Training Your Dog – Polite Door Greetings, Part 2

Reduce doorbell excitement by teaching “Go To Your Mat”

A common complaint of many dog owners is how their dog behaves around the front door when the doorbell rings. Whether the dog is barking, jumping up on visitors, or running out the door, there are a range of behaviors that many dog owners would like to change. This is especially important for parents with young children, as excitement around the door can lead to children being knocked down or frightened.

One of the easiest things to start with is using the doorbell as a cue for your dog to go to a mat or bed. What?!! How is that possible. Well, here’s a training plan for how to turn the ringing of the doorbell into a fun, new game for your dog. Let’s get to it!

What you’ll need:

  • Find a ringtone or sound effect that sounds like your doorbell that you can have on your smartphone
  • Put a mat or dog bed near the door
  • Have a six foot or four foot dog leash handy
  • Get some small, tasty, low and high value treats that your dog will want to work for

How to start:

  • Put your dog’s leash on. Say “Go to your mat” and lead your dog over to the mat
  • Say “Yes” and treat them for any behavior on the mat (stand/sit/down) but feed higher value treats for sit or down
  • Continue to feed treats for a few more seconds, then release them with an “OK” before they get off the mat
  • Repeat 3 times, see if you can get them to stay on the mat a few more seconds each practice, and then take a break
  • When this gets easy, add the doorbell sound

Adding the Doorbell:

  • At a low volume, ring the doorbell sound on your phone
  • Say “Go to your bed”, lead your dog to the bed and treat them for any behavior on the mat (stand/sit/down), again higher value treats for sit/down
  • Aim for keeping your dog on the mat for 10 seconds
  • Each time you practice, increase the volume of the doorbell sound.

Don’t forget to have patience. Your dog has probably spent a while practicing being over-aroused by the doorbell. It is going to take some practice to teach a calmer, new behavior. Stay tuned for the final steps-welcoming real guests!!

Download the SAFE Dog Bite Prevention Kit for Kids

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