How To Stop Your Dog From Barking At The Doorbell
You just need a patient friend and a lot of treats.
Pretty much all dogs bark at the doorbell. But does your dog bark and bark and seemingly never stop?
Some dogs bark way too much, but there are ways to train your dog not to bark at the doorbell and give yourself some peace and quiet.
The Dodo spoke to Russell Hartstein, a certified dog behavior consultant and trainer in Los Angeles and founder of Fun Paw Care, to find out how to get your dog to stop barking at the doorbell.
Why do dogs bark at doorbells?
Dogs bark at the doorbell for a lot of reasons.
“[Dogs will bark] to protect their home or territory, to guard a resource or possession, because your dog is spooked or scared and/or that’s where Mom or Dad will be to greet someone,” Hartstein told The Dodo. “They want to investigate and to be where the energy center is to see what’s going on, just like people.”
To alert you
Your dog might just be letting you know that someone’s at the door by barking — kind of like a free security guard.
When the doorbell rings, someone unknown is coming into your dog’s territory, so he could feel the need to protect it (including you) and let the intruders know that this is his house.
Dogs’ ears are much more sensitive than ours, so a random loud noise like the doorbell can sound scary to them. Your dog may be barking because the loud noise startled him, and he doesn’t know what it is. If it’s loud to you, imagine how loud it is to him.
He could also be afraid because he doesn’t know who’s trying to come into the house.
Some signs that your dog might be scared of the doorbell include:
- Pinned back ears
- Lowered head
- Tucked tail
Your dog knows that the doorbell can mean there’s a new person coming to the house, and he may be excited to greet your guests, especially if he’s outgoing and sociable.
If your dog’s excited, you might see:
- Relaxed ears and mouth
- Wagging tail
How to keep your dog calm when the doorbell rings
Barking is a normal behavior for dogs, so you should reasonably expect some barking every now and then, especially when the doorbell rings. But if your pup barks excessively every time someone comes to the door, you might want to consider training him to be calmer.
Teach him to do something else
Teach your dog to associate the doorbell with a calm reaction instead of a frenzied one by giving him a job to do as soon as he hears the sound.
“Barking is a normal and healthy behavior for dogs; however, when it becomes disproportionate to a stimulus, you can address it by asking your dog to perform an incompatible behavior, such as ‘Quiet,’ or teach your dog to run to the other side of the house to their ‘Place’ instead of to the door,” Hartstein said.
You can teach your dog that he needs to be quiet, go to his place or even just to sit whenever the doorbell rings. A good way to do this is with practice runs.
“Practicing this when no one is actually at the door will be important before you go ‘live’ with it,” Hartstein said.
To do this, you can have someone ring the doorbell or knock on the door while you tell your dog to be quiet or to go to his place.
“That means have a friend or partner who can help train your dog by gradually adding in knocking or the doorbell at a very low volume, and when your dog shows no response, mark that with a click or a yes and immediately give them a food reward for not reacting or barking,” Hartstein said.
By giving your dog treats for sitting quietly after hearing the doorbell, you’re teaching him a behavior to replace barking.
Ignore the doorbell
Another way to train your dog not to bark when someone comes to the door is to ignore the doorbell and your dog’s barking.
To do this, have a friend ring the doorbell. Ignore the bell and don’t get up to answer the door.
When your dog starts barking, ignore his barking. When he stops barking, give him a treat and then get up to answer the door.
If your dog starts barking when you get up, repeat the process until your dog doesn’t bark when you go to the door.
Put up a sign
A simple way to get your dog to stop barking at the door is to put up a sign outside that lets people know not to ring the doorbell because it will upset your pup.
(And for Halloween, you might want to put a bowl of candy outside the door for trick-or-treaters to prevent the doorbell from ringing all night.)
However, while this might be effective, it won’t treat the underlying problem of excessive barking, so it’s not a long-term solution. It can, however, be helpful while you’re in the process of training your dog to give yourself a break from your dog’s barking.
Talk to your vet or a dog trainer
If you’ve tried to train your dog and had no luck, you might want to talk to your vet or a trainer to get some professional help. Your dog could have anxiety or be particularly fearful (so look out for signs that he’s afraid when barking, too).
While barking at the doorbell is normal for dogs, sometimes they can go a little too crazy. But if you follow these tips, you can teach your dog to stop barking so much every time someone comes to the door.