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Behavior

Training Tips: Training Dogs to Ignore the Doorbell

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Dogs who go ballistic when the doorbell rings can be really irritating!

However, we need to see it from their perspective and ask ourselves to consider why they’re doing it and how they’re feeling. In order to change the way the dog responds to the stimulus, i.e. the doorbell, we must address the underlying emotion that is causing the response.

Here are some suggestions for helping your dog to have a different response to the doorbell or knocking at the door:

[heading style=”2″ color=”#996633″ style_color=”#996633″]Puppies and Doorbells[/heading]

If you have a puppy, you can avoid this having your dog ever react to a doorbell. Puppies aren’t born barking at doorbells, they learn to associate the doorbell with somebody on the other side of the door. If you desensitize your puppy to the doorbell and knocking from day one, you won’t have the “crazy doorbell dog”. Here are some tips on making sure your dog doesn’t develop a reactive response to doorbells.

1. Ring the doorbell many times, and knock on the door and walls, regularly so the puppy takes no notice.

2. Ring the bell while a family member is playing with her, while she’s eating or chewing on an interactive toy (such as the PetSafe Busy Buddy Waggle Dog Toy).

[heading style=”2″ color=”#996633″ style_color=”#996633″]Dogs Who are Already Reactive[/heading]

For a dog who has already learned to be reactive to the doorbell you will need to follow similar steps, plus some others, as follows:

1. To desensitize her to the sound of the bell and knocking you should ring the bell and knock on the door a lot – when you take her out for a walk, ring it on the way out, ignore her reaction and just say “let’s go” and carry on, when you come back, ring the bell as you come in the house, just walk right on in and tell her “good girl” when she stops barking.

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2. Give her a stuffed Kong toy (or other delicious chew treat/toy that will last a few minutes) and place her on leash near the front door (tethered if necessary or in an X-pen). Allow her to start chewing on the toy and then begin ringing the bell.

At first, she’ll probably go crazy but just wait and eventually she should start chewing on her toys.

If you do this often, she’ll reduce her reaction to the doorbell. You can also change the bell for one that makes a different sound, or disconnect it but she probably reacts to knocking in the same way, right?!

3. Another thing you can do is to take the dog to the door, ring the bell and throw a handful of treats in the opposite direction from the door so she takes off after them. Repeat many times. Eventually when the bell rings she will expect treats to rain down from the sky in the area you have been throwing the treats.

Doorbell Reactivity is a Learned Behavior

Dogs aren’t born barking at doorbells. They learn that when they hear the bell, there will be a stranger at the door. We need to change their perception of that by ringing the bell many times when there’s nobody there and letting them see that there is nobody there.

DO NOT:

  • yell at her
  • grab her
  • drag her away from the door
  • frighten her
  • intimidate her

If you leave her loose in the house when you’re not there you should avoid that because she’s probably practicing the behavior when you’re not there, or at the very least block off her access to the door and windows permanently.

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