Teach Your Dog to Let You Know When He Needs to Go Out

Does your dog like to learn new tricks? Wouldn’t it be nice if your dog could let you know when he needs to go outside? Here’s how to teach him to ring a bell when he needs to go out.

Wouldn’t it be convenient if your dog could tell you when he needs to go outside? If your dog can learn to sit and stay, he can learn this simple trick that will make your life a lot easier. Here’s how to teach your dog to ring a bell to let you know he needs to go out:

  1. Purchase a cluster of sleigh bells from your local craft store. Attach the cluster to a heavy cord.
  2. Hook the cord with the cluster of hanging bells to the door knob of the door your dog uses to go outside in the morning. The bells should be eye level to your dog and securely attached to the door knob.
  3. When you next let your dog outside, ring the cluster of bells before opening the back door. You want your dog to associate the ringing of the bells with the door opening to go out. Be sure to do this every time you let your dog outside. If your dog sniffs the bells or otherwise acknowledges them, give him praise and a treat if you have one handy.
  4. Within a week or two, your dog will attempt to ring the bell if you’ve been consistent with his training. If he rings the bell, praise him profusely and immediately let me outside.
  5. Continue the routine of praising your dog and letting him out each time he rings the bell successfully. You could further reinforce this behavior by using a dog cookie or other treat.

Most dogs will be able to successfully master this trick if they’re trained consistently and given positive reinforcement during the training process.

Pretty soon the process of ringing the bell and being let outside will become second nature to your dog and you’ll never have to wonder when he needs to go out. He’ll be able to tell you with the sound of ringing bells. Once you’ve mastered this trick, you’ll see how easy it is to teach your dog new, more complicated tricks by using this same incremental learning technique along with positive reinforcement.

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User Comments
  1. vpsaroza

    On November 13, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    we have a basset hound we got when he was about a yr old. i was worried about house training him(came from a puppy mill). but he let me no then & still does when he needs 2 go out. that is a good idea for house training

  2. ybenormal

    On November 13, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    My dog only took one day to learn this. The funny thing is how hard she rings it depends on just how badly she needs to “go” out.

  3. Cat

    On November 13, 2007 at 11:16 pm

    My dog barks when he wants to go out. Isn’t that sort of the same thing?

  4. Louis

    On November 13, 2007 at 11:33 pm

    Awesome – this is going to save my door from being scratched to shreds!

  5. Mark

    On November 14, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    This worked for a while until she realized we would take her out when she rang it. It became a game bc she would ring it to go “out to play” We taught her her to speak and let us know she has to go to the bathroom. She wont bark unless she needs to go.

  6. Dj

    On November 19, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    I have the same experience as Mark. Our lab will often fake having to go out just to go out and play or because he hears other dogs outside.

  7. Gunter

    On November 19, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    I did this with my dog back when I was in an apartment. If he rang the bell and I didn’t stop what I was doing to take him out, he would hook the bell on to his neck, then spin, effectively BANGING the bell into the door loud enough to bother the neighbors. Sometimes, my dog is too smart for his own good.

  8. James

    On December 19, 2007 at 5:20 am

    nice, my dog scratches against the door when she wants to go out, if i put bells there she’d probably use them too, nice tips.

  9. Sefus

    On January 30, 2008 at 1:12 am

    Great tip. I’ll have to try this. Although my dog would rather just pee I thnk. :/

  10. Maddie

    On April 13, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    My english bulldog sits at the back door when she needs 2 go out. if no 1 see’s her sitting there, she’ll just pee on the rug at the back door. Then we’ll know when the stench becomes UNBEARABLE

  11. Kristin

    On July 18, 2008 at 10:15 am

    HELP!! i have a 1 year old bichon and when we first got her we taught her to go out in the garage. but when summer came she stopped telling us she wanted to go potty. just a couple of days ago we decided to let her rome around the house more but she is going potty on the rugs and hard wood. so we decided to put a crate inside of the house instead of outside cus she no longer uses the outside crate. but i dont think she understands to go potty in the crate that is inside. how can i teach her that she needs to go potty in the crate?

  12. Kara Wright

    On February 7, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    My dogs scratch on the door when they want inside, but will whine and then go stand by the door when they want out. The outside of my door is so shredded that I’d have to replace the door if I wanted it fixed.

    I will definitely try this, and hope the bells are loud enough to hear.

  13. Dee

    On May 31, 2009 at 10:28 am

    HELP! My tiny Yorkie Terrier must be dumb because she doesn’t get it! She keeps peeing in my husbands office. What am I doing wrong?

  14. Dee

    On May 31, 2009 at 10:31 am

    By the way, my tiny Yorkie is a year and a half old. Is it too late to teach her???

  15. cyndi

    On August 29, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    My 7 month old puppy still pees on the floor if I don’t keep the door open. I got her 1 1/2 months ago. She’s smart, but I couldn’t figure out what to do. I will try this bell idea, thanx!

  16. Sean

    On November 4, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    I personally believe that its never to late for dogs to learn things. The difficulty just changes, thats all.

  17. carlee

    On April 17, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    my dog will sometime go outside and then come in and pee and poop in the floor and so i dont know what to do

  18. carlee

    On April 17, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    also i dont understand the bell thin can u explain it to me

  19. Cate

    On September 12, 2011 at 5:04 am

    My pooch also started scratching the door to ask to go out, but most of the time its to go play lol ….I’ll have to leave her to wait and see if she barks or does something else so I know she needs the toilet….hoping the ’something else’ isn’t a premature toilet break on the back door rug!

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