Training a Puppy to Move Away From the Door When the Doorbell Rings

By: David Codr

Published Date: August 13, 2018

For this Omaha puppy training session we worked with Sammy, a 6 month-old Cockapoo who nips his guardians when another guardian approaches while he is being petted.

Sammy lives with a large family who love him very much. But his aggressive puppy behavior clearly had impacted them. Some of the kids were afraid to pet or approach Sammy and that can actually cause some dogs to nip or continue that behavior.

You can see Sammy react to one of the kid’s trepidation while petting him in the video below.

This can quickly become a self perpetuating cycle. The more the dog nips the more the person is reticent. The more reticent they are when interacting, the more the dog interprets that they think they are doing something wrong and .. nip.

The video above was actually much longer than that, but I edited it down as post session I thought of a better approach than what I suggested at the time.

Id like the family to start saying “hulk” or “Jekyll” or another word any time that Sammy gets stiff or arches his back as he did in the video. As soon as that word is used, the person petting he dog needs to stop immediately. If the stiffness was caused by someone approaching the dog while someone else was petting him, the approaching person should call to Sammy with a warm happy voice as I did, then give his command to come.

This way Sammy stops being petted which can reinforce the unwanted behavior. Additionally, asking the dog to come to you is a great way to flip the leader follower dynamic of the interaction. This solution should stop any further nips or aggressive behavior and give the family a chance to practice another dog psychology based exercise that will help.

Id like to see the family members all take turns hand feeding him for the next month for every meal. The child most anxious about being nipped was brave enough to allow me to lead her through this approach to stop a dog from nipping people.

Hand feeding Sammy this way will tackle the dog behavior problem from the other end. Not only will this condition Sammy to being touched when he is eating or has a high value item, it should restore the confidence the kids have in petting the dog.

After a month of stopping petting and calling Sammy away combined with tactile contact while eating, this aggressive behavior when being petted should be history. The family will need to reach out to us to add in a few additional things if this is not the case a month from now.

Another recommendation was that the family members all start walking Sammy. Right now only 2 of the kids are walking him. But more exercise and regular positive interactions with the kids will help with many of these issues. With 5 kids, the family can spread the work load and get him multiple walks each day which will also help Sammy develop more respect for them.

Another issue was Sammy’s habit of barking and rushing the door when the doorbell rings. I decided to use some classical conditioning to train the puppy to move away from the door when he hears the doorbell.

If the family practices this doorbell exercise 1-3 times a day for a week with 10 treats each practice session, Sammy will start to move to the carpeted spot away from the door when he hears thew doorbell. The family will get the best results from this positive puppy training exercise by practicing 3 x a day for a week solid. You really want to build momentum with this sort of exercise.

Another tip would be to put a sign on the door asking people to knock instead of ringing the bell for a week. This way the puppy will only hear the door bell during practice which will accelerate the training.

I have to say, I was pretty happy with this exercise. I have never trained a puppy to move away from the door when the bell rings, but its a really simple exercise that should work within a few additional practice sessions.

Sammy’s behavior is concerning coming from a puppy his age. Another suggestion I made was to have the family sign him up for our puppy 201 and 301 classes. Our puppy socialization classes teach basic obedience but more importantly help a pup develop good social skills.

To help the family remember all the dog behavior tips I shared with them in this in home dog training we shot a roadmap to success video.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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