How to Train Your Small Dog to Not Bark When Someone Is at the Door

Medium
3-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

There is nothing worse than having to listen to your pup bark his head off and go crazy every time someone knocks on your door or rings the bell. Not only is the noise annoying, it is very rude behavior and might scare off the visitor. Of course, this is a very natural behavior for your dogs as it is his way of letting you know there is someone at the door. At the same time, it is his way of letting the person on the other side of the door know he is protecting his den.

It might take a while for your dog to fully master this trick. The longer he has been getting away with barking at the door, the harder it could be to break him of this bad habit. Part of training your dog not to bark is figuring out why he is doing it. In this case, it is the act of someone knocking on the door or ringing the doorbell. 

Defining Tasks

There may be more than one reason why your dog barks at the door; it could be he is protecting his territory, or it could simply be the noise. Some dogs are easily startled by loud noises such as a knock on the door or the doorbell itself. These sudden noises can startle him, at least until he gets used to them and has been trained to ignore them or how to behave in a proper manner.

Training your dog not to bark at the door consists of desensitizing him to the sound. There are, of course, several different ways you can go about this.  The good news is you can teach your pup not to behave in this manner. Then your friends, the UPS and FedEx drivers, and the postman will be able to knock on the door without fear of being attacked by your crazed little dog. 

Getting Started

Before you can start teaching your dog to stop barking at the door, he must have first mastered the basic commands. This will make it much easier for you to work with your pup to stop him barking at every person that knocks on your door. Your goal is to stop your dog barking and at the same time redirect him to something else. There are a few things you need to make this task a bit easier.

  • Treats: to use as rewards
  • A bed or mat: somewhere for your pup to go when there is a knock on the door
  • An assistant: someone who can knock on your door or ring the bell.

Patience and time to train are the only other real requirements and you will need plenty of both before the training is over. Take your time, give your pup time to master this skill and you can enjoy the peace and quiet when the next person knocks on the door or rings the bell. 

The Choose Your Word Method

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Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Start by picking your command word
Start out by choosing your command word or phrase. It can be "quiet", "knock it off" or anything you choose, just make sure you stick to the same command each time.
Step
2
Bring on the "stranger"
Have your assistant come to the door and either knock or ring the bell.
Step
3
Give the command
Give your dog the "quiet" command and wait until he stops barking before giving him a treat and praising him.
Step
4
Repeat the process
Repeat this, having your friend alternate between knocking and using the doorbell.
Step
5
Each time
Each time your pup stops barking on command, be sure to praise him and give him a treat. The idea is to teach your pup that he only gets a reward when he DOESN'T bark at the doorbell or knock on the door. It will take a little time, so be patient and work with him.
Recommend training method?

The Ignore the Behavior Method

ribbon-method-2
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Bring on the friend
Have your friend come up to the door and knock or ring the bell.
Step
2
Woof, woof
When your pup starts barking, ignore him. Just sit patiently and wait for him to stop barking on his own. Once he stops making a racket, praise him and give him a treat.
Step
3
Come
Have your dog come over to you and make him sit beside you. Then get up and go to the door. If your dog follows you, return to your seat and have your dog go back to the spot where you had him sitting. This will be his "spot" when there is a knock on the door.
Step
4
Do not open
Do not open the door until your pup has learned to stay on his spot quietly when there is a knock or the bell rings.
Step
5
Open up
Now you should be able to go to the door and open it. If your pup comes bounding over to say hello, have your friend go back outside and try again.
Step
6
Keep at it
Keep working at this until your friend can knock or ring the bell without your dog barking, and you can open it while your pup stays on his spot until you call him over to greet your friend. The rest is all about practice. The more you work with your pup on this, the quicker he will master it and you can enjoy peace and quiet when someone comes to the door.
Recommend training method?

