Training your dog to ring the Doggie Doorbell is fun. And it should be fun as with any other training activities. Dogs learn the best when they are having fun. Before the session, do an activity that your dog enjoys and repeat a few commands he already knows, like "come" and "stay." Reward him with his favorite treats. This will help get him in the mood to work with you.
The time it takes to train a dog to ring the doorbell will vary, ranging from minutes to weeks. Most dogs will get it after several sessions spread over several days. It should be noted that although doorbell training will facilitate potty training, it does not equate to potty training. The dog must first establish the sense to relieve himself outside.
Keep each session short and fun. In general, the more training you do with your dog, the better and happier they are. Any positive reinforcement training will help strengthen the bond between you and your dog.
- Hold a few pieces of treat in one hand and hide them behind your back. Or keep a few pieces in your pocket. If your dog has learned the clicker, use that. It will speed up the training process.
- Drop a small piece of treat in the treat space behind the yellow disc. You can also put a dab of peanut butter on the disc.
- Take the cover off the housing and hold it in your hand.
- Offer the yellow disc to your dog about 2 inches away from his nose.
- As soon as your dog sniffs the disc, reward him by giving him a piece of treat in your hand.
- Repeat this until gradually your dog can touch and press the yellow disc.
- Now put the yellow disc back onto the mounted housing. Stand next to it and train your dog to touch it on the wall, by repeating the above process.
- Remember to keep the sessions fun and short. A few minutes at a time and a few sessions a day is better than one long session.
After your dog has mastered the doorbell ringing, transition the reward to going out and coming in. First ask your dog to ring the doorbell, then take him to the door and go out (or come in) with him. After you've passed through the door, reward and praise him. Eventually, you would stop giving treats all together except occasional reinforcement. Because the initial reward was using treats, some dogs may hang onto the idea of doorbell for treats longer. When Pebble first learned to ring the Doggie Doorbell, he would go out, ring the bell to come back in order to get a treat. This is a very natural behavior. Just be persistent and let the going out or coming in be the reward. Your dog, like Pebble, will understand and adjust soon enough.
Some dogs like to use their paws more than their noses. Often small dogs like to stand on their hind legs and use their front paws to interact with the world. You can certainly train your dog to use his paws to ring the Doggie Doorbell. Consider one of the following options for mounting
- Mount on the wall at a height your dog can reach easily with his paw; or,
- Mount at a height where your dog will stand up to reach it.
- Mount the doorbell on the floor. You can mount the doorbell housing on a piece of wood that is wide enough to be stable;
You can start the training hold the yellow disc (cover) in your hand. Present it to your dog horizontally, at a low position in front of his paws. Let him paw it. Reward him right away with clicker or treats. Repeat the process and gradually move the yellow disc to a vertical position and at a height of his comfortable striking height. When he has mastered this, put the cover back on the mounted housing. Continue to train until your dog can strike the yellow disc and ring the doorbell.
Again, don't rush the training process. Take the time and enjoy the interactions with your dog. When you are having fun and feeling appreciative toward your dog, your dog will feel it and will be more willing to learn new skills.
Small dogs sometimes can have dainty touches. Although the Pebble Smart Doggie Doorbell is very sensitive and requires only a light touch to trigger, small dogs can take longer to train. The trick is to break the training process down to tiny steps. Use the "target" method outlined in our instruction manual. At the beginning, you may want to reward your dog even when he/she glances at the doorbell. As your pup masters each step, withhold the treat a little longer to get him to push the target a little harder.
If you want to test the feasibility before purchase, you can use a bottle cap held in your hand as the target. Through several training sessions gradually teach your dog to nudge the cap with enough force that will move the bottle cap. If you can feel the nudge and the cap is moves a little, you know your dog can be trained to use the Doggie Doorbell.
Another method is to train your dog to use his front paws to press on the doorbell. If you haven't purchased the doorbell yet, you can tape a piece of sticky note paper on the wall. Hang a piece of treat above the paper and see if your pup will stand up to reach for it and in the process put his paws on the target. After you receive the Doggie Doorbell, put the treat on the top of the cover. This will entice your dog to reach up and push on the disc.
If your dog is used to pushing or scratching the door to be let in, it may take some persistence to retrain him. First firmly establish ringing the doorbell on command. Then try to remind him before he scratches the door. If he does scratch, give him a minute before responding. If he does not ring the bell, ask him to ring the bell before letting him in.
One of our customers experimented with the following method with success:
"I have taken a new approach in that when I let the dog out. I always keep an eye on the back door. This way he doesn't get a chance to scratch. When I see him come up to the door, I meet him over there and tap on the wall at the level of the bell. He pushes it, and gets rewarded after he comes into the house. When we are out with him we always make him ring the bell before we all go in."
When Pebble, our dog, first learned the Doggie Doorbell, he would go out to ring the doorbell in order to get a treat. This is one of the common situations -- rings the doorbell for treats. There can also be ringing the doorbell for attention.
If your dog rings the doorbell just for treats, the best way is to stop rewarding him with treats. Just open the door to let him in or out. If he is not going out, close the door and walk away. Over a few days of time, your dog will learn that the doorbell is for using the door only. Pebble adjusted to that idea fairly quickly within a few times of repetition.
If your dog rings the doorbell for attention or repeatedly come in and go out, this is usually an indication that your dog has excessive energy to burn. The most effective is to increase his daily exercise. If he has exercised enough but still rings the doorbell just for fun, you can assert a bit of gentle authority by saying "no."