Doorbell manners are an important, but often overlooked, behavior that should be a part of every well-behaved dog’s skill set. Many dogs get overly excited by the sound of a ringing doorbell or knock on the door, and this can be frustrating for owners. Thankfully, there are a few simple methods for desensitizing your dog to these sounds, and building up their doorbell manners through dedicated training.
Tips for Teaching Doorbell Manners
Create a Positive Association With the Sound
- Retraining your dog’s response to the sound of a doorbell or knocking door is an effective first step. Creating a positive association through the use of treats is one way to accomplish this.
- Offer your dog a treat and ring the doorbell while they are eating it. If they keep eating and don’t react to the sound, praise them and repeat. If they get distracted, start over and keep practicing. Once they’re consistently focusing on the treat instead of the sound, begin ringing the doorbell first, then offering the treat. Praise your dog if they react calmly without barking or becoming excited.
Practice “Go To Place”
- Once your dog has become accustomed to the sound, a good next step is to teach them to “go to place” when the doorbell rings. This will give them something to do besides barking or jumping on visitors.
- When the doorbell rings, get your dog’s attention with a treat, praise them, and lure them to their bed or crate. Give them the treat once they’re in the place you’ve led them to. Repeat this over several days.
- Once your dog is consistently following you, introduce a phrase like “go to bed” or “place” as you continue to guide them, then treat when they’ve made it there. Over time, you can phase out physical lure (treat) and use the command on its own, offering the treat after your dog is in place.
- Practice teaching your dog to “go to place” through repetition with the doorbell. You can have a friend help your dog practice with a visitor.
Consistency Is Key
- The goal when training doorbell manners is for the sound of itself to become the cue for your dog to “go to place” and wait to receive a treat. This allows you to retrieve packages, talk to a person, or let your guests in without your dog getting hyped up or in the way, and will make door interactions safer and less stressful for everyone, dog and human.
- Keep a treat jar near the door in the event of an unexpected visitor or delivery. That way, you can quickly reward your dog if they behave as you want them to at the sound of the doorbell.
- If you don’t have a doorbell, or want to add another layer of training, work through the above steps, but replace the ringing doorbell with the sound of a door knocking. It can be helpful to teach dogs to respond the same way to either sound when visitors or deliveries arrive.
Test Your Skills
Behaving appropriately after a doorbell ring or knock on the door is one of the ten required skills for adult dogs in order to complete the AKC Virtual Home Manners title. Virtual Home Manners is the answer when you want to train your dog at home, and the program can get you started on practical skills even before you attend any training classes.