How to Train Your Dog to Bark at the Door

Medium
1-3 Weeks
Work

Introduction

It’s the morning and you go out to make sure the kids get on the school bus all right, only to be met by a glum neighbor. They were burgled last night and the car was stolen. It’s a sickening thought and the idea that it could have happened to you fills you with dread. It has long been known dogs act as an effective deterrent to burglars, but only if your dog makes himself known.

If he barks at the door when anyone approaches, he will send intruders running a mile, guaranteeing to help you sleep peacefully at night. While the sound may be mildly annoying at times, it’s a small price to pay for a secure and well-protected home. Training your dog in this way will also stimulate his mind and make it easier to teach him other commands too.

Defining Tasks

Thankfully, training him to bark at the door isn’t as complicated as many people think. It consists mainly of obedience commands to reinforce the behavior you want to see. It will also entail managing his environment so he understands what area he is supposed to protect with his booming bark.

If he is a puppy, his brain should be eager to learn and training will probably yield results in just a few days or a week. If he is older and not quite playing with a full deck of cards anymore, then you may need a little more patience and be willing to invest a couple of weeks into training.

Mastering this training will give you a secure and well-protected home. No one will be able to get near your home without your dog warning you loud and clear first.

Getting Started

Before you get going you will need a few things. The door in question will, of course, be essential, so make sure that is accessible and free from distractions. You will also need food or treats and lots of them. If he isn’t so keen on treats, breaking down his favorite food into small chunks will do the trick.

You will also need to set aside 10 minutes a day for the next few weeks until he has the hang of it. Once you’ve got all of the above, just bring a positive frame of mind and patience and you’re ready to get to work!

The Anticipate the Bark Method

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Anticipate the Bark Method
Step
1
Supervise
Monitor his behavior for 2 or 3 days. Keep an eye out for situations that trigger a bark. It could be turning on the vacuum or simply preparing his meals. Play close attention to his body language before he barks.
Step
2
Timing a bark
Now put him in a bark inducing situation and say ‘speak’ just before you think he is going to bark. You can use any word as a cue, but ‘speak’ and ‘bark’ will work just fine. Give the command in a clear but warm voice--you want to pretend this is a game.
Step
3
Reward!
As soon as he barks, give him a treat and praise him. It is important you really shower him with praise to reinforce the behaviour. This will help him learn and remember the cue swiftly. Practice this for 10 minutes for each day for the next couple of days.
Step
4
Create a trigger
Take him to the door in question. Have a family member or friend approach the door from the outside. As soon as they are close, knock on the door or ring the bell, give him the command to bark. Once again be sure to reward him with a treat and praise him. Practice this each day for the next few days and try and have different people approach the door.
Step
5
Work down to the trigger
As he gets the hang of it, slowly reduce the frequency of treats and stop using the command. He will quickly respond to training and barking at the door will become his natural behavior. That means you’ll no longer need to give him a verbal cue to bark, it will have become habit.
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The Manage His Territory Method

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Manage His Territory Method
Step
1
Create a space
Take his bedding and the odd toy and place them near the door in question. Dogs are territorial so if you make it clear to him the space near and around the door is his territory he will naturally want to defend it.
Step
2
Define a perimeter
Secure him on a leash and walk him past the door and around the territory you want him to protect. This may seem like an odd thing to do, but as soon as he naturally sees the door as his to guard, teaching him to bark at it will be a walk in the park. Walk him twice a day around this area, once in the morning and once in the evening.
Step
3
Reinforce a wanted bark
He will probably start barking naturally when people approach the door now and when he does, quickly reward him with a treat and praise. It is important you keep a close eye on him because the reward needs to come as soon as possible otherwise he won’t associate the behavior with the food.
Step
4
Trigger a bark
If he doesn’t naturally start barking, put him in a situation that usually triggers a bark by the door. Getting out the leash for a walk often does the trick. So come from the other side of the door with his leash in hand and knock on the door and call to him. He is probably a smart cookie and will be able to hear the leash from inside and start barking. Then have someone else give him a treat and reward him inside. Practice this for 10 minutes each day until he gets the hang of it.
Step
5
Practice
Continue to praise and reward him until you are confident he understands the door is for barking at, then slowly reduce the frequency of treats. You don’t want him to get fat or rely on the promise of food too much, so after a couple of weeks it’s probably time to stop treating him, the behavior should be ingrained into him by now.
Recommend training method?

The Disappearing Owner Method

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Disappearing Owner Method
Step
1
Set the stage
Secure him with a leash to a kitchen table and then get out one of his favorite treats. Before you teach him to bark at the door you need to have him bark on command. Make sure the food or treat you use is one he really goes wild for, this will speed up the learning process.
Step
2
Tempt up a bark
Hold the treat in front of him and then slowly back away until you’re out of his field of vision. This temptation of food and the frustration of not being able to get to it is guaranteed to make him bark. Ensure you keep a jolly persona as you back away, this all needs to be a big game to him.
Step
3
Reward!
As soon as he barks, say ‘good bark’, run back to him and give him a treat. You can also verbally praise him to reinforce that he’s done a good job. Practice doing this daily for 10 minutes. After a couple of days, lose the leash and give the ‘good bark’ command before he actually barks. By now he will associate the phrase with barking and will know what you want from him.
Step
4
Move the show
Trial his new found voice at the door. Stand with him at the door and then have someone approach from the outside. Give the command as soon as you can hear someone approaching. Once he does bark, be sure to quickly give him a treat and reward him again. Practice this for 10 minutes a day over the next few days.
Step
5
Reduce treats
Once he has the hang of it, cut down on the frequency of treats and stop giving the command. The barking at the door will now have become a habit and he will not need a verbal command or the promise of food to bark at the door. You will now finally have a well trained, barking canine pal!
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

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