Part One: Why does your dog go crazy every time the doorbell rings?

Important point to remember: Your dog has become classically conditioned!

Most of you have probably heard of the Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov. He’s a pretty interesting guy. He studied .the gastrointestinal track of dogs. In one of his experiments, he would ring a bell and then pour meat powder down a tube into the dog’s mouth. What he discovered was that by ringing the bell and then giving the powder repeatedly, he could eventually get the dogs to salivate just by ringing the bell.

He would ring the bell - give the powder, ring the bell - give the powder. He then rang the bell and waited to see what happened. What he discovered was that the dog would salivate in anticipation of the meat powder. This became known as classical conditioning.

And by now you must be wondering what this has to do with your dog blowing a gasket at the sound of the door bell. Well my friend, keep reading and you will find out…

The doorbell by itself means nothing to your dog; it is what happens every time the doorbell rings that is important. Think back to Pavlov’s dogs for a moment. The ringing bell would not make the dog salivate until it had been paired with something (the meat). By ringing the bell and giving the meat powder at the same time the dog began to expect the powder every time the bell rang. If this happens enough times, the dog will expect the powder even when it is withheld.

Your dog hears the bell, gets up, runs to the door and you follow. Then you try to fight your dog off while greeting your guests. Your guests come in and they try to fight the dog off too and it becomes one big chaotic mess.

One of your dog’s most important needs is social contact. When the bell rings, your dog knows that he is going to get social contact.

The events associated with the doorbell ringing are what produces the unwanted, obnoxious behavior.

When your guest walks through the door this is when the dog gets multiple rewards. He gets the social contact from the new person and he gets rewarded from you the owner with unintentional reinforcement.

Unintentional reinforcement works the same as intentional reinforcement. When your dog jumps and barks we tend to say “stop that,” “no,” “bad dog,” and we also tend to push the dogs off our guests. Believe it or not, all of these activities contribute to the unwanted behavior. When you reinforce a behavior the behavior becomes stronger and stronger. Your dog enjoys the commotion that happens when the bell rings.

So, now I hope you understand why your dog goes nutty every time your door bell rings. This is the first step in stopping the behavior. Once you understand what is going on in your dog’s head, you’ll be able to apply some simple steps to stop the commotion at the front door. Be sure to read Part 2 – How To Stop Your Dog From Blowing A Gasket Every Time The Doorbell Rings.

Author's Bio: 

Eric Letendre, the author of The Amazing Dog Training Man, invites you to visit for leading edge dog training tips, instructional video clips, and articles that will help you train and understand your dog. You can also get weekly dog training updates with a free Smart Dog Newsletter subscription, available at