Dogs that bark incessantly when the doorbell rings can be quite annoying. To a dog, the sound of a doorbell ringing can often have an association of excitement, anxiety or aggression. And how could it not. When our doorbell rings, we start screaming and running around like maniacs. This makes our dogs behave the same way. The key is for your dog to associate the sound of the doorbell with being calm and relaxed.
A while back I worked with a client who was told by a “dog trainer” (those who know me understand why those words are in quotes) that, among other ridiculous techniques, she should ring the doorbell, flip the dog onto his back and growl in his face. This would let the dog understand that it was not the way he should react. Obviously that didn’t work.
Of course this technique is stupid. But that’s beside the point. First of all, flipping your dogs onto his back is not appropriate. This could take that excitement, aggression, anxiety, or whatever the dog is feeling to a whole other level. From your dog’s perspective, they are learning that at the sound of the doorbell the humans become nervous and will attack him.
You want to teach your dog not to attach any special significance to the sound of the doorbell. Using the sound of the doorbell is the right thing. What you need to do is get your dog(s) to sit calmly for a treat first, and then ring the doorbell. If he does not react to it, give him the treat. If he does react, redirect him with the smell of the treat (but do not give it to him). Get him to sit calmly and wait, then repeat the process. This will teach your dog that the doorbell equals getting a reward, but only if he is calm.
Eventually, you’ll be able to do away with the treats. If you have multiple dogs, address the one that gets the others going. The most dominant one. This will show the other dogs how to deal with the doorbell your way and not the dog’s way. Above everything else, you have to always remain calm and relaxed. Teach by example.
If you need additional help or guidance, let me know if I can help.
Always remember: BP4 – Be: Patient, Positive, Peaceful & Persistent
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