How to Keep Your Dog Calm When the Doorbell Rings

How to keep your dog calm when the doorbell rings

Dear Hindy,

Every time the doorbell rings Bella goes ballistic, barking like a lunatic and it takes forever to get her to stop. My kids have a lot of friends coming over so the bell is often ringing, and Bella is driving us nuts. What can we do? Thanks, Anna.

How to Keep Your Dog Calm When the Doorbell Rings

Dear Anna,

I know how tough that can be for everyone, and even put a damper on your kids’ fun. Let’s see how we can help.

They key to this is a technique called desensitisation, which is exactly what it says, desensitising her to the sound of the doorbell to the point where she no longer reacts. It’s such an easy thing to practice anytime of the day, all you need is someone to go outside, ring the doorbell and be the “visitor.” Bella will of course start barking but don’t do anything, just let her carry on until she stops. Resist the temptation to yell at her or even look at her, as hard as it will be.

Practice about 5 minutes at a time, a few times a day. Every dog learns at a different pace so it’s impossible to say how long it will take.

There are a few variations you can try, start with one and see how it goes, if not move on to another. Be sure to explain to your guests what you’re doing and enlist their support.

When she stops barking give her a treat and open the door.

When she stops barking open the door to let the visitor in, and let the person be the reward. If she loves company that may be enough.

Adding a bit to the second option, once the visitor is in the house, he or she can ask your dog to sit and give her a treat. Leave some outside for your visitors, but keep them off the ground so squirrels and the like don’t eat them!!

Good luck.


Hindy Pearson
I am a dog trainer and behaviour consultant, specialising in working with first time dog owners. Whether you're thinking of getting a dog and aren't sure if it's the right time, or you've been sharing your life with one for awhile but there are issues you can't resolve, I am here for you. No matter where in the world you live I can help.

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