DIY Potty Bells and a Pen

Just as a note this is not the DIY project that I keep hinting at – that has been slightly postponed! Never the less here is a quick DIY for any one who needs extra help with toilet training their puppy or dog. If you just want the steps pass my little background info below.

Bonnie is house trained in that she will not use the bathroom inside the house under normal circumstances and will hold it until she is let outside. We have always let her out regularly and on a routine so she wasn’t too hard to house train but the big issue is because she is used to being let out regularly she doesn’t let us know if she needs out at other times! This doesn’t happen too often but when she has an upset stomach it turns into a game of us taking her out very often and it’s always a gamble overnight if she will have an accident or not.

She doesn’t bark, whine, sit at the door, scratch at the door, paw at us, stare at us or give any foolproof sign that she needs the bathroom. She sometimes paces but that can also mean she is just bothered by other dogs in the neighbourhood barking so isn’t always a true sign. Since she had an upset stomach at the end of last week we decided it was finally time to try out some potty bells and see if we can crack the house training 100% even when she is ill and off her usual routine.

DIY Potty Bells Instructions


What you will need

  • Ribbon
  • Split rings (keyrings)
  • Bells
  • Needle and thread or a sewing machine


  1. At one end of the ribbon create a loop and sew the top and bottom edges of the loop so that only the sides of the ribbon are open
  2. At equal lengths along the ribbon create 2 loops by folding the ribbon back on itself and again sewing the top and bottom of the folds so that it won’t unravel
  3. Thread the bells onto the ribbon by inserting the split rings into the holes you created by looping the ribbon
  4. Take the nearly finished piece to the door you want to use it on and make sure you leave enough length that your dog can reach them with their nose and paws
  5. Create a handle – create a loop by folding the ribbon over and sewing that firmly before cutting off any excess ribbon


And there you have it, your very own potty bells for a fraction of the price of store bought potty bells. Another nice thing about it being homemade is that you can choose a ribbon colour or pattern and customise to your liking!


We are still training her to paw or nose them – she is now getting the fact that interacting with the bells means the door opens but she still is struggling to generalise that she can touch the bells while they are on the door as I still need to hold them for her to interact with them. Also because she is still getting out on her usual routine she hasn’t volunteered to go out by using them by herself yet. But we will get there in time as she already has nearly 2 years of routine behind her so it may take her a while to get used to the new way of things.

In other news we also purchased a pen for her which arrived this morning. Bonnie is crate trained and is very calm and happy to spend extended time in her crate but we have been wanting to let her “free roam” for a while now and have practised leaving her home alone outside of her crate. As we rent a house we are of course worried that we may damage someone else’s property so as a stop gap measure we are hoping to give Bonnie more freedom slowly over time so that she get’s used to being relaxed with more space while we are out.

More space for her to settle
Already associating it with positive things!

The pen is big and gives her plenty of space to have a stretch while we are out and it’s great as it can be made smaller or even bigger if you buy more panels, can be arranged into different shapes depending on the space you have and also can be used as a barrier for example to stop counter surfing.

Many people might wonder why it has taken us this long to start allowing Bonnie to have more freedom when we are out and some might think it’s cruel but when Bonnie first came to us she was not at all used to a house environment. To be honest we had wondered what we had got ourselves into as when we brought her home she commando crawled in through the front door totally wary and when we let her off the lead in the living room (silly mistake – knowing what I know now I would’ve tethered her to me) she immediately crawled under the coffee table and barged in through the shelves of the TV unit to stand behind it then ventured out to the kitchen and found the degu’s cage and begin to try to climb the cage until we pulled her away.

Honestly she was a little bit like a feral dog as it seemed like she had no previous experience with a house. She was not house trained, she paced and paced and didn’t know how to settle, she chewed through a laptop charger and a mouse both while plugged in and got zapped (thankfully nothing came of it!), tried to hide high value items like antlers from us, scratched and scrabbled and bit at the furniture if her ball or food went under it and she didn’t know how to play with toys and ingested everything whether it was edible or not. Also did we mention she had a infection from her spay incision and a dodgy stomach from the antibiotics, needless to say our first dog owning moments were a bit rough!

2014-10-31 18.57.19
Bonnie was a totally different dog back then!

She was crate trained as a matter of safety to herself as I couldn’t bear to think of coming home to her seriously injured out of her own curiosity or the house totally wrecked as there is only so much clearing away you can do unless you have an empty room to spare. The crate training has been a great help in that it helped her learn how to settle and relax instead of pacing all the time (the pacing happened no matter how much we exercised her physically and mentally), she has a safe space where she can go if she feels scared, doesn’t want to be bothered or just wants to enjoy a treat by herself and also it means if she ever needs crate rest after a surgery or illness it won’t be foreign or scary to her.

With your own dogs how did you know it was time for them to be able to be safe and not cause damage when you were out? Have you had a dog that never “graduated” to total free roaming due to safety or other reasons?

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4 thoughts on “DIY Potty Bells and a Pen

    1. It’s definitely good if they have an obvious “tell” to let you know but this is a great way for them to be proactive like you said. It’s especially good for quiet dogs who don’t whine or bark to be let out.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Both our boys stay in their crates when we are out for totally different reasons – Kasper had SA and his crate is his safe place. On top of that as soon as we leave a room he immediately begins searching for something, anything, to eat – after the incident where he opened a baby gate and ate so much kibble the vet said if he was smaller he would be dead, he is a crate dog haha! Raiden loves his crate but I think we *could* leave him free roaming, only issue is he NEVER sleeps outside his crate. Ever. Also now we have Pixie I have no idea where I could leave Rey uncrated, Kasper doesn’t like him so not in the same room as Kasp, and I would not leave Pixie and Rey together 😛

    Pixie has never been left in a crate the entire time we’ve had her. She was crated overnight for about a week but she hated the crate and we just don’t need it anymore…I do want to crate train her in future, for vet visits and such, but she’s good out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember that time with Kasper, that must’ve been terrifying like. It’s definitely better to have that piece of mind knowing he can’t hurt himself while you aren’t there.
      Yea it definitely gets more difficult with more dogs with trying to accommodate for their different personalities and need for space etc. It definitely handy having them crate trained because even if they get on well to begin with if any issues happen in future between them at least you can crate and rotate then.
      That’s awesome that Pixie does so well out of the crate, it really is just down to the individual dog and what they can cope with. Yea it’s definitely a useful skill to have but fingers crossed yous won’t be in any rush to teach it!

      Liked by 1 person

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