3 Steps to Train A Puppy to Ring Potty Bells and Make Potty Training Fun

teach your puppy to ring potty bells in 3 steps

What's so great about dog bell training?

Imagine a world where your puppy always tells you when she has to go outside and she never has an accident.


Now read on to find out how to make this your reality!


Your puppy doesn't know you need him to potty outside until you teach him this skill. In order to teach our puppies where they should be going, we first have to establish some clear guidelines and communication.

Most puppies give signals, like sniffing the ground and circling before they go to the bathroom. These signals can be helpful but require you to constantly have eyes on your dog.

As your little one matures and earns more freedom, it will be helpful to have an audible and reliable signal from your pup that they need to go outside! This is why I recommend potty training bells as an essential tool for in-home puppy training. You'll also want to learn about crate training a puppy and how to prevent excited puppy pee to help with potty training and so much more.


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What Are Potty Bells?

Potty bells are a housetraining tool, similar to a doorbell, that your puppy learns to ring to alert you when it’s time to go out to potty.

Potty training bells come in many different varieties including:


Service Desk or Courtesy Bells

potty training bells - courtesy desk style

Potty bells you place on tables

The courtesy desk dog doorbell sits on the floor near the door, so your puppy can tap it with her paw when it’s time to go potty.


Hanging Dog Bells With Adjustable Strap

dog potty training bells - hanging style

Hanging bells for potty training your puppy

Hanging dog bells are so convenient because they can be hung from almost any door handle and adjusted to work well as your puppy grows. With multiple bells suspended from a sturdy strap, these potty training bells are durable, easy for puppies to learn to ring, and easy for you to hear… even if you’re in a different room.


Wall Mounted Potty Bells

Although wall-mounted housetraining bells might look cool, they aren’t very practical. This type of potty bell must be attached to a wall with screws and adjusted to the proper height. As your puppy grows and ages, you will need to remove and reposition the bell which damages your wall.


What Kind of Dog Bell I Recommend For Potty Bell Training

Because your puppy’s reach and mobility change as your pup ages, you need a doorbell solution that is durable, easy to use, and can be easily adjusted. That’s why I recommend using Adjustable Hanging Potty Bells or Courtesy Desk Potty Bells.


How To Use Potty Bells

Adjustable Hanging Dog Doorbells

Step 1

Hang the adjustable potty bells next to or near the door you want your puppy to learn to use for bathroom breaks.

Step 2

Adjust the strap so the bottom bells are above the floor and easy for your pup to reach.

Step 3

Teach your pup how to ring the potty bells when she needs to go outside to potty.


hanging potty bells for training your puppy


PRO TIP:  Hang potty bells near the door instead of on the doorknob so the bells only ring when your puppy needs to potty. Otherwise, the potty bells will ring every time the door is opened, and your puppy won’t associate the potty bells with potty time.


Courtesy Desk Dog Doorbells

Step 1

Place the dog doorbell on the floor near the door you want your puppy to learn to use when he needs to go outside. Ensure the potty bell is placed, so it doesn’t interfere with the way your door swings to open. You don't want the potty bell to accidentally ring when the door is opened.

Step 2

Teach your pup how to ring the dog doorbell to alert you it’s time to go out to potty.


How To Train Using Potty Bells

Training a puppy to use potty bells can be broken down into three, easy-to-follow steps. Grab your potty bells here!


teach your puppy to ring potty bells in 3 steps


Step 1

Buy a set of potty training bells that you will be able to easily hear when your dog rings them. Hang the potty training bells at your dog’s level on the wall next to the main “potty door.”

Before going outside, ring the potty bells yourself and say, “Go Potty.” Take your puppy out on a leash to the same location every time.

When your pup does his business, repeat “Go Potty” and give your dog a treat. Repeat this process every time your puppy goes out for about one week.

Step 2

You will now begin luring your puppy to ring the potty bell on her own.

Start by showing your pup a treat before going outside. Slowly bring the treat next to the set of potty training bells, luring your dog to follow the treat to the bells. When your puppy’s nose or paw touches the potty bells, say, “Let's Go Potty Outside,” and take your pup outside to the “potty spot.”

Wait for your puppy to finish, then repeat “Go Potty” and give her the treat. It is important to reward your pup for going to the bathroom outside. This is why the treat is only given after doing her business outside! This process may last a week, give or take a few days, depending on the puppy.

Step 3

Now that your puppy is physically ringing the potty training bells, it is time to phase out the food lure. Just before taking your pup outside, gesture to the potty bells with your empty hand instead of using a treat to draw his nose over.

When your puppy rings the potty training bells, say, “Go Potty,” and take him to the “potty spot.” After your pup finishes, repeat “Go Potty” and reward him with a treat.

Always take your dog out on a leash while working on potty training. This ensures that your pup will understand the potty training bells mean “Go Potty” and not “go out and play.”

If your puppy does not go potty, confine her inside (either on a leash or in her crate) for 5 to 10 minutes and then repeat the bell training process.

Remember to have patience with your puppy and yourself. As long as you stay consistent and fair, you and your pup will get the hang of this in no time!


How Often Will My Puppy Need To Go Potty

In general, puppies must go potty at least every 2 to 4 hours. Younger puppies need to go out more often because they haven’t learned bladder control yet.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recommends using a “month-plus-one” rule to determine the appropriate potty schedule for your puppy. Take your pup’s age in months, and add one to it to determine the maximum number of hours your pup can wait to potty.

