Sudden ear-piercing, non-stop barking, charging the door, and acting like a maniac. Does this describe your dog when the doorbell rings?
Doorbell = Dinner Approach
This common problem is relatively easy to deal with by teaching a behavior or response that is incompatible with that craziness. If your puppy is very young, you can start now to associate the ringing of the doorbell with dinner time. This is a very easy approach and simply involves ringing the doorbell followed by presenting supper in the kitchen. You can even serve dinner in their crate as an alternative.Very quickly the bell will signal that it is time to run to the kitchen for dinner or to the crate.
Doorbell = Dinner and A Brief Visit
The next step is to introduce the arrival of a person when the bell rings. It is best to start with a situation that you can control and keep brief. This is what pizza delivery is for. You know that the delivery person is not going to be there long nor are they likely to interact with your dog. This is an ideal situation in that the bell has not signalled to your dog that someone who is likely to praise and play with your dog has arrived. It has signalled the presentation of dinner and the arrival of someone who is totally uninterested in them (the pizza guy). If you look at it from your dog’s point of view, when the doorbell rings it often means something very exciting is going to happen in the way of friends for instance. This is the connection that we want to replace with the doorbell equaling dinnertime.
Doorbell = Dinner And A Boring Visitor
After you have practiced with the pizza delivery guy a few times, think about hiring a neighborhood child to ring the bell at a specified time. Quickly present Fido’s yummy dinner in the kitchen. Now calmly welcome your visitor into your home, and make sure they COMPLETELY IGNORE Fido. Yes. That’s right – completely ignore, not even making eye contact or saying Fido’s name. Practice this as often as possible before going on to the next step.
Your next step is to arrange for a cooperative friend to come over. Again, as soon as the bell rings, go to the kitchen and present Fido with his specially prepared and delectable dinner. Make it something very special and not something he is likely to leave without finishing. Make sure your friend understands that this is training and is willing to follow these rules:
- No petting, eye contact, or use of your dog’s name until your dog has settled down for several minutes
- After your dog has been calm they may go to your dog and calmly and quietly interact with the understanding that if your dog becomes excited they should walk away and not again interact until your dog is settled again
As you step up these practice sessions and you see that your dog is anticipating by running to the kitchen for dinner when the bell rings you can start to consider having real visitors. Hopefully, as friends, they will be willing to cooperate with this until your dog has learned to be calm and polite even when the doorbell rings and you have visitors.
I love this video of a dog that has been clicker trained to not only go his crate but to close the door behind himself. Beautiful! And this is especially easy to train if you have already been clicker training.