University.

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