By Sherri Romig CPDT-KA

Barking at the Doorbell

Whenever that bell rings, it predict that a visitor has arrived…a very exciting time for dogs, who are usually quite vocal about their excitement! The easiest way to stop doorbell barking is to change the meaning of the sound from “a guest is here!” to “it’s time for a cookie!”.

1. Get a bag of extra yummy treats and ring the doorbell with your dog standing beside you. As soon as the bell rings, pop a treat right in the dog’s mouth. Try to be quick and do this before your dog begins barking. Repeat several times until your dog pauses to look at you for a treat when the bell rings.

2. Ask a family member to go outside and ring the bell while you sit inside with the dog and treat every time the bell rings. Try to feed the treat fast, before the barking starts. Repeat until your dog is looking to you for a treat instead of barking when he hears the bell.

3. Start doing step 2 randomly. When the bell rings “unexpectedly”, give your dog a treat and then go about your business. After awhile, when the bell rings, the dog will assume it means “cookie time” and will come to you instead of run to the door barking like crazy.

Stealing off Counters

While management (keep your counters clear!) is good advice, a little training can go a long way in making things easier during the hustle and bustle of dinnertime.

1. Show your dog a treat and place it on a low table, keeping it slightly covered with your hand. Wait quietly while your dog tries to get the treat. As soon as he starts to move away from the treat, say “yes!” and give him an even yummier treat from hidden behind your back.

2. Repeat several times until your dog immediately moves away from the treat on the table. Now, try the game without covering the treat, but stand nearby to grab it fast if your dog goes for it!

3. Once your dog is doing great, choosing to stay away from the table, begin practicing with you standing further away and pretending not to watch, until your pup will still choose not to grab that treat, even if he thinks you aren’t paying attention.

4. Repeat the steps using more enticing forbidden items, and on different counters and tables. Before long, you will have a dog who reliably chooses not to steal things off of counters and tables, even when alone!

* It is important not to use a cue, like “no” or “leave it” with this game. We want our dogs to comply with this exercise, even when we aren’t there to give the cue.

Greeting Guests at the Door

Our dogs are just as eager to say hello to guests as we are, but their style of greeting is often a bit overwhelming! Teaching our dogs to sit to say hello to guests is one of several easy ways to get polite greeting manners.

1. Make sure your dog has a strong and reliable “sit” cue. Go outside, then come back in and immediately cue your dog to sit. As soon as he does, bend down to give him lots of praise and attention. (giving a treat too will help make training go faster). Repeat this step a few times.

2. Play the game again, but this time don’t cue your dog to sit. Just come in and wait expectantly. As soon as he sits, reward! Repeat this step several times.

3. For this step, when you come in, you will wait for your dog to sit without being asked. If he does, reward! If instead of sitting, he jumps up, say “too bad” and go back outside to try again.

4. Repeat steps 1-3 with all family members, and any friends and neighbors who are willing to help. Before long, your dog will have learned that sitting is a great way to greet guests and jumping up just makes them disappear. You will soon see your dog start to sit automatically when you go to the door, in eager anticipation of greeting friends!