The Dreaded Doorbell




The doorbell can be one of the most challenging sounds for many dogs. If your dog overreacts to the sound of a doorbell you will want to help them change how they feel about it.

To start, disconnect the doorbell, or cover it up so visitors can’t press it and get people to ring you when they arrive instead of knocking on the door. Putting a sign on the door will really help prevent mishaps. This will give you instant relief and a chance to build a new association at your dog’s pace

Consider changing the sound your doorbell makes. You can get a brand new doorbell, or select a different tone if your doorbell has this feature. This will help you build a positive association from scratch, without having to overcome negative experiences with the original sound.

Record the sound of your doorbell. You can then play this back at a low volume and give your dog something they enjoy each time. This can be playing with you after they hear the sound, tossing a treat for them to get, or scattering treats for them to find. Gradually increase the volume over several sessions before using the actual doorbell. In time your dog will start to anticipate good things every time they hear these sounds.

Teach your dog that the sound of the doorbell is a cue to do something. This could be going to their mat or other specific location. It could also be to come and find you. Teach the behaviour first on a separate cue without the doorbell. You can then add the doorbell as a new cue by making the sound immediately before cueing the behaviour. Over several repetitions your dog will start to understand that the doorbell means to do that behaviour. Make sure you reward generously every time they get it right!

Practice playing the doorbell randomly throughout the day and reward your dog every time they offer the new behaviour. If they struggle with this you’ll want to make it easier for your dog by practicing more at the earlier stages.

Now you can enlist friends, family or neighbours to help you practice with the doorbell in place.

Repeat these steps for knocking as well and in time you may be able to remove any remaining management.

Putting the time into mastering these steps can make a huge difference to life at home with your dog.

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