Potty Training Your New Puppy (With a Bell!)

I am bringing home my new puppy tomorrow and will start housebreaking her right away. The last puppy I raised, I used a bell to help with potty training and it worked out great! Before I go into more detail, let’s go through some main tips in housebreaking your pup:

  • Be aware! Puppies have to go to the bathroom, A LOT. When they wake up, they will need to go to the bathroom; after they eat, they will need to go to the bathroom; after they play, they will need to go to the bathroom. So be aware, especially the first couple of weeks of what they are doing and when you should probably take them outside to go potty.
  • Act quickly! If you think your puppy has to go to the bathroom, get them outside as quick as possible because, especially at first, they will not be able to hold it very well at all. If your puppy all of a sudden stops what they’re doing and starts sniffing around, that probably means they have to go potty so make sure to get them outside. Better safe than sorry!
  • Be consistent. Your puppy should start getting into a routine that they can stick to and trust. If you take them out right away when you get home (which you should!) make sure that you do it every time so that they will be able to depend on that and learn to trust that you will let them out. It is also helpful to have a phrase you use every time such as, “ let’s go outside,” and “go potty.” By being consistent with your wording, you’re puppy will learn faster because they will see it as a command.
  • Lots of praise! It is very important to be encouraging to them while they are training. When they start to go to the bathroom, wait until they are finished (if you start praising right away they might get distracted and stop), and then praise away! Make a big deal about it and make sure they know that going to the bathroom outside is a good thing and will give them attention and praise from you.
  • Discipline at the right time! When the puppy has an accident (yes, it will happen) make sure you discipline them right away. If you find an accident 10 minutes after it happens, and then discipline, your puppy will most likely not know exactly why they are being disciplined. When you catch them having an accident, discipline (by sternly saying “No!” or “Stop!”) and then immediately put them outside and use your word phrases, “go potty,” to show them that they need to do it in the appropriate place. Once outside, praise and say in a “happy” voice, “go potty” “good boy/girl!.”

Now that we have some basics laid out, here is how to train your puppy with a bell:

Go to the local craft store and get some ribbon and some bells. Any type of bell works, just as long as it makes sound that you can hear! Now, tie or loop the ribbon around the door handle to the door that goes outside. Make sure the bell(s) are at a level that the puppy will have to raise it’s nose to, to ring it. You don’t want it too low where it’s like a toy or a foot could get caught in the ribbon. If you have a sliding glass door, you can also hang it next to the door on a tack or nail.

Every time you take your puppy outside, take their nose or paw and hit the bell so that it makes noise. They will start associating touching the bell to make the noise as the door opening and they can then go outside to go potty.

It’s as simple as that! Dogs are very smart and learn very quickly and before you know it, your puppy will be ringing the bell to alert you that they need to go outside. Make sure to praise when they ring the bell as well so they know that that is what you want them to do.

What other housebreaking tactics have you used?

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7 thoughts on “Potty Training Your New Puppy (With a Bell!)

  1. Thanks so much Lauren…have been looking for your kind of expertise (skills/talents and passion for dogs) as I pursue adopting a shelter dog here in Florida: unfortunately (for the dogs here) and fortunately for (me) there are many who need loving homes as the result of hurricaines and much animal abuse…look forward to your blogs…the bell training is great!

      • I will continue to keep in touch with your blogs and those people also following…do let us see some pictures when your busy schedule allows..what happens to the brothers and sisters? You must have to hand-pick any potential owners…

  2. Bells. Hahaha. I had to remove them. The dogs are smart and quickly trained ME. They ring the bell, I come running. It even got so that Mira, the one I consider the brightest, figured out that if she rang the bell, the other two dogs would run to the door since outside was fun. Mira used this trick when some other dog was sleeping on”her” bed. Then, rather than go outside, she would merely reclaim “her” bed. Aarrg.

    • That was very funny and you have very clever and smart dogs…however I think Lauren’s program is an excellent idea/maybe in your case better with 1:1 training than with 3 dogs in close proximity (at least I am inyerpreting that)…somehow make certain the dog understands that the bell is for poddy training only and perhaps re-inforce the good or desired behavior with a “treat”.

  3. Hi Lauren!

    Thanks for this great blog! I considered using bells to potty train my Papillon, but she learned to whine at me when she needed to pee. Still, I might try bells since she sometimes doesnt’ whine loudly enough for me to hear her if I’m in the other room!

    I’m interested in adopting a Saluki but cant’ seem to find any in the Middle East or that will ship to the Middle East, ironically enough. Do you know of any by chance?

    Also, do you know how they are with small dogs?

    Thank you!

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