So, this is one of those things that I get asked a lot. Can you teach me how to bell train my puppy?
Yes. Most puppies can learn to ring a bell.
The question is do you want to “bell train” your puppy?
Bell training is when you teach your puppy to ring a bell, usually hanging from a door handle leading to outside. The ring then cues you, the human, to open up the door, at which point (the idea is) that your puppy runs out to the yard, goes potty and comes back in.
Proponents of bell training claim that it simplifies potty training, speeds up potty training, and reduces accidents.
I often see people teaching this to puppies as young as 9 weeks.
This sounds great on the surface, but when you dig a little deeper it’s not quite as sound as it appears!
What I usually end up seeing in the real world from bell training is a mixed bag.
Sometimes I see bell training work as intended. These puppies tend to be naturally self controlled, very attached to their owners, less motivated to be outside in general, and fairly easy going.
I think the puppies that bell train easily would probably potty train easily without a bell as well, they are simply puppies who get potty training easily, without a whole lot of effort on the owners part.
For the other 90% of puppies, particularly those puppies who are highly intelligent, high energy, demanding, love the outdoors, and/or love to be busy, I see a few predictable and unwelcome things that develop from this.
- Puppies don’t learn to “hold it”: Because the puppy sets the schedule for when he needs to go out, intervals between outings can be as short as 30 minutes. This is problematic, when you need to leave your puppy for a couple of hours and find out that he has no ability to hold it that long.
- Puppies learn, ring the bell=go outside: Not necessarily just to go potty. A bored puppy might just ring the bell to go outside and dig or eat mulch. I often see puppies ring the bell just to get their owner’s attention, to get them up from their computers or whatever.
- Puppies learn they run the show! From a leadership perspective, bell training can be highly problematic. Because right from the beginning, you are teaching the puppy that you jump at his command. This will likely come back later in the form of attention-seeking/demanding/pushy behaviors in your adolescent dog, like barking at you for attention, whining at you for attention, barking and jumping on visitors, etc.
So, I’m not saying for sure don’t bell train your puppy because I know it does work for some puppies and owners….
But, if you’re on the fence, I’d encourage you to try potty training without the bell first.
Check back to episodes 1 & 2 (https://savvycitydog.com/potty-train-your-puppy-fast-part-1/ and https://savvycitydog.com/potty-train-your-puppy-fast-part-2/) from this season for TONS of info on how to potty train your puppy. I promise it works. No bells needed, you’ll build up your puppies ability to hold it quickly, and your leadership won’t suffer in the process!
I’ve trained hundreds of puppies this way.
My current puppy Izzy (knock on wood!) hasn’t had a SINGLE accident since I brought her home over a week ago. I follow the exact program I give you in episodes 1 & 2.
She’s now 9 weeks and holds it 2-3 hours between bathroom breaks, as well as for 10 hours overnight, with one middle-of-the-night outing, which I will drop in the next week or so.
She has never used a bell for potty training and never will! It’s just not needed and simpler without!
So, I hope this helped those of you who had questions about bell training and if it is worth it.
If this episode helped you please RATE and REVIEW this podcast!
Thanks and I look forward to chatting again soon!