Friday, November 5, 2010

How to Train Your Dog to Ring a Bell

By Linda Cole

Teaching your dog basic commands is necessary to help keep them safe and well behaved. It's important to know that your dog will come when called. Once you've taught him how to sit, stay, come or any of the other basic commands, consider moving on to tricks. One fun dog trick that can make things easier for you, and hopefully improve your pet's life, is to train your dog how to ring a bell when he needs to go outside.

When you train your dog to ring a bell, it's just like teaching any other command. Make sure you have plenty of patience and CANIDAE Snap-Biscuit® dog treats. You can have your dog ringing a bell sooner than you think. This is also a good command to teach a puppy to help reduce accidents. Puppies can learn commands as long as you stay patient and consistent with them, and remember they're still developing in mind and body.

Training your dog to ring a bell gives him a way to send a signal to you when he needs to go outside, especially if you're busy and miss his normal body language that lets you know he wants out. The first thing you need to teach your dog this trick is a bell. It can be one of the desk bells like you find in hotels and businesses, or it can be a bell you hang on a doorknob or on the wall where your dog can reach it.

Begin by training your dog to touch your hand with his nose or paw. Hold your hand in front of his nose and wait for him to touch your palm. He may need some help getting started. Lift his paw or touch his nose with your hand to help him along. Immediately reward him with a treat and praise. It's best to train your dog when he's hungry because you need to repeat it 15 or 20 times in a row, and do it in 3 different training sessions. Once your dog is touching your hand, start giving him a command to “touch” or “ring.” Pick one of the two words and don't confuse him by using both. When he's touching your hand on command, it's time to train your dog to touch the bell.

Hold the bell in your hand and give him the command to touch. If he doesn't want to touch it, try rubbing something he likes on it to make the bell smell better to him. A dab of peanut butter appeals to many dogs; cheese, butter or some of his favorite CANIDAE canned dog food will work too – just enough to get his attention. Continue this exercise until he's consistently ringing or touching the bell in your hand.

Now it's time to move the bell to the door you use to let him outside. Place a desk bell on the floor by the door or if you're using a hanging bell, hang it from the doorknob or on the wall where your dog can reach it. Give him the command to touch or ring the bell, and open the door to let him outside when he rings it. Don't forget to give him a treat and praise. This is more than just a simple dog trick to entertain guests. It helps your dog communicate when he needs to go outside!

Continue to train your dog to ring the bell until he does it on his own every time. When you go to the door to let him out, give him the command to touch. Once he touches the bell when you tell him to, the next step is to stand by the door and wait for him to ring the bell without you giving the command. Wait for 30 seconds or so before saying anything. If he doesn't ring it and is waiting for your command, stare at the bell to help him understand he doesn't need your command to ring the bell. When he rings it, immediately open the door so he can go outside.

Some dogs and puppies learn faster than others, so don't be discouraged. Training your dog to ring a bell can help reduce accidents in the house, but you also need to train yourself to listen for the bell. When your dog rings the bell, you need to stop what you're doing and let him outside. If he rings it just to go outside and play, call him back inside so he can learn what he's supposed to do when he rings the bell. This is a useful trick that can benefit both you and your pet. For another fun dog trick, read How to Teach Your Dog to Roll Over.

Photo by Tony Alter

Read more articles by Linda Cole

1 comment:

  1. We actually introduced the bell when we took in our late rescue. Jasmine figured it out within the first half hour, it took him forever.

    Daughter's Chihuahua figured it out very quickly too.


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