Tuesday, April 27, 2010


My dogs don't bark all the time and if something does get their attention it's usually pretty easy to get them to stop. However our one problem area....when someone's at the door.

I know that many people like it when their dogs alert them when someone's at the house, but not me. It can be quite startling having 5 dogs suddenly start barking all at once. I honestly don't need their help, I can hear the doorbell perfectly well without them alerting me to it. Most of the time it's the neighbor's young daughter coming for an afternoon visit. Nothing to be alarmed about. Nothing scary. So to me...it's a problem.

It's funny; sometimes as I'm watching a movie or tv show and it's someone's house and their doorbell rings. Guess what? No dogs...no barking. Just the peaceful ring of the little bell. Awww wouldn't that be nice? Instead if I know someone is coming over I'm on edge waiting in anticipation to work with the girls and their chorus of noise. I also know that this isn't very welcoming to my visitors. They know and expect barking but still I dream of them being able to walk in with my girls laying on the floor calmly enjoying their company. We get there, but only after about 15 minutes of visitor excitement.

My plan of action is to assign them a place to go when the bell rings. I send them to stand and wait on the living room rug. A task they easily accomplish. Even new fosters catch on pretty quickly. But do they do this quietly? No. So I still have to say, "Enough!" to quiet them. Sometimes it may be several "enoughs" and a mean look on my face that lets them know, "mom is really serious." They know I will follow through if they don't. (Follow through simply means I'll go all the way to them and grab their collar firmly and say enough or something like that.)

Then once they are settled and I greet my now terrified visitor I slowly allow them to come and greet, sometimes one at a time, sometimes all of them. When I give the release command I normally get one good back-talking bark. Bailey has actually been known to growl at the person while holding a toy in her mouth which she is bringing to give to the visitor. This is an example of how ingrained this behavior is. It is so ingrained that I can stand with the door wide open. The dogs can clearly see me. I ring the bell...they bark. I ring again...they bark. Again, they see that it is me just standing there ringing the bell...but still they bark. It takes a good 5-6 rings before they are aware enough to stifle their barks. Silly dogs.

My dogs are fantastic, so well-behaved, I love them so much. I wish I could just let go of this frustration and realize it's okay for them to bark then. As long as they listen to my commands and eventually settle, then it's okay. So that's my plan. I'll continue to send them to the rug, say "enough", ring the door bell at weird times to desensitize them and work on my patience. After all if I wanted a quiet house when the bell rings then why did I get a dog in the first place : ).

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