It can be a constant embarrassment when you have guests round. The doorbell rings and immediately your dogs leap up, sprinting to the front of the house so they can bark, jump up and generally make a racket.
Luckily, dogs can be trained out of this behaviour. The first step is to try and see things from the dogs’ point of view. The doorbell is a loud noise that is followed either by somebody new, somebody they like or somebody they are scared of. That is a situation that is bound to cause excitement and agitation.
You need to convince your dogs that the doorbell is not a big deal. This is much easier if you have already trained them to sit or stay. Make sure they can do this calmly and sensibly, and reward them with treats if you are not already doing so.
Next, start training them to understand that the doorbell means that they should be calm. Get your dogs to sit, and reward them accordingly. Then, ring the doorbell. If they sit calmly, they get a treat. If they don’t, then command them to sit and try again.
Eventually, your dogs will be calm and quiet when the doorbell rings because they associate it with them getting a reward. You can begin to phase out the treats at this stage. Now, you can start to look at making your dogs understand that the doorbell isn’t interesting at all.
When you have phased out the treats, start ringing the doorbell during times when your dogs’ attention is otherwise occupied. For example, you could give them a bowl of premium dog food, or have someone play with them in another room.
Do not reward them at this stage, as they should already be quiet and calm. Instead, ring the doorbell but do not come through the door or pay your dogs any attention. They will soon get bored and go back to their previous activities.
Eventually, your dogs will not only associate the doorbell with calm behaviour, but also with a lack of interest. They will not see it as anything exciting, and so they will not run to the door or bark every time it goes off.
Written by: Hannah