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

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

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

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
Moe
Pit Bullmastiff
3 Years
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Question
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Moe
Pit Bullmastiff
3 Years

My brothers dog is 3 i got her to grow up with my daughter but as my brothers pet. She pees and poops in the house even when he takes her out. She also jumps on people even my toddler and barks at any noise she hears and my landlord doesn't want her barking everytime she knocks or pulls up but I have no idea what to do to fix these things plus the fact shes chewed up all my daughters shoes only hers no one elses she has toys but everything seems to be her chew toy.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
229 Dog owners recommended

Hello! I am going to send you quite a bit of information on potty training, as well as crate training if you decide to utilize a crate to help with potty training. It is geared towards puppies, but when adult dogs have potty training issues, it is best to just wipe the slate clean and start over with everything you know. As far as the other behavioral issues, you may want to work on teaching her to sit when someone rings the doorbell. It is a simple fix, but does require a decent amount of practice for a few weeks. Her brain needs to learn something to do in place of barking. You can set her up on leash with treats in hand. Have someone ring the bell and get her attention with the treat, ask for a sit, then reward her for calm, quite behavior. I am sending you information on potty training as well as crate training if you decide to utilize a crate to help with potty training. Potty training: Know Your Pup. As you spend time with your puppy, learn your puppy’s love language. Just as some people prefer gifts, touch, or time spent together, puppies can be the same way. Some puppies love praise or pets, while others prefer treats. As you get to know your puppy, consider what reward your puppy loves the most. Create a Daily Schedule. It is best to have a routine for your puppy. A schedule helps them understand when to eat, play, and “go to the bathroom.” Your puppy should go out frequently and the routine should be the same every time. When? Start the day by taking your puppy outside, and repeating based on age and ability. They should also go out after napping, chewing, playing, and within 10 to 15 minutes of eating. Although some puppies can sleep for seven hours, it is important to set an alarm and take your pup out during the night. When you do, don’t make a fuss about it. Quietly take them outside with minimal stimulation and light. Praise them if they go to the bathroom and gently return them to their bed or crate. You don’t want them to get stimulated and ready to play in the middle of the night! As you get to know your puppy, you will become aware of their individual habits. Click here to learn more about house training schedules for puppies. Where? Take your puppy to a specific area to urinate or defecate. Be consistent. You can create an area by using urine-soaked paper or bowel movements to help create an aroma to stimulate your puppy. How? Take your puppy out on a leash so they can focus on the desired activity. This will help prevent them from wandering off to play. Once your puppy is in the selected area, use your verbal cue, such as “Hurry Up,” “Poopies,” “Go tinkle,” or any phrase your puppy responds to. What? Know the signs that your puppy has to go to the bathroom. Every animal may have a different “I gotta go” gesture, which often include restlessness, sniffing around, circling, scratching at the door, barking, and, eventually, squatting. At the first sign that your pup has to go, calmly and quickly take them outside to their bathroom spot. Deal with Accidents. Accidents are a normal part of house training a puppy. What to Do If you see your puppy in the process of urinating or defecating inappropriately, calmly and quickly interrupt them in the act. Tell them to stop (either by a jarring sound or command), and immediately take them to an appropriate location for elimination. After your puppy goes to the bathroom, lavishly praise them and offer a treat. Thoroughly clean up accidents, so your puppy is not attracted to this area again. Create a consistent feeding and watering schedule. Depending on the age of your puppy, they will eat three to four times a day. A consistent feeding routine can create a regular bathroom schedule. Take away water about 2 hours before bedtime. Learn more about ideal dog schedules here. What NOT to Do Don’t punish your puppy when they have an accident. At that point, it is too late. When a puppy has an accident in the house and they walk away, within seconds they have already forgotten about what they did. Taking them to the scene of the crime and yelling and/or rubbing their nose in it does not help and, in fact, can harm your puppy! Supervise. The best thing you can do is to prevent accidents and the best way to do this is to supervise your puppy at all times. You can tether your puppy to your waist with a five or six-foot leash and carefully observe them for signs that they need to go to the bathroom. If you can’t supervise, then crate or confine your puppy. The more accidents your puppy has in the house, the more confusing it will be for them and this can delay house training. Reward, Reward, Reward. It is important to give your puppy a reward for their good behavior. This