Using this formula, your 2-month-old puppy will need to go potty at least every 3 hours once he has learned to control his bladder through proper dog potty training.

As with any rule, there are always exceptions, and your puppy’s potty schedule is no different.

Your pup will also need to go potty within 30 minutes (or less) of eating, immediately after waking from a nap, after playtime, or other physical activity.

Want a dog potty training schedule you can count on? One that just works? You’ll get that and so much more in the FREE New Puppy Starter Kit.

Have more potty bell training questions? Share them in the comments below.

Where will you be hanging your potty bells?

Bonus points if you can share a pic of your potty bells and where you put them!


If you enjoyed this article, you may also be interested in:

Michele Lennon with her dream dogs

About the trainer

Michele Lennon

After spending 20 years helping families with their dogs face to face as a professional dog trainer, Michele realized that so much of what she knows could be shared with families everywhere - in a way that actually works. People sometimes think their dog is just SUPER difficult because the advice they’ve gotten was incomplete, confusing or just wrong. So she set out to help. Michele loves training dogs because of the impact that it has on the families she gets to help. The peace and joy they get from being able to enjoy their dog LISTENING. Besides teaching classes, helping private clients and running seminars, Michele is also a foodie and fantasizes about being a food critic or secret shopper for restaurants. Talk to her about food and your instant best friends.


  1. Laura on August 11, 2019 at 2:37 am

    Just picked up my 12 week old cocker and she is peeing in the crate. It is a small crate large enough fir her to stretch out to sleep but not much more. Even after 3 hours and waking her up. She did that after a few minutes of being in the crate. I have never had a pup that is ok with peeing in her crate and won’t go outside. Any ideas?

    • Michele Lennon - CPDT on August 11, 2019 at 6:58 pm

      Congrats on your new puppy! I know how frustrating potty training a puppy can be. Most pups her age can only hold it 1 hour for each month of age, sometimes even less than that. I would check out my potty training lesson and grab the sample puppy schedule that goes along with it. This will help keep you and your pup on a consistent schedule as well as teach you the best techniques to potty train your pup super fast. Remember your puppy is growing and maturing at a very rapid rate during her first year of life. Her brain and body are still trying to sync up and this can lead to a few accidents. Here’s the link to the potty training lesson and resources found in the New Puppy Starter Kit https://howtotrainadreamdog.com/puppy-perfection-course/

      • Jen on July 17, 2022 at 6:35 pm

        We just brought home our new Vizsla and are not sure how to train with bells. We have a three story home and our living area in s on the third floor where we spend most of time. Right now she is in her crate or playpen. We take her out every so often to do her business. She is just nine week old and not using steps yet. When and how should we go about training with bells? Thank you in advance!

        • How To Train a Dream Dog on July 17, 2022 at 7:30 pm

          Jen, great question! Inside the free New Puppy starter kit, there’s a 3 step video lesson that will help you bell train your new puppy. Right now, you’re doing what we call pre-training since she won’t have access to the bells just yet. When she does she’ll be able to ring them to let you know when she needs to go out. Here’s the link to access the New Puppy Starter Kit https://howtotrainadreamdog.com/

  2. Jodie Rowell on March 14, 2020 at 9:31 pm

    My puppy is five months old and we trained her with a potty bell. She trained quickly and all was well… until she figured out ringing the bell gets her outside to run and play. She now rings the bells 15 times a day. I tried ignoring her when I was certain she had been out a few minutes prior and taken care of business; she then stopped using the bell and just peed in the house. So we started over with potty training, I am completely frustrated, I give her a few minutes if she doesn’t go, I bring her back in with no play time but she doesn’t give up she continues to ring the bell over and over. I am at my wits end and completely at a loss as to how to change her behavior.

    • How To Train a Dream Dog on March 26, 2020 at 5:35 pm

      I pick the bells up for a while and put them back down about the time I need to take a pup out. When you go outside, make it boring, no playtime, just potty time.

  3. Christine on June 22, 2020 at 1:07 am

    We have the bells and are planning to use them, but I realized they’re on a door that we use to go out throughout the day, which will ring them. How do we use the bells for potty on a frequently used door? Thanks!

    • How To Train a Dream Dog on June 22, 2020 at 2:23 pm


      Inside the free New Puppy Starter Kit, there is a bell training lesson. The lesson contains several training tips and one of the tips is not to put the bells on the door but on a hook next to the door. We don’t want pup to hear the bells every time the door opens and closes as this will make the bells lose their meaning. Here’s the link to grab the video lesson and several other puppy training lessons from the New Puppy Starter Kit: https://howtotrainadreamdog.com/

  4. Allison Kell on December 7, 2022 at 2:37 pm

    At what age and part of the potty training process can you start trying to get them to use the bells? I have a 9-week-old puppy that we’ve only had for less than 2 weeks. So I’m wondering if it’s too soon to start with the bells?

    • How To Train a Dream Dog on December 7, 2022 at 4:06 pm

      I love this question! It’s never too late to work on bell training. Right now, it’s likely that your pup doesn’t have full access to the spot where the bells are, so you’re working on steps 1 and 2 of bell training. We call this pre-training. We are working on the skill before we need it. This means you’re teaching your puppy what the bells mean (bells= potty outside) so that when pup has access to more space in your home, he can go over to the bells and ring them on his own.

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