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  • Writer's pictureVirginia Dare

Ding Dong -- the dreaded doorbell

A quiet dog at the door is a delight!

If you're an introvert like me, you may not love the sound of the doorbell, especially if it signals the unexpected arrival of someone you're not prepared to receive. If you're an extrovert who loves to chat with someone any time of the day, the doorbell sound may bring on happy feelings.

Dogs can have a wide range of feelings about people who come to the door and it's not uncommon for them to go nuts when they hear the sound of the doorbell, barking and running to the door in a heightened state of activity. Perhaps it's pure excitement about the prospect of greeting a guest. Or maybe the dog doesn't like the idea of someone entering their sanctuary and their barking is designed to make the person go away.

Whatever the reason behind the barking, we can actually change the dog's emotional response to the doorbell and dramatically reduce the barking. Training would begin before anyone is actually coming to the door and the basic steps are as follows:

  • Arm yourself with exceptionally yummy treats

  • With your dog close by and watching, ring the bell and then promptly follow that sound with a treat

  • Pause, then repeat, until the dog hears the bell and looks happily at you with the expectation of receiving a yummy treat

  • Gradually work toward 'surprise' bell ringing to solidify the training

If your dog already has a deeply ingrained response to your current doorbell sound, you can make the task easier by switching to a new/novel sound that they have no previous experience with. Folks with systems like Ring have built-in chime options, or you can install a wireless doorbell that has many chime options to choose from. Then, simply pair that new sound with treat delivery so the dog learns to come to you for a treat whenever they hear the sound.

Of course, additional training steps are an important part of a behavior modification program when working with a dog who fears or dislikes strangers who come to your door, but helping them develop a more positive emotional response to a doorbell is a very helpful piece of the program.

Dealing with some challenging behaviors that you're not sure how to address?

Let's discuss options for in-person or remote training services.

You can reach me at

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