Potty Training Signals – The Bell Method


A key potty training challenge is establishing an unmistakable way for your dog to tell you that it’s time to go outside. The signal needs to be obvious. One signalling method that is easily taught and successful uses a bell.

digital visualization of a jingle bell


  1. A bell that can hang on your doorknob. This needs to hang down to your dog’s level, but can be any size or style or bell. Large jingle bells are easy to come by during the holiday season.
  2. Plenty of soft treats. If you use a hard treat it slows down training time as you have to wait for your dog to chew. The faster the repetitions the quicker they learn.

Training Process

  1. Teach your dog the “touch” command.
  2. Teach your dog to “touch” the bell.
    • To start, it may be best to tape the bell so that it does not ring. Ringing may frighten your dog. Use the “touch” command until your dog is touching the bell reliably.
    • Remove the tape from the bell and say, “Touch.” When your pup touches it, say “good touch,’ and reward the behavior. Make a big deal out of this, and give lots of treats and praise.
    • Hang the bell on the door used most often to go outside to potty, and have your dog touch the bell a couple of times to be sure that he is comfortable with the sound.
    • Once the dog touches the bell reliably, add a new word. Point at the bell and say, “Outside.”
    • When your pup rings the bell then you respond with “Good outside,” open the door and go out. Repeat this step a few more times. Remember that you want to let your dog know that he has achieved something incredible. So lots of praise and rewards.
    • Every time you take your dog outside to potty, go to the door say, “Outside, Potty”. Once your dog rings the bell, reward him and and take him to his potty spot. In no time your dog will understand that if he needs to go out, he just needs to ring the bell.

Of course, it is very important that you respond when your dog rings the potty bell. If you don’t, your dog will not reliably use this signalling method.

This method is simple and painless! Now you can get on with the behaviors that are more fun.  Your dog now knows the words “touch”, “outside”, “potty”, “play” and “good”.

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