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No More (Doorbell) Drama

If your dog goes bonkers every time the doorbell rings, may I suggest this?

Over the weekend I picked up a wireless, plug-in doorbell for $15 at Home Depot. I bought it because our new house has a funky entrance that forces visitors to enter our small, enclosed porch in order to get to our front door. Rather than having strangers half way into the house before they could ring a bell (and startle the pants off of me), we got a wireless doorbell and installed it on the outside of the house. This allows people to stand on our front steps and ring the bell – without entering the porch/house – and gives me a second to tell Boogie to go to his room and chill out while I deal with botherers vistors.

Turns out, this little gadget has a bonus function: my dogs don’t recognize the chime as the doorbell! So when someone rings the new bell, Frick and Frack don’t bark. My mom also has one of these bells and she reports that her dog doesn’t bark at the wireless door chime either – so it’s not a fluke. Two out of two families recommend it.

Granted, desensitizing dogs to the sound of the regular doorbell and teaching them to stay calm is the way to go about this issue. And you can use these battery operated, portable doorbells to do that sort of training. But hey – it’s not such a bad thing that the new bell doesn’t register, in their ears, as a doorbell.  Of course, that will change with time as the dogs make the connection that the ‘new sound’ = people at the door. In the meantime,we’re working with a clean slate.

So, if your dog turns into a hot mess at the sound of the doorbell, this cheap solution just might be what you need to help them make some progress. The kit I bought only had 2 different tones to choose from, but other more expensive kits, give you the option of 8+ chimes to pick from. So in theory, you could keep changing the sound and your dogs will be totally mystified for years.

And for anyone that has a weird front door set up, like me, this is a great, cheap solution because YOU get to decide where visitors stand when they ring the bell. Buy yourself some extra time and put your doorbell somewhere really convenient – like next to a pay phone at the end of your driveway, so visitors can call first and tell you they’re about to ring the door bell. That should give you enough time to tell your dog to “go to his mat”, right?

And if you get one now, it’ll be just in time for all those cute intruders Trick or Treaters!

So go for it – put an end to all that doorbell drama! Mary J. Blige understands, don’t you Mary?

  1. My house doesn’t have a doorbell (?!?!) so I got one of these. You have to watch out in winter because the battery-operated button part doesn’t work as well when it gets cold. I’ve had people tell me they rang my doorbell and didn’t get a response when I know I was home. Which, come to think of it, isn’t a terrible thing. But then I’m a hermit. 🙂

    October 17, 2012
    • Good to know! Although, I once lived with a broken doorbell for a year before I realized why life had been so peaceful. I’ve also been known to put up “no soliciting” signs at the front door to keep strangers away (people with petitions always come at dinner time!). So I’m with you on the hermit tip.

      October 17, 2012
  2. It’s an extra bonus if you have a wireless doorbell that has multiple chime sounds–I switch the sounds around periodically and bought a model that had two “buttons” so I will just ring it randomly and NOT go to the door. It was LEAPS AND BOUNDS easier than COUNTERconditioning them to the old doorbell… we certainly COULD have reconditioned the old doorbell but it would have taken a lot of work and my $30 wireless doorbell was WELL worth the investment.

    October 17, 2012
    • Glad to hear it worked for you too! Agreed – it’s totally worth the money.

      October 17, 2012
  3. Anita #

    Good to know! We’re in the market for houses right now and I am already worrying about the doorbell. Currently both DINOS go in to spazz mode when ever they hear my cell phone ring because they think someone is being buzzed in. More then half of the time no one is calling from the gate but they still freak out.

    October 17, 2012
  4. Not only that, but if it’s the same sound as the usual doorbell, it makes it *so* much easier for DS training to the actual doorbell, since you can press the button yourself while training and don’t need a second person outside! So excited about this.

    October 17, 2012
    • So true! This is a great way to work on the behavior when you’re alone – perfect if you don’t always have a second set of helper hands : )

      October 17, 2012
  5. This is great to know! Thanks so much for the tip. Keeping Bella ‘below threshold’ is the only way we can teach her better skills. This could help find that spot for us with her mailman issues. 🙂

    October 17, 2012
  6. Megs #

    Funny post.

    Do they have these for NYC apartment buzzers?

    October 17, 2012
  7. Cindy Pope #

    I have a doorbell that plays multiple things which means that any music (including my cell phone) will cause my dog to now run barking at the front door…. *sigh* back to square one and a simple ‘ding-dong’.

    October 17, 2012
  8. Kiira #

    So happy to see this! I bought the same doorbell earlier this summer in hopes of changing the old-school chime that my two boys react to. It worked wonders, and I agree about pocketing the doorbell button and using it at random to desensitize/counter-condition the boys to the sound. Now when they hear it, they immediately head toward their “room” and wait patiently for treats.
    Love your blog and all you do to spread the word on DINOS. It means so much to know that we are not alone.

    October 17, 2012
  9. Kristine #

    We have only recently encountered doorbell drama as our old house didn’t have a doorbell at all, forcing visitors to knock. The sound of knocking is what tips our dog off that an evil stranger may be lurking. It took some time but we were able to work with this and now when she hears a knock she dives for her crate. The doorbell is new, though, and she doesn’t have the same association. I guess we’re going to have to start at the beginning again!

    I am glad you found something that helps decrease the stress level in your home!

    October 17, 2012
  10. OK first I have to say how awesome it is that you named your dogs Frick and Frack! I had two girls named Frick and Frack, I ended up adopting out Frick to a family that had previously had a rescue I had placed with them and it passed away. Frack is still with me. I have had the wireless doorbells in the past, on my gate out front so it wasn’t opened without me being there. Love them

    October 17, 2012
    • Frick and Frack are really named Boogie and Birdie : ) But I love that YOU named two dogs F +F!! And great idea with the gate – safety first!

      October 17, 2012
  11. Irene #

    Changing doorbell tones? Sounds like a great idea! I just have a feeling my dog would begin assuming that any random noise was caused by someone coming to the house. Once she figures something out, she’s not taking any chances. She generalizes much too quickly when it comes to unpleasant stimulus. *sigh*

    October 18, 2012
  12. mary lebrecht #

    We got one a few weeks ago and our two haven’t figured it out yet.. i’m waiting to see what happens on halloween but as you said there’s another tone we can switch to if necessary ! Our doorbell has been broken for a few years so they have no idea what it is.

    October 21, 2012
  13. We moved 6 months ago to a place with a chime and different tunes to change it to. Only recently did my dog start realizing what the sound means. 6 months of no barking at the door lol. I actually missed a few craigslist sales because I didn’t know someone was at the door. Apparently, I rely on dog barking to tell me to answer the door.

    October 23, 2012

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