Ask the Trainer | Who’s that knocking at the door? |

Ask the Trainer | Who’s that knocking at the door?

Carla Brown
Carla Brown
Special to the Sun

Dear Carla,

Our dog Rosie is very friendly and she loves everyone she meets. When visitors come to our house she goes completely nuts. She goes into a barking frenzy at the sound of the doorbell or a knock at the door because she is so excited that someone is coming over to see her. We know sheand#8217;s harmless, but our visitors are often intimidated. How can we teach her to control herself?

and#8212; Going a little crazy

Dear Crazy,

There is something about the sound of a doorbell that makes dogs go crazy, but the type of crazy varies greatly. Protective breeds feel the need to warn all potential intruders to and#8220;go away or else,and#8221; social butterflies canand#8217;t wait to see who has come to play with them, and fearful dogs just want the visitor to leave so they wonand#8217;t have to deal with the scary situation. You are fortunate Rosie loves visitors, but she does need to learn some polite ways to greet them.

There are many potential solutions to the doorbell problem, but one of the easiest is to teach Rosie the sound of a doorbell is a cue to do something. A cue is anything that gives the dog information about what you want them to do. It can be a word, hand gesture or sound. The process Iand#8217;ve outlined below will teach Rosie the sound of the doorbell means and#8220;run to you and get a treat.and#8221;

1. Place her on a leash and have someone ring the doorbell. Immediately give her a treat. Do this exercise two times per day for about five minutes. You are desensitizing her to the sound of the doorbell through repetition and she is also learning that the sound of the doorbell predicts wonderful treats.

2. Next, work off leash and position yourself a short distance from her. Have someone ring the doorbell. Now Rosie has to move toward you to get the treat.

3. Gradually increase the distance she has to move toward you for the treat. When she will move towards you from anywhere in the room, add a and#8220;sitand#8221; cue before rewarding. This step ensures that Rosie will run up to you and automatically sit when she hears the doorbell.

4. The final step is to continue adding distance by working with her in a different room. She should learn to run and find you from anywhere in the house when she hears the doorbell.

Your diligent training will pay off with a polite dog who will impress instead of scare your visitors.

and#8212; If you have a pet topic/issue you would like to see covered in the Ask the Trainer column, please email Carla Brown at

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