Door reactivity is one of the most common (and irritating!) issues! If not consistently addressed, dogs often get mentally aroused by the doorbell when guests arrive which can manifest into annoying behaviours like jumping and barking or potentially dangerous behaviours like growling and guarding. In either case, we want to make sure that we address the dog and secure him on his dog bed or in his crate BEFORE opening the door.
There are typically two situations that unfold when an unexpected knock comes at the door
1) the dog stays on his bed and holds command
2) the dog breaks command and rushes the door.
You’ll also notice that the dog freely roaming the house isn’t an option for a lot of dogs. If the dog is reactive when the doorbell rings, then he is too irresponsible to have the privilege of freely roaming and should be in command at all times.
If the dog stays on his bed as in option
1) then I’d give a quick check in on his mindset, correct any excitement and then go answer the door.
BUT if the dog breaks command and rushes the door as in option
2) then we first need to correct that mistake and mental arousal and second recall the dog back to his bed and into a down before getting the door.
It’s a lost cause to get the door and then try to deal with the dog, so get your pup squared away first before welcoming your guests. You can also use a back tie as extra assurance by using a leash or long line tied to a heavy piece of furniture. In both cases 1) and 2), as I’m headed for the door, I’m going to look back over my shoulder a few times just to make sure the dog is staying calm and stay put… and not sneaking along behind me or dancing around on the dog bed 😜