Trainer reveals a big mistake we make with reactive dogs when the doorbell goes — and what to do instead

Dog standing at the door
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Whether it's the mail getting delivered or a friend popping by to say hello, having your dog barking up a storm every time the doorbell goes off is enough to send your stress levels soaring.

While giving your fur friend one of the longest lasting dog chews can help distract them and keep them occupied, it's not a sustainable solution - especially if you tend to have frequent visitors throughout the day. 

The good news is that expert dog trainer Adam Spivey has a brilliant tip for helping to keep your dog calm and relaxed when the doorbell goes - and getting them there starts before that triggering sound even starts.

"First thing you're going to do is to pop your dog on an indoor training lead or a grab handle lead," Spivey explains. 

"You're going to ring the doorbell, the dog's going to go running to the door (that's normal, we want that), you're going to calmly walk to the door and when you get to the door, you're going to say 'enough' but you're going to be in front of the dog not behind the dog."

Spivey says the next thing you want to do is pick up the dog's leash, lead the dog to its bed, and give it a handful of treats before releasing the dog from the bed. 

"Practice this without someone actually being at your door," he goes on to say, "so that your dog starts to understand what is expected of them."

According to Spivey, there's one thing you want to remember that's super important when it comes to doorbell barking.

"If someone does ring the bell and your dog comes out of its bed, you're going to have to put it back into its bed. You never answer the door when your dog is going mad otherwise the dog learns that breaking position or going mad is what actually opens the door. You want the dog to learn that calmness opens the door."

And Spivey's final tip? Start practicing this training technique immediately. "Play your Ring doorbell, play YouTube sounds, it doesn't matter, just start working on it. Don't wait for someone to knock on the door to put this into practice."

As with teaching your dog any new skill, training them not to bark when the doorbell goes takes time, patience, and consistency. If you feel you're not seeing the results you're looking for after several months, we recommend you reach out to a professional trainer for support.

For more great training tips, check out our guide to how to deal with a badly behaved dog.

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.