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Stop your dog 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 pup 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 dog is making?

If your pup 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 dog to be civilized when the doorbell rings.

YOU  should answer the doorbell – not your dog. Certainly he can accompany you, but he should not be charging in front of you, jumping around, or making ongoing noise.

He should feel confident that YOU  are the one who will face potential "threats" at the door. That's a leader's job.

If that isn't happening at your house, you'll need a friend to help you. In fact, several friends would be great – although 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 dog 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 behavioral issue, which means he shouldn't be off leash inside the house.

Because how can you correct a dog if you can't easily and immediately get hold of him?

Right on schedule, 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 excited pup launches into action, springing into the air, bellowing threats, 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, between you and the door, stop. Don't take another step toward the door.

Instead, use the leash-handling techniques you learned from my leash training article to maneuver your dog to a position beside you, or even 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 your dog is 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.

Boxer dogNow take one step toward the door. If he rushes again, stop and repeat your leash-handling techniques. (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. Hopefully you've taught your pup to Wait, so use those techniques to stop his door rushing. And remember, if he's hard to control with the leash, he needs a different collar.

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

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.

My best-selling books – now available  FREE  on my website

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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. Click here to read for free.
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