Training Dogs And Humans For A More Enjoyable Life Together
Answers to questions are based on the information provided. It’s always a good idea to have your pet thoroughly examined by a veterinarian when having behavior problems. Although I can give general information and management suggestions on serious behavior problems such as aggression, issues such as these can be a very serious problem and a certified dog trainer should be consulted. If you are implementing the suggestions given and do not see a change in behavior within a month, please contact a professional trainer for an in-depth consultation.
How can I stop my Yorkie from going nuts when the doorbell rings. She goes after my legs and barks like crazy. She really hates any noises. Squeaky toys, the sound of a key, the opening of the front door, etc…
Certain sounds and actions resemble prey to dogs – high-pitched noises, flailing, swift movement, etc. All of these types of behaviors can cause a reaction in dogs of any breed. Your dog is a terrier, so she’ll react even more than most dogs. Remember that terriers are bred to hunt vermin, most of which make squeaky noises. Yorkies were originally used in textile mills and mines in England to hunt vermin. In the late 1800s, Yorkies were accepted into the English Kennel Club, and their lives changed drastically, becoming lap dogs for fashionable ladies. However, they’re still tough little dogs with a working background.
Your Yorkie probably doesn’t really hate noises but becomes excited by them. Here’s a link to an article on mental stimulation:
This is a great article to get you started – bored dogs almost always have more behavior problems than busy dogs!
Unfortunately, once this barking behavior starts, it will continue until the dog is trained to do something else. In this instance, because she attacks your legs, I would train her to go to a specific location and wait until released. This can be anywhere, but I’d make it at least 10-20 feet from the door. Alternatively, you can train her to go get a favorite toy and hold it in her mouth – this will prevent her from barking, get her focused on something else, and is pretty adorable when someone comes in the door. (I once had clients teach their Rhodesian Ridgeback to bring a beer to the door when the doorbell rang – they were university students!) You can train her so that the sound itself (doorbell, phone, etc.) is the cue to do the new behavior.
Susan Smith, CPDT-KA, is a dog trainer in San Tan Valley, AZ, specializing in pet dog training as well as cat and parrot training—from obedience behaviors to serious problems such as aggression. She can be contacted at email@example.com. Sue is also the owner of Raising Canine, LLC which provides professional education to animal trainers.