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Teaching Your Dog to Ask to Go Out

(continued)

How to Teach Your Dog to Ring a Bell to Go Out continued...

Plan to practice Step Two with your dog for three to five days, just like you practiced Step One.

Step Three: Teaching Your Dog to Ring the Bell at the Right Time

Now you can put your plan into action. When you need take your dog outside for a potty break, ask her to touch the bells with her nose right before you open the door.

  1. Approach the door with your dog. Say “Touch,” and point to the bells.
  2. The moment she touches the bells with her nose, say “YES!” Then open the door and let your dog go outside.

Ask your dog to ring the bells every time you take her out. With repetition, your dog will learn that she has to touch the bells with her nose to make you open the door. So when she wants to go outside, she’ll go to the door and ring the bells. The first time this happens, praise your dog enthusiastically and immediately let her outside. You can also give her a few tasty treats after she eliminates, just to make sure she understands that you love it when she rings the bells to ask to go out to potty.

Troubleshooting

Playtime vs. Potty Time

Once they discover that bell ringing makes the door open, many clever dogs ring the bells whenever they’d like go outside-even when they don’t need to eliminate. If this sounds like your dog, you can teach her that bell ringing is only about potty breaks. When she rings the bell to go out, praise her, clip on her leash and take her directly to the place where you’d like her to eliminate. Don’t play with her. Just give her three to five minutes to urinate or defecate. If she does, great! Praise her again and give her a few treats before taking her back in. If she doesn’t eliminate, just take her back inside.

My Dog’s Still Eliminating Inside!

If you teach your dog to ring the bell to go out but she still makes mistakes inside, you might have a separate problem on your hands. It might not be that your dog doesn’t know how to tell you she needs to go out to eliminate. Instead, she might not fully understand that she should go out to eliminate. If you think this might be the case, please see one of our articles on house training for help: House Training Your Adult Dog or House Training Your Puppy.

Additional Tips

There are several dog door bell products on the market. Some have multiple bells on a strip of fabric and are hung over the door knob or on a hook next to your door. With these types of products, you train your dog to touch them with his nose to make them ring. Other products, such as the Tell Bell or the Lentek Pet Chime, are a single bell or mound that you put on the floor or mount on a wall. With these, you train your dog to push them with his paw. All of these products usually come with training instructions.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist

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