The Understanding Method

ribbon-method-3
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Understand why your dog barks
To your dog, the sound of the doorbell or a knock on the door means someone is trying to attack either him or his human family. Naturally, his first instinct is to bark in an attempt to scare them off.
Step
2
Start with calm sitting
Your dog should already have been trained to sit quietly while he waits for a treat. If so, you are already halfway towards the goal.
Step
3
Assume the position
Call your dog over and have him sit. Once he has calmed down, give him a treat.
Step
4
Ding-dong
Have a friend ring the bell or knock on the door. If your pup doesn't react to the sound, give him a treat.
Step
5
If he barks or moves
If your pup starts to bark or move, let him smell the treat you have in your hand, but don’t let him have it yet. Instead, redirect his attention with until he has calmed down. Then repeat the process only rewarding him when he doesn’t react.
Step
6
Keep repeating
Keep working with your pup over several weeks until he no longer reacts to the doorbell or when someone knocks on the door. Be patient, work with your pup and before long people will no longer fear knocking on your door.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Rolo
Australian Kelpie
17 Weeks
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Question
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Rolo
Australian Kelpie
17 Weeks

Pulling on walks,
Barking at dogs on walks,
Barking when doorbell goes,
Jumping up at people,
General antisocial behaviour

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello, Pulling - The Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Barking - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JY7JrteQBOQ&list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a&index=3&t=28s Barking - Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Jumping: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump What type of anti-social behavior is pup doing? If pup is fearful, check out this article and work on a lot of training geared toward socialization. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-socialize-a-shy-dog/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Ellison
adopt
9 Months
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Question
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Ellison
adopt
9 Months

She is really sweet girl , but sometimes when i hug her or try to kiss she starts barking and attack.. she bites sometimes but not too hard . i think she is warning me with barking but biting her own mother shouldn't be good , right ?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Nina, First, I would stop kissing and hugging her. She likely hasn't been socialized with that type of touch before so she is reacting defensively. You don't want her to be biting certainly, but you need to desensitize her to those things gradually instead of simply doing them despite her protests. To work on getting pup used to touch and handling use pup's daily meal kibble to do this. Gently touch an area of pup's body while feeding a piece of food. Touch an ear and give a treat. Touch a paw and give a treat. Hold their collar and give a treat. Touch their tail gently and give a treat. Touch their belly, their other paws, their chest, shoulder, muzzle and every other area very gently and give a treat each time. Keep these times calm and fun for pup. Once pup is used to all of those touches and happy about having you in her space again, then you can instead the touch to work up to closer contact gradually. I would do this very carefully, with pup wearing a basket muzzle that's been introduced ahead of time, and only giving as much touch as pup indicates they are ready for with how relaxed their body language appears, then working up to more touch very gradually with the treats, to help pup learn to love touch. Muzzle training: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJTucFnmAbw Some dogs have stronger personal space boundaries than others. Some dogs may never love that amount of personal space invasion. I would still desensitize pup to the touch and contact to help pup not feel as stressed about it for times when pup has to be restrained for exams or kids run up to pup and enter their space unexpectedly, but you may also need to adjust the way you interact with pup on a daily basis long term, to bond with pup in ways pup enjoys more. Teaching pup commands and tricks, playing games or canine sports, going on walks and hikes together, teaching pup to touch you instead of you entering their space - like having pup learn to set their chin on you, and teaching pup to enjoy short sessions with more contact but then be able to go back to their own space right after, and to have pup come over to you for these sessions instead of you moving into their space at any point in the day when they are expecting it and aren't ready for it. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Max
Lab mix
5 Years
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Question
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Max
Lab mix
5 Years

