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Healthy Dogs

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Teaching Your Dog to Ask to Go Out

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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.

Help Is Available

If you’d like one-on-one help training your dog to ask to go outside, don’t hesitate to contact a qualified professional, such as a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT), for guidance.  Please see our article, Finding Professional Help, to locate an expert near you.


WebMD Veterinary Reference from ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist

The ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist specializes in the resolution and management of pet behavior problems only. Please do not submit questions about medical problems here. Only licensed veterinarians can diagnose medical conditions. If you think that your pet is sick, injured or experiencing any kind of physical distress, please contact his veterinarian immediately. A delay in seeking proper veterinary care may worsen your pet's condition and put his life at risk. If you are concerned about the cost of veterinary care, please read our resources on finding financial help.
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