Training a Dog to Use a Bell on a String

By ringing a bell your dog can communicate with you.
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Observing your dog is part of the housebreaking process and can help prevent accidents. When your furry pal gets restless and starts pacing, circling, sniffing, whining, barking or scratching at the door, you can take him to his potty area to do his business. If you can't consistently watch your dog, teaching him to ring a bell when he has to relieve himself can be an option. With patience and consistency, you can have a bell-ringing dog in no time.

Step 1

Tie a piece of string to a bell, such as a small cowbell or a bunch of Christmas bells, and show it to your dog. Wiggle it on the floor or in front of his nose. Then, say "get it" and the moment he sniffs and investigates the bell, say "good bell" and give him a treat. Do this several times and always praise and reward him so he starts associating the bell with pleasant things happening.

Step 2

Hang the bell on the door so it's at a height where your dog can touch it with his nose or paw. Each time you take him to go potty, say "get it" and point at the bell. If he rings it, praise and a treat are in order before you take him to go potty. If he doesn't do anything, hold a treat near the bell so he touches it and rings it when he goes for the treat. Alternatively, ring the bell yourself to set the example, and then, take him to go potty.

Step 3

Encourage your dog to ring the bell each time you take him to go potty. If he refuses, ring the bell yourself for several days, or manually move the bell toward his nose to make it ring. Say "good bell" and give him a treat each time he rings the bell even if you have to help him.

Step 4

Smear a dollop of peanut butter on the bell as another way to tempt your furry pal into touching it. Before you take him outside to go potty, say "get it" and when he licks at the peanut butter and rings the bell, say "good bell" and lavishly praise him each time. Eventually stop using the peanut butter and just give the "get it" command followed by praise and a treat for ringing the bell. Then, take him to the potty area.


  • After ringing the bell, only take your dog to the potty area. You don't want him to associate the bell with play time, because otherwise he might ring it each time he wants to go outside to play.

An Item You Will Need

  • Dog treats