Other more experienced people here might have much better understanding of the methods to train this, but what I did was to begin the training with a touch command.
I would probably go back to training kind of from the beginning because now she is used to barking at the bell, right?
- I would put my hand near the bell, treat etc, and go nearer and nearer the bell until she touches the bell with her nose.
- Then you could raise the criteria by making her touch only the bell with her nose. (you could use your "touch" hand to point at the bell and help her).
- For one day or two, I would take a moment to train this: leash her up, when she touches the bell with her nose, you would immediately open the door and step outside with her. Go inside again, she wants to go outside, she will touch the bell again. Repeat that some times, but not too many so would not be a boring game.
I feel the main problem people have with using the bell is that our beloved fluffy balls will ring the bell much more often than they actually need to go potty. My Pira uses the bell and I very happy about the results. She does try sometimes to ring it when she "just wants to go outside", but I have learned to distinguish the two different kind of rings. I took me a very long time to figure out these differences.
1) Whe she hears something outside (another dog barking, etc) she would excitedly go to the door and BELL! But she does not stop at the door and wait, she keeps walking around with her tail wagging. Same happens when she does not hear anything. She would still be very excited and just be walking in circles with a ball in her mouth. I have learned that with Pira, that means *no potty*.
2) If she rings the bell and looks intensely at us, sits or lay down in front of the door and waits patiently, that means she *does* need to go potty.
I know every dog is different, so I don't know what kind of other signs dogs give unintentionally that would be easy to differentiate between time go potty or just wanting to go outside to play and sniff around.
Good luck! Keep us posted!