Teaching your dog to ring the bell if they want to go out is a great way to have a built-in reminder for when it is time to let them out for a potty. This can be especially helpful for older dogs, or those with medical conditions that require frequent potty breaks.
Once they have the basics of ringing the bell down, you can bring a spare bell on a string with you when you travel so that your dog can bring their trick with them to hotels or when visiting friends and family. It is a great trick for adding some consistency to the sometimes stressful environment of new places.
You can train younger dogs to do this behavior as well. The trick with older dogs is simply to be more patient and do plenty of repetitions before moving to the next training step in order to make the training session about success and confidence building. It is a myth that old dogs can’t learn new tricks, but sometimes they do need a little more patience.
Prevent accidents! This trained behavior will help you prevent your older dog from having accidents in the house by giving them a way to give you a clear signal that it is time to go out, without wining or pawing at the door.
Once you have taught them the basics of the trick, you can make it a requirement for going outside.
What you will find is that in time, once ringing the bell is a requirement before going out, your dog will ring it on their own when they are ready. You don’t actually have to teach this last step, your dog will just naturally do it when they have had enough prompting and practice.
If you use a clicker to train your dog, then make sure to have that and some small treats handy. If you don’t use a clicker, just make a special sound or word to “mark” the behavior you want at each step, always followed promptly by a reward.
The instructions below may take several sessions to accomplish. Be sure to start at the last step your dog mastered for lots of practice at the start of a new session before trying to move on to a new step. This builds confidence and keeps your dog engaged in learning.