Many of us are familiar with the Dog Door, a nice little flap that the dog can exit and enter through at their will. However, for some dog owners doggie doors are not always an option due to safety concerns with wildlife in the area or not having an ideal location to install a dog door. If your home isn’t ideal for a doggie door, a doggie door bell can be an easy way for your dog to let you know he/she needs a trip outside.
Before considering either a dog door or door bell, it’s important to make sure your dog is completely housebroken. If you are looking at either option as a solution to housebreaking issues, you’re in for a long, hard lesson in frustration! If your dog is 100% completely house trained, a doggie door bell may be a helpful communication tool.
In most cases, maintaining a consistent schedule is all you need to keep your dog from having an accident in the home. Occasionally I do have some clients who’s schedule is constantly changing, whether it’s work related, after school activities or just a very busy lifestyle. Sometimes keeping the dog on a consistent schedule can be difficult.
First off you’ll need a bell, there are some commercial products out there but it’s just as easy to make your own doggie door bell. Using large bells, tie several onto a ribbon or string â€“ length should be appropriate for your dogs height from the door knob. Once the string of bells has been made and tied to the door knob, we need to teach our dog how to use it. I start by teaching the dog to use their paw to ring the bells, I prefer to have the dog use their paw to really get a nice loud ring instead of a gentle nose tap that may not create quite enough noise. Once your dog paws the bell the first time I mark the behavior and reward. After a few times of the dog getting used to pawing at the bells and receiving a reward I label the behavior, you can really name it what ever you like “Touch”, “Ring”, “Outside”…it’s up to you.
Now that the dog is comfortable ringing the bell on command, I ask them to ring the bells with my new command, mark the behavior with a “Yes” then open the door and reward the dog. I’ll repeat this several times for the next few days. The next step is to chain the behaviors together with a trip outside and the “Go Potty” command. I gradually start withholding the food reward until after the dog has gone potty. I also make sure that while my dog is learning this behavior, I have them ring the bell for each potty trip outside on my schedule. Eventually your dog will begin to ring the bell without being prompted by command. Remember to praise and reward each time your dog goes outside and goes potty.
Every dog is different, the time is takes your dog to learn this behavior may be different than another dog. If you are diligent and consistently practice this routine with each trip outside, soon enough your dog will tell you they need outside by ringing the bell.