Dogs and Doorbells: How to Manage the Madness

Dogs and doorbells.  They go together like oil and water. The doorbell rings, and my two Pomeranians, Pookie and Pepper, go wild. The heightened excitement as the dogs race to the door, the barking which escalates in pitch with each step of the dogs, the pushing and pulling to get your dogs out of the way so you can answer the door, and the frantic conversation you have while simultaneously trying to prevent your dogs from squeezing through the open door to run outside. And if you actually have to let the person in the house, this situation is even more chaotic! How can you manage the madness that happens when the doorbell rings?

Here’s one thing that has worked at my house:

Teach your dog to go someplace else when the doorbell rings.

When my kid was younger, I didn’t want them opening the door with the dogs nearby. I was worried my dogs would race outside, or that they would scare another child coming over for a play date.  So, I taught my dogs to run to the kitchen, rather than the front door, when the doorbell rang.

Dogs are not hardwired to know what a doorbell means. It is through their daily life with their family that they learn the association between the doorbell and the front door. Instead, why not just teach your dogs that great things happen in another room when the doorbell rings?

Dogs are masters of learning associations.  The leash means a walk. The opening of a cupboard means they get a treat. Picking up the food bowl means dinner is on its way. You can make a similar association with the doorbell. For my dogs, the doorbell meant it was time to search for food in the kitchen!

To teach this simple association follow these five steps:

  1. Have someone ring the doorbell.
  2. Pick up some very tasty treats and show them to your dog.s
  3. Toss the treats in the kitchen.
  4. Answer the front door.

With practice, your dogs will soon learn the doorbell means treats show up in another room and will run to that location willingly. Eventually, my dogs would run to the kitchen when the doorbell rang even without treats being thrown. This allowed me to safely open the front door.

Rather than fighting the dogs at the front door, the dogs are now in a completely different room.

What do you do to manage the madness at the front door?


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