Belly Potty Training for Puppies

Scout came into our lives nearly six years ago. When we got him as a 10 week old puppy my husband Nick proclaimed he was going to teach Scout to ring a bell to let us know he needed to go to the bathroom. I think I said something to the affect of 'Good luck with that.' Man, did I eat my words. It actually worked! Scout was trained to ring a bell when he needs to go to the potty!

Here's how we did it successfully:
  1. Show your dog the bell after you hang it.
  2. Help it associate the bell with positive things by holding out treats near the bell and ringing the bell when the dog comes to retrieve the treat.
  3. If your puppy dislikes or is scared of the sound of the bell, teach it to be comfortable with the bell before using the bell as part of potty training.
  4. Help your dog learn to ring the bell. When you’re taking the dog outside for its schedule bathroom time, set it first next to the bell and use its paw to ring the bell while saying “outside.” Any hint of a ring should open the door for both of you to go out. Praise your dog when it rings the bell!
  5. Another option is to say “outside” and tap your fingers on the wall or door next to the bell--without ringing it yourself--to encourage your dog to lift its paws to the bell.
  6. Be sure to show your dog that the bell is now associated with going out to use the bathroom, not just with getting a treat.

Other helpful hints:

Just a few occurrences of the same pattern of cause and effect will set the association in their minds.
Take the bell with you when you and your dog travel. Similarly, send the bell with your dog if it stays at another home while you’re away.


  1. Great tips! I tried doing this with Cooper when he was a puppy, but there was another dog in the apartment and it just didn't work at that time. Now that we have our own house and I dont have roommates, I think it would have gone a lot more smoothly.

  2. Ok that is cool! Our older dogs caught on to telling us when they needed to go out (they just stand by the door and look at us expectantly!) pretty quick but we just FINALLY got our Yorkie to tell us he needs to go! I love the idea of the bell!

  3. I love the idea of a bell! Your dog is so cute! :)

  4. This is AMAZING! I'm definitely trying this with Brady. He hasn't had an accident in a long time but he still doesn't tell us when he needs to go - we just take him out every 3 hours. It would be so nice to only go out when he actually needs to!