You Can Teach Him to Greet Visitors Politely
Lots of dog owners hate the sound of their own doorbell. Not because they hate having visitors, but because their dog goes “ballistic” when it rings and mayhem takes over; grab the dog’s collar with one hand, reach for the door with the other, back the dog away from the door while yelling “Come in, it’s open!”
It is possible to get even the most enthusiastic canine “greeter” to behave. All it takes is a lot patience, a mat, and your smart phone.
Just a mat, an app, and some treats are all it takes
First find an app that sounds like your doorbell. There are lots of free doorbell apps, many with multiple doorbell sounds. If it’s not identical, don’t worry, the app is a transitional step and “close” is good enough.
Next find a mat (or towel or carpet remnant) large enough for your dog to lie down on. Every time the dog gets near the mat, throw a treat on it. He’ll figure out pretty quickly that the mat is a wonderful place to be and won’t want to leave it.
You don’t really have to say anything at this stage, although when he get on the mat you can say “Good place!” You can call it anything you want instead of “place,” but that’s what we use and it’s easy to remember. The only train for a few minutes at a time, several times a day.
Be sure to pick up the mat when your short training sessions are over. If he goes to his “place” and doesn’t get a reward the behavior will lose some of the value you’ve worked so hard to create.
Once the dog adores going to his place (don’t skimp on the treats), it’s time to introduce the doorbell sound. When you put down the mat and he heads toward it, hit the doorbell sound. If he continues to his “place” toss the cookie onto the mat, just like before. If he hesitates or runs for the door, just wait. He may be confused at first. Give him a little time to remember what he’s supposed to be doing.
Be patient and let your dog learn
If he doesn’t, go back a step and just reward him for going to the mat, reminding him it’s a “good place.” Every dog is trainable and learns at his own pace. There’s no timetable for training, he will get it if you’re patient.
After the doorbell app becomes a trigger for your dog going to his “place,” start using the actual doorbell. Put the mat just a few feet from the door, so your dog’s place will be out of the way but still close enough to throw the treats.
Be sure to toss the treats on the mat to reinforce where the cookies will be. You want to have a little distance so that, eventually, you’ll be able to go answer the door while your dog charges to his “place” and gets reinforcements.
Dog training is a step-by-step process. The most complex behaviors start with tiny increments. First teach the dog his “place.” Then to associate his place with the doorbell. Then to dash over to his place whenever the doorbell rings. Be sure to keep a container of dog treats by the door so you can reward your dog while you’re answering the bell.
For a few minutes work every day, you’ll be able to welcome the sound of the doorbell.