It’s a quiet Sunday afternoon, the baby is napping--finally--dad's watching the football game, and your preschooler is coloring at the kitchen table while you start preparing the evening meal. All is peaceful and calm. Suddenly, the doorbell rings and everyone's blood pressure goes through the roof! Why? Because your two adorable min pins, Susie and Sam, are going to go crazy, barking uncontrollably and hysterically.
Soon, the baby is awake and screaming, dad is yelling at the dogs, and your preschooler looks like she wants to cry. Does it have to be like this every time the doorbell rings? Thankfully, no! The chaos that ensues every time the doorbell rings and your dogs go nuts is avoidable and correctable. The training and time you put in will be well worth it and paid back in future calm Sunday afternoons.
To avoid barking and crazy behavior from your dog every time the doorbell rings, you will want to train your dog to ignore the doorbell, be calm when it rings, and possibly, to look for or perform another behavior other than barking. Alternative behaviors might be to sit quietly, look for a treat, go to a mat, or go to a crate.
How you train your dog to react to the doorbell will depend on the situation and your dog. A frightened or aggressive dog may be better off leaving the situation and going to another place in the home, whereas a friendly and excited dog may be taught calmer responses and still get to remain near the door. Remember, your dog is just trying to warn you that someone is approaching your property. Even young dogs will quickly learn to associate the doorbell with someone, often a stranger, approaching the home and will react by barking. Your goal is to teach your dog to stop barking when commanded, and for your dog to remain calm.
Make sure you set your dog up to succeed with training by setting training time dedicated to teaching your dog to be calm when the doorbell rings on a consistent basis. Having an assistant set up to play a visitor and ring the doorbell, so you can be ready and control the situation, will be very useful. Other training aids, like treats for rewards and a clicker or quiet place like a crate or bed for your dog to go be calm at, can also be used. Do not yell at your dog or punish him when the doorbell rings and they start barking, as this only excites and provides a negative association with the doorbell that will exacerbate the behavior. Make sure everyone in the household is on board with the training plan so that training is consistent.