Teach a new behavior using a crate by the front door instead of modifying a negative response


[From Tufts December 2010 Issue]

If your dog’s barking when visitors arrive is an eager “Yay, our friends are here!” response, you may find it easier to modify than a reaction to anxiety. The reason: You’re teaching a new behavior rather than trying to change a negative emotional response. Simply teach your dog that the doorbell or a knock at the door are cues to go into his conveniently located crate or bed — I prefer a crate near the front door. Here’s how to do it right, and you won’t find yourself making a dozen trips to the door during your next dinner party.

1. Ring the doorbell briefly. Or knock on the door.

2. Immediately, cheerfully give your dog’s cue to go to his crate. When he goes there and lies down, click your clicker or use your verbal marker (“Yes!”) and feed him his treat.

3. If he doesn’t already know his “Go to bed!” cue, lure him there, cue him to lie down, then click and treat.

4. Eventually the doorbell or a knock at the door will send him running to his crate. When real visitors arrive, give him a well-stuffed dog toy and close his crate door. Greet your guests, invite them in, and when you’re ready, release your dog for official greetings. If the stuffed toy doesn’t keep him completely quiet, at least he’s not jumping all over your visitors.


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