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Teach Your Dog to Ring a Bell

By Valerie V Tynes, DVM, DACVB
Published by Veterinary Medicine Magazine April 2007
Housetraining some dogs can be especially challenging because they do not learn to clearly signal when they need to eliminate.  Teaching a dog to ring a bell when it needs to go outside can be a huge help when housetraining.  It takes time, but is relatively simple if you follow the following steps:
1. Purchase a small bell, and set it near the door through which you usually take your dog out for elimination.  Ring the bell immediately before opening the door to go outside with the dog.  Your dog should already be leashed so that you can step outside with her as soon as you ring the bell.  Do this every time you take your dog outside for several days.  Allow your dog to only explore the designated elimination area,  otherwise your dog may associate ringing the bell with play time instead.

2. Next, suspend the bell at the height of your dog’s nose right next to the door.  Gently touch the bell to your dog’s nose, causing it to ring, every time you take her outside.  Repeat this step for several days.

3. At this point, depending on how quickly your dog makes associations, she may begin approaching the bell on her own when she needs to eliminate.  If she doesn’t smear a little bit of cheese or peanut butter on the bell each time you prepare to go outside, and use this to lure your dog toward the bell.  Allow your dog to lick the bell, causing it to ring, and then praise your dog as soon as you take her outside

Once your dog begins ringing the bell on her own, you must take her outside every time so that she learns tha making the bell ring reliably predicts being let outside.


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