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Stop Puppy From Rushing the Doorbell

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Breed Selection Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

German Shepherd in charge of the door

A watchdog should, well, watch. And sound the alarm. But beyond that is your job. No dog should be allowed to decide who is okay and who is not, or who is welcome in your home and who is not. That's your job.

When someone comes to the door, do you need to grab at your puppy and try to shush him while you're trying to open the door?

Do you find yourself trying to read your visitor's lips over the racket your pup is making?

If your puppy keeps barking or lunging at people even after you've answered the door...

  • he is either barking mindlessly, with no self-control
  • OR  he is taking it upon himself to decide whether your visitor is a threat, when he should be leaving that decision up to the leader... which is supposed to be you.

Either way, this is not the behavior or attitude you want.

Once your pup has sounded the alarm, he should turn the situation over to you. If YOU decide the person at the door is harmless, your pup should accept your judgment and be quiet.

Teach your pup to be civilized when the doorbell rings.

YOU  should answer the doorbell – not your puppy. Certainly he can accompany you, but he should not charging around in front of you. You want him to feel confident that YOU  are the one who will face potential "threats" at the door. That's a leader's job.

If that doesn't describe what's happening at your house, you'll need a friend to help you. In fact, several friends would be better – though not all at once!

English Springer Spaniel

A watchdog should, well, watch. And sound the alarm. But beyond that is your job. No dog should be allowed to decide who is okay and who is not, or who is welcome in your home and who is not. That's your job.

Here's the set-up. You sit on the sofa pretending to watch TV. Your puppy is lying down or sitting or standing near you. Of course, he's on leash, yes? A pup who isn't responding to the doorbell properly has a behavior issue, which means he shouldn't be off leash inside the house.

Because how can you correct a dog who you can't get hold of?

The doorbell rings. You've already told your friend to ring just once,  no matter how long it takes you to open the door.

Your pup launches into action, springing into the air, possibly yelling with excitement and rushing for the door. Thank heavens he's attached to the leash, so he can't get very far, but he gives it his best shot, scrabbling across the floor and snappng the leash taut.

We don't want any of that.

So if your pup is in front of you, stop. Don't take another step toward the door.

Instead, use the leash-handling techniques you learned from my leash training article to get your puppy to a position beside you and slightly behind you. Then loosen the leash so the clip hangs straight down and there is a U-shape in the leash.

Repeat and repeat and repeat, making each tug firmer than the previous one until finally he chooses to stay beside or behind you on a loose leash.

If he's too strong for you, he needs a different collar.

Once you have him under control while you're standing still, you'll probably find that the barking has stopped too. If not, correct the barking with these techniques.

Boxer dogNow take one step toward the door. If he rushes again, stop and repeat your leash-handling technique. (Hopefully you've chosen a patient friend and explained that it might be a while before you actually open the door!)

Eventually, you should be able to reach the door with your pup walking calmly beside or behind you.

Now open the door. If he tries to rush past you, don't hold him back with the leash. He won't learn anything that way. Have you taught your pup to Wait yet? Use those techniques to stop his door rushing. And remember, if he keeps ignoring it, he needs a different collar.

And if your puppy JUMPS on the person when you let them in? Here's how to handle jumping.

My book covertraining program is for puppies 2 to 18 months old. It explains, step by step:

  • How to establish good patterns and routines that govern everything your pup does.
  • How to teach your pup to be calm and to look to you for guidance, direction, and permission.
  • How to make yourself important – the most important thing – in your puppy’s life. How to show your pup the clear, black-and-white rules and routines he is to follow. And how to make sure he does.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life.
book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.