Training a Chow Chow to Stop Barking at the Doorbell

By: Sam Kanouse

Published Date: November 10, 2017

In this Omaha dog training session we worked with 7 year-old Chow Chow/ Lab mix, ChaCha, who is very reactive to the doorbell and reactive to guests.

When I arrived ChaCha was anxious and continued to bark at me until I had sat down in the living room with her guardians. Initially the guardians kept ChaCha on a leash, which can cause further reactivity. Dogs have an opposition reflex and pull against pressure, often leading them to get more and more worked up. I asked the guardians to drop the leash and she quickly calmed down once she was able to greet me.

One of the main dog behavior concerns that the guardians had was ChaCha’s doorbell reactivity and reactivity to guests when entering the home. I started off with using a counterconditioning method to reward ChaCha for being calm when she heard the doorbell. Since she was too anxious I turned this into a game of catch and increased the distance between her and the doorbell itself to help her calm down. To see how I accomplished this, you can watch the video below.

As you can see in the video, ChaCha was still anxious until I moved her much farther from the doorbell. When dogs get anxious and worked up it helps to move them farther and farther away from the thing that they are reacting to. This can help them gain self-control and begin to regulate their emotional response. The guardians will want to continue to work on this with ChaCha until she can listen to the doorbell without barking and becoming anxious. Baby steps (slowly getting her closer and closer to the door) is the key!

By the end of the session ChaCha was calmly laying down and visibly relaxing. The guardians will want to remember to keep using our structured eating exercise to help her look to them for leadership and direction. To keep up this good behavior they will also want to use our Escalating Consequences to disagree with her and our Petting with a Purpose technique to reward her for good behavior. We wrapped up this behavior session with ChaCha’s Roadmap to Success video, which you can watch below.

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