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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Guys,

I have spent the last 6 days training my dog to ring a bell right next to the door. I have fed him every meal by asking him to ring the bell for the food. He started off scared but after a lot of repetition he's pretty good at it now and in the last 24 hours he has started ringing the bell of his own volition when he wants to be fed, basically around meal times. This bell ringing action is exactly what I am looking for so I've responded to his rings by opening the door. I know he's actually asking for food but I am hoping he'll make the connection soon that the bell is actually to alert me to when he wants to go out. If I do realise he needs to go out and he's standing by the door I ask him to ring the bell and then he goes out to the loo, when he comes back in I give him a few kibbles as a reward just because I want to reinforce that thats what I want him to do when he needs to go out.

My question is this: Do I need to train him to ring the bell with food any more? Since he's already ringing the bell by himself now I feel like I shouldn’t train him to ring the bell for food because I don't want him to further associate the bell with food. The problem is that he still won’t ring the bell on command very easily so it’s hard to actually get him to ring it before he goes out to the toilet.

Does anyone have any tips for getting him to move from associating the bell with food to associating it with going to the toilet?
 

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Ok....as a thought. I think you started off on the wrong foot. The dog associates the bell with food, not toilet. This maybe hard to change.

I suggest. DO NOT feed when the dog rings the bell. Next, when he rings the bell take him out for a loo trip. Be sure to give a treat at the bell ring. Also give a treat when the dogs does his loo business. It doesn't matter if it is feeding time, take him out. The treats only need to be small, just big enough for a smell and taste.

Most dogs are opportunistic eaters. Meaning they will eat anytime food is available or offered. This is why "free" feeding can easily lead to obese dogs and the practice is not recommended.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi thanks for your reply. I initially had to feed him through the bell because he was scared of it so I tried to build up a good association, I also needed to get him to ring it loud enough so we could hear it! But he’s able to ring it now and I’m not feeding him meals through it at all anymore.

I’m not sure what you mean though, you said don’t feed him when he rings the bell but just give him one kibble immediately after he rings it and another one as soon as he comes back in? Currently I’m only giving him a kibble when he gets in after going to the loo, I’m not treating him immediately after he rings the bell. One problem is that I do need to sometimes have kibble in my hand in order for him to ring the bell in the first place though. I do feel a little bad about enticing him to ring the bell with kibble but not giving it to him until he comes back in but I was scared to keep having the bell associated with food. Basically I’m not letting him go out to the loo now unless he rings the bell first, which he will do if I entice him but he hasn’t done on his own volition yet....I’m just hoping he’ll do it soon!
 

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1. When he rings the bell, immediately give a kibble piece.
2. Then go out for loo.
3. Treat when he does his business.
No need for kibble treat when coming back in.

If you don't let him out, he will loo in the house.

Dogs work and learn in the moment. Bell ring, treat, go out, loo business, treat.

When you treat on returning home, the dog does not make the connection with the bell or going to the loo. He only knows a treat is when coming home.
 

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And for another perspective: The first dog we had when I was six was bell-trained. I was six years old, so I didn't have much to do with her training. Nor do I remember the details of how she was trained.

What I DO remember is that she rang that bell whenever she felt she needed a bit of attention: When we sat down to eat, when you wanted to shower or use the toilet, when you were on the phone, etc.

One of our current dogs (a senior lab mix) stomps her feet and snorts when she wants to go out. The other, a young foo-foo mix, just follows her out.

I've had dogs that gave us no signals at all. I've just always figured it was our responsibility to give them regular opportunities and we haven't had a problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hi thanks for your replies. I can tell when he wants to go out, he is house trained already it’s just that I wanted to give him the opportunity to really be able to communicate with us. He usually just stares at the door when he wants to go out but sometimes it takes us a while to notice, like if we’re cooking or something. I feel like it’ll make him a bit more confident, we’re working on making him a less nervous dog :)
 

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I'd love to teach our dog to do this as well. She whines now, but sometimes it's just because she wants to play. If I gave her treats for ringing a bell, she's probably ring it all the time though just to get a treat.
 
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