What Are Dog Doorbells?

Dog doorbells let you know when it’s time for your dog to go outside. When nature calls, they can ring the bell using some form of either electric or mechanical gadget, which will then let you know that it’s time to take them out.

Most pet supply places only ever sell dog doorbells that are designed for indoor use. When your dog wants to go out, he or she will ring it and then wait for you to come when it’s time to come back in the house.

That means you’ll still need to keep a close eye on your dog to make sure you know when it’s time for them to come in.

What is a Dog Doorbell Mat?

Dog doorbell mats are essentially just rugs that include a little electric signaler in them. When your dog steps on one, it causes a chime to switch on.

That’ll give you the message that your dog needs to go out. Unlike older style dog doorbells, there are actually doorbell mats that are safe to use outside.

If you put one outside and let your dog walk over it every single time he or she wants to come in, then you’ll both quickly learn to respond to the signal. This is an especially good feature if you live in a house where it’s hard to hear when you dog steps onto a back deck or patio.

What is a Dog Doorbell Switch?

Technically, any type of dog doorbell incorporates an electrical switch that’s somehow set off by your dog whenever he or she walks by. However, there are a few pet supply firms that actually make dedicated switch boxes that dogs can learn to push with their paw or nose.

In general, these are more durable systems but they tend to be harder for dogs to get the hang of. Doorbell mats take next to no training by comparison whereas a doorbell switch box could take a while to get used to.

Pet owners who have a doorbell system that uses a little doggie button can teach their dog to use it by employing a specific set of steps, so it should be possible to teach dogs to use almost any technique.

Do Dog Doorbells Work?

Most pet owners can find at least one type of doorbell mechanism that works with their dog. Some dogs might be more comfortable with mats while others can learn to work with a dedicated switch fairly quickly.

To some degree, it depends on how your dog is currently trained and how well they take to new ideas. If you have a dog that tends to run up onto a deck or patio without regard for anything else, then a mat might work best.

Younger dogs shouldn’t have too much trouble learning a complicated mechanism. That being said, any of these options should be equally as safe to use.

Pet supply companies are held to fairly strict standards when it comes to electrical safety and the voltages in question aren’t usually very high.

How Do You Use a Dog Doorbell?

Indoor dog doorbells are actuated either when a dog nudges a control or when they step over it. Since dogs will normally hear an audible response when they do this, they’ll eventually get the idea that this is the sign that they’re allowed to go out.

Exterior bells usually work the same way, though many designs are positioned under mats instead of attached to control boxes. Most modern designs are wireless, so they send a signal to a little ringer that’s positioned closer to where you are in the house.

The ringer itself includes a small buzzing speaker, which functions almost the same exact way that a traditional human doorbell might. Some companies have taken advantage of this wireless design paradigm to add additional techie features.

How Do Dogs Know What a Doorbell Is?

Assuming that a dog can hear the chime go off when they touch a control, they’ll get the idea that they’re somehow causing a bell to sound a musical note. You’ll need to teach them how to press it the same way you’d teach them any other trick, but it’s not

Depending on the type of doorbell you install, it might not even be necessary for your dog to know what a doorbell is. Otherwise, a simple training technique that focuses on pattern recognition will help your dog to master the concept of a doorbell.

How Long Does it Take to Train a Dog to Use the Dog Doorbell?

While it depends on your dog’s specific personality, there’s no reason that most dogs can’t learn to use a simple doorbell within a couple of weeks. The simplest designs take no real training, since they just sit under whatever surface your dog would normally use to wait on when he or she wanted to go outside.

More complicated mechanisms may take a longer period of time for dogs to adjust to, especially if they don’t like the sound the chime makes. If it’s too loud, then you’ll want to dial it back until it’s at a level that your dog doesn’t find objectionable.

You could even teach your dog to ring a mechanical bell if that helps noise-wise, though it might take a slightly longer period of time for them to master it.

Train Your Dog to Use a Dog Doorbell

According to behaviorial specialist Kate Naito, training a dog to use a button is an exercise in pattern recognition like she illustrates in her video on the topic:

Her technique is easy to put into practice and can be summed down in just a few steps:

  • Teach your dog that he or she will get a treat each time they touch an object, like a note or card
  • Repeat the process until your dog has it down; it might take a day or two for your dog to get used to the concept
  • Put a note onto your hand and practice with your dog, ensuring that he or she can press it
  • Move it to a low object that your dog can touch, so your dog learns to push on it
  • Phase the note or card out as you integrate the doorbell button into your training
  • Replace all your training aids with nothing but the button until your dog learns how to push it to go outside, get dinner or let you know anything else

Some particularly clever dogs can master this technique in just a day or two as long as the control button for your doorbell is relatively simple.