I just brought my dog from a suburb quieter home to Tampa fl in an apartment. He is reactive to people walking by the door and people opening the door or knocking as well as people walking down the hall or other doors closing. I tell him “quiet” or “leave it” and granted I just moved him down like today. I don’t want him to be barking in an apartment setting for neighbors. What are tips and tricks I can implement with him to de-sensitize and also retrain him not to bark or be as reactive?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Mary, I would teach pup the Quiet command. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Check out this video on desensitizing to guests and the door. A similar process, with your particular sounds and experiences outside, can be done with your pup. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpzvqN9JNUA Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Dilan
Chihuahua
5 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Dilan
Chihuahua
5 Years

barks at every stranger who comes to the house

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ximena, I would desensitize pup to guests arriving and teach pup Place, having pup go to Place when they need help controlling their responses. Desensitizing to the door and guests: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpzvqN9JNUA I would work up to pup doing a 1 hour place command, gradually adding distractions like toys and food being dropped, family entering and exiting the front door, and you dancing around silly, start with the basics of Place and gradually make it harder as she improves, consistently returning her to place when she breaks command due to distraction, and keeping sessions frequent but short. You want to work up to pup handling all kinds of silly things when guests aren't there, including the front door opening, then recruit dog friendly friends who are willing to practicing entering and leaving your home over and over again to work up to pup being able to handle that distraction also. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Desensitize and Quiet methods - you may also find these methods helpful too. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Sky
Cavachon
4 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Sky
Cavachon
4 Years

She gets into trash cans all the time when we are gone, and sometimes gets on the counters and eats things while we are gone. She barks whenever the doorbell is rung, and barks at anyone who comes near our house.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Courtney, Check out the Quiet method from the article I have linked below for the door barking: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Also, check out this video on barking at the door and counter conditioning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpzvqN9JNUA First, work on the Leave It command from the article linked below for surfing that happens when you are present. Leave It method- the first part of that method that involves food. Gradually work up to pup leaving harder foods alone - like kibble - treats - chicken - hotdogs - until pup can leave food on the floor alone when told that command while you are there to enforce it and prevent pup from grabbing it. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite For surfing that is happening while you are out of the room, I recommend creating an aversion to jumping on the counter itself. There are a few ways to do this. You can place something like a scat mat on the counter and put a food temptation further back on the counter just out of reach - when pup jumps up the mat gives a static shock - nothing harsh but its uncomfortable and surprising. You can also set up Snap Traps covered lightly with unfolded napkins. When pup touches them on the edge of the counter, they will jump up and make a snapping sound - startling pup. These are designed for this type of purpose so won't actually close on pup like real mouse traps would - don't use real mouse traps because of the risk of injury. You can also stack metal pot lids and pans precariously on the counter. Tie a strong string like twine through all of them and back tie the whole contraption to something secure so that when they fall they can't fall all the way off the counter, then tie another string to the lip or pan that's supporting the precarious set up and tie the other end of that string to a safe food booby trap, like a whole bagel sitting on the counter. The idea is that when pup jumps up and grabs the food, they will pull the objects over and create a loud crashing noise that will surprise them. Because of the back tie string the objects should not fall on pup though. With all of these setups, you will need to set up a camera to spy on pup from the other room and be ready to run in and remove any food left on the counter or floor, so that pup doesn't return to the scene of the crime once things are calm and eat the food anyway - otherwise they may decide that its still worth it to jump up. You will need to practice this setup often with pup in different parts of the counter and with different foods. Don't use any food that could harm pup if they were to eat it - like chicken bones, grapes, chocolate, xylitol, nuts, garlic, or onion. When not practicing the trap, keep counters clean and pup confined away from the area or tethered to you with a hands free leash until pup has thoroughly learned the lesson - jumping up and not being surprised and potentially grabbing food, will negate your training efforts - you want pup to think that the counter is always suspicious now so they give up on jumping up. For the trash can raiding, you can booby trap your trash can with one of those magnetic door alarms that goes off when a toddler opens a door to go outside, set it up so that it goes off when the lid to the trashcan is opened, moving it away from the magnet on the inside of the trash can to make it go off. If your trashcan doesn't have a lid, you absolutely need a new trashcan unless your trashcan can be put away somewhere where pup can't access, like under the sink or in a pantry with the door closed. A final option is to crate train pup and crate pup while you are away. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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