Does the ding dong of the doorbell turn your dog into a real ding dong? Does the UPS man stand back at the curb to deliver your packages, for fear that your little Cujo might bust through the door? Or were the trick-or-treaters in for a real, live horror house at Halloween? Barking, growling, rushing up to or jumping up on guests are all common complaints that we hear as dog trainers. This behavior is frustrating and embarrassing…but it is also something that is completely fixable.
Teaching your dog not to charge the door when the doorbell rings is something that we have to train using layered dog obedience training. It also requires that you commit to being consistent with your dog’s training 100% of the time. Set your dog up for success and don’t send mixed signals by allowing them and rewarding them for jumping up on YOU when you walk through the door if you don’t want them to greet your guests in the same manner.
Obedience training, however, is just a piece of the puzzle…establishing yourself as the leader goes hand in hand with how to prevent your dog from rushing the door.
The way we at Koru K9 Dog Training correct this unwanted behavior is by teaching the dog a “place.” To start this can be their bed, a crate, or a mat, etc. Eventually once the dog learns the command, place can be anywhere. For example, Nero and Luna have a “place” in the kitchen where they wait while I prep their food and a “place” where they wait as I answer the door.
Teaching the dog a “place” command comes after the dog has been trained to sit/stay or down/stay. Start by guiding the dog with a leash and, if necessary, a lure to get them to understand where their “place” is. Make it a fun game for the dog…their place should be a cool spot for them to go hang out at. They get their favorite treat or toy for just walking over and laying on this comfy bed or mat…score!
What starts off in short distance and duration and leading or luring ends up into practice with just a verbal command from farther distances. You should be able to give your dog its “place” command from anywhere in the house. Duration goes from just a few seconds to a few minutes and even longer. This process is simplified in this paragraph, but is actually a series of baby steps set up in succession, that allows us to teach, strengthen and reward the dog’s good behavior.
Then the real test begins! The doorbell is introduced. Remember, only introduce distractions once the dog has a complete grasp on what you are asking them to do. This is not a behavior that is learned and proofed in a day. I can guarantee you that your dog will get up the first time you practice this. And on that note, PRACTICE is key. Don’t expect your dog to succeed with guest entries if you haven’t practiced this over and over (and OVER) again.
Chances are that your dog has spent quite a while perfecting it’s ding-dong doorbell behavior for some time, so it’s going to take some practice, patience and perseverance on your part. Over time, your dog will learn that the sound of the doorbell means they get to go to their party pad aka: their place.