Halloween can be exciting for the tiny humans in our lives but it can be stressful for pets. The constant ringing of doorbells or knocks at the door along with people’s faces sometimes being covered by masks can make a dog uneasy. Training a dog to be used to the doorbell ringing and to have them positively associate the ring of the bell with treats, can help dogs to be more calm and will (hopefully) result in less barking or stressful moments of trying to restrain a dog from excitedly greeting someone (who may be fearful of dogs) at the door. This post will help you to train your dog to be calm when the bell rings or someone knocks at the door. It is is part of the Trick or Treat Halloween Giveaway Blog Hop that includes a pretty amazing giveaway for readers. You increase your chances of winning by each of the visiting participating blogs (link at bottom of post).
Okay, let’s get to the training process. Remember when we wrote about training your dog to “sit to greet” awhile back? Probably not, since my mom seems to be the only one who reads every single one of my posts *waves to mom*. Here’s a link to that post. Staying calm when a doorbell rings is an extension of the “Sit to Greet” training explained previously. You’re, in essence, desensitizing the dog to the bell or other noise coming from the door and training the dog that the treat you’re about to give them is WAY BETTER than anything that can be at the door.
The Trick or Treat Giveaway Hop is sponsored by CleverPet, The Honest Kitchen, Planet Dog, and Health Extension. The opinions and ideas in this post are my own and are uninfluenced by any other person or business. The individual sponsors are responsible for their giveaway prizes including shipping.
So, how do you do that? First, grab your supplies: your dog (if you have more than one, try taking shifts teaching them before working with them together); a friend or family member who can help ring the doorbell or knock; lots of high-value treats, the stinkier the better; a clicker if you use clicker training. The final “supply” is an intangible, which is time. Be sure you are able to dedicate at least fifteen minutes of uninterrupted time with your dog, free of other distractions. Also, be aware that each dog is unique and it may take days or weeks of training for it to really “click.” Even then, it’s important to conduct refresher training sessions for all of the things you’ve trained occasionally to reinforce what they’ve learned.
It’s up to you to decide what you want your dog to do once the doorbell rings. You can have the dog go to another room or their crate, you can have them move away from the door and sit, or you can have them sit near you. We decided to have the dogs go to their bed located on the other side of the living room and sit when the bell rings. This way, they are still in our line of sight, but away from the door to avoid scaring guests that may be fearful of dogs. Our verbal cue for this is “bedtime.”
Here are some supplies (watch is there to indicate "time," sometimes we're clever). And also pumpkins because, Halloween.
Have your friend ring the doorbell.
Treat your dog, regardless of how they’re behaving. You want your dog to associate the bell and knock with a positive.
If you’ve trained your dog to go to a certain area of the home, like we have, give the verbal cue, like “bedtime,” and reinforce their behavior of going to their assigned spot and staying there with treats.
Have the person who’s helping you, ring the bell. Calmly state your verbal cue. Once your dog has gone to their assigned area, immediately click and treat.
Have the person who’s helping you, ring the bell. Calmly state your verbal cue. Click and treat once your dog has arrived in their spot. Continue to treat as your dog stays calmly, occasionally reinforcing by using the word “stay.”
Introduce a person at the door. Up to this point, you’ve been training with the sound of the bell, but the addition of a human at the door can be a distraction that needs to be accounted for in training too.
Without having the doorbell ring, have the person visible at the door. Inform your dog to go to their assigned spot and stay. Treat if they do so and as they continue to stay. As soon as they move towards the door, close it, and stop treats. This helps to show that treats only happen and they can only see the person if they are sitting and staying.
Combine the doorbell and the person at the door. As with prior steps, treat continually as the dog sits and stays in their assigned spot.
Well, not really. You’ll have to continue practicing at different times of the day, and with different humans at the door to really embed the training. As stated before, it can take awhile to master these steps and multiple training sessions.
Know your dog and decide what you think makes sense during times of high traffic. While training this skill is valuable so the dog doesn’t go crazy every time the bell rings, it may still make more sense to put your dog in a separate location in the home, away from distraction and stress, on holidays like Halloween. This is especially true if you’re the only person in the home, and you don’t have another person helping to greet the tiny humans at the door who are trick or treating. You kind of need one person to attend to the dogs, and one person to attend to the people at the door, since you want to continue to praise and reward for a job well done, even though the dog may now know the command.
We will be tucking the dogs away upstairs and playing calming music while the Halloween festivities occur. We have found that they get stressed during times of high traffic, which is why we’ve elected to use this tactic instead of having the dogs in the living room with us.
We have teamed together to give away prizes totaling in value at $850. Yes, you just read correctly. That’s some pretty amazing prize assembling, if you ask me!
$300 PetSmart Gift card
CleverPet Hub (valued at $299)
Golden Milk, Eggnog, Pumpkin Spice Latte, Cuddles, and Smooches from Honest Kitchen (valued at $68)
Halloween Trick Ball, Halloween Treat Ball, and Maple Leaf Nook from Planet Dog (valued at $50)
Duck & Yogurt Bully Puffs, Chicken & Cheddar Bully Puffs, Lamb & Peanut Butter Bully Puffs, Bacon & Liver Bully Puffs, and Bacon Chips (1 Bag Each) from Health Extension (valued at $40)
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