How to Stop a Dog From Charging to the Front Door

Dogs may see doors as sources of excitement and fear.
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A dog who charges the front door could be exhibiting territorial behavior. He treats the sound of the doorbell or visitors approaching as a threat and wants to assert himself. Excitable dogs who love to give a warm welcome also charge the door, especially if a member of the family has been away. Once you've figured out the cause of your dog's door charging habit, you can fix the problem using a variety of kind behavior modification techniques.

Observe your dog’s behavior to figure out what causes him to charge. If he charges to the front door whenever he hears a sound, he is probably responding to his territorial urges to protect his territory. If he charges only when a family member enters the house, he’s more likely just excited to greet her.

Expose your dog to the stimulus that causes him to charge. For example, have a friend walk up the path, or a family member go out and come back in quick succession. If he’s a doorbell charger, simply ring the doorbell every hour for four hours.

Ignore the dog. We humans often reinforce unwanted behavior without realizing it by trying to calm our dogs down. If you try to soothe him when he charges to the door, he’ll soon figure out that this behavior gets him attention. By exposing him to the stimulus regularly, it will become background noise and he’ll learn to ignore it.

Distract him. Give him a toy or a chew and then reintroduce the stimulus. The trick here is to continue to expose the stimulus, but only at times when he is less likely to charge. He may charge the first few times, but you’re getting him into the habit of ignoring the urge in favor of a more interesting activity.

Attach a leash and walk him around the house. Give him verbal praise for as long as he remains calm and passive.

Reintroduce the trigger stimulus, such as having someone ring the bell. If he tries to charge, tighten the leash to stop him. As you do this, cease praising him. By taking away the verbal praise, you show him that the act of charging, or trying to charge, has a negative consequence. He’ll soon learn it’s his own behavior that removes the praise.

Reintroduce the praise and fuss as soon as he becomes passive and chilled out. With sufficient repetition of this process, combined with repeated exposure to the stimulus, he’ll learn that the doorbell sounding, or people entering, is a normal part of the day unworthy of his excitement and that good things get removed when he charges.

Items You Will Need

  • Toys
  • Chews
  • Leash