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Getting Your Dog to Behave When the Doorbell Rings

The doorbell rings, and here's what happens: Your dog runs to the door with paws flying everywhere, jumps all over the arriving guests, and, because all eyes are on him, gets even more wound up -- until, that is, you drag him to the basement. Then you apologize to your guests, who are no doubt wondering why you don't train your crazy dog. Bummer.

It's a common routine. Nobody's in control. Nobody's comfortable, except maybe the puppy. But even that passes if you have to isolate him. Fortunately, there's a better way. Remember the idiom "Good manners start at home?" Well, the same rule applies for puppies.

First, though, be stern with your regimen and train your company how to act around your dog (and you thought training your dog was tough).

  • Practice doorbell setups. Put your dog on her Teaching Lead. Position someone at the door and ask him to ring the bell 10 times at 20-second intervals. Tell the visitor to come through another door when he's done. Each time the bell rings, call your dog's name and walk away from the door. Practice these setups twice a day until your dog tones down her reaction.

    If your dog is a real maniac, try the chin lead and discreetly spray Binaca Mouth Spray in front of her nose as you say "Shhh."

  • Do the reverse yo-yo. Secure a four-foot lead to your puppy's nylon collar. Tie a knot in the lead 4 inches past where the lead passes your dog's toe. Before you open the door, step on the knot. Your puppy will still jump, but this rig forces him down. Encourage attention only when your puppy is calm.

  • Create a greeting station. Designate an area by the door to send your pup to when company arrives. Secure a leash to the area and place a favorite ball or toy there. When the bell rings, station/secure your puppy as you instruct "Go to your place." Then answer the door. Instruct your visitors to ignore the puppy while greeting you. Wait until your puppy is calm to introduce her, even if it takes an hour.

  • Designate a greeting toy. If your dog's a real tennis ball fanatic (or any other toy), withhold that toy until you have company arriving. Each time you enter your home or company arrives, say "Get your toy" as you toss the favorite toy on the floor. Spritz your dog if she jumps and continue to ignore her until she's settled down.

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If you're sitting down, anchor your dog until she's calm enough to greet your guests.

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