can be for commands such as sitting and coming to you, or for appropriately eliminating outside. In a puppy, a reward can be a couple kibbles of puppy food or a treat, such as a small piece of meat. The treat should be exciting for them and only available as a result of good behavior. Crate training can take days or weeks, depending on your dog's age, temperament and past experiences. It's important to keep two things in mind while crate training: The crate should always be associated with something pleasant and training should take place in a series of small steps. Don't go too fast. Step 1: Introduce your dog to the crate Place the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Take the door off and let the dog explore the crate at their leisure. Some dogs will be naturally curious and start sleeping in the crate right away. If yours isn't one of them: Bring them over to the crate and talk to them in a happy tone of voice. Make sure the crate door is open and secured so that it won't hit your dog and frighten them. Encourage your dog to enter the crate by dropping some small food treats nearby, then just inside the door, and finally, all the way inside the crate. If they refuse to go all the way in at first, that's OK; don't force them to enter. Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If they aren’t interested in treats, try tossing a favorite toy in the crate. This step may take a few minutes or as long as several days. Step 2: Feed your dog meals in the crate After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding them their regular meals near the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate. If your dog is readily entering the crate when you begin Step 2, place the food dish all the way at the back of the crate. If they remain reluctant to enter, put the dish only as far inside as they will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious. Each time you feed them, place the dish a little further back in the crate. Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate to eat their meal, you can close the door while they’re eating. The first time you do this, open the door as soon as they finish their meal. With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until they’re staying in the crate for 10 minutes or so after eating. If they begin to whine to be let out, you may have increased the length of time too quickly. Next time, try leaving them in the crate for a shorter time period. If they do whine or cry in the crate, don’t let them out until they stop. Otherwise, they'll learn that the way to get out of the crate is to whine, so they'll keep doing it. Step 3: Practice with longer crating periods After your dog is eating their regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine them there for short time periods while you're home. Call them over to the crate and give them a treat. Give them a command to enter, such as "crate." Encourage them by pointing to the inside of the crate with a treat in your hand. After your dog enters the crate, praise them, give them the treat and close the door. Sit quietly near the crate for five to 10 minutes and then go into another room for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly again for a short time and then let them out. Repeat this process several times a day, gradually increasing the length of time you leave them in the crate and the length of time you're out of sight. Once your dog will stay quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes with you mostly out of sight, you can begin leaving them crated when you're gone for short time periods and/or letting them sleep there at night. This may take several days or weeks. Step 4, Part A: Crate your dog when you leave After your dog can spend about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving them crated for short periods when you leave the house. Put them in the crate using your regular command and a treat. You might also want to leave them with a few safe toys in the crate. Vary the moment during your "getting ready to leave" routine that you put your dog in the crate. Although they shouldn't be crated for a long time before you leave, you can crate them anywhere from five to 20 minutes prior to leaving. Don't make your departures emotional and prolonged—they should be matter-of-fact. Praise your dog briefly, give them a treat for entering the crate and then leave quietly. When you return home, don't reward your dog for excited behavior by responding to them in an enthusiastic way. Keep arrivals low-key to avoid increasing their anxiety over when you will return. Continue to crate your dog for short periods from time to time when you're home so they don't associate crating with being left alone. Step 4, Part B: Crate your dog at night Put your dog in the crate using your regular command and a treat. Initially, it may be a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or nearby in a hallway, especially if you have a puppy. Puppies often need to go outside to eliminate during the night and you'll want to be able to hear your puppy when they whine to be let outside. Older dogs should also initially be kept nearby so they don't associate the crate with social isolation. Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with the crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer, although time spent with your dog—even sleep time—is a chance to strengthen the bond between you and your pet. Potential problems Whining: If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether they’re whining to be let out of the crate, or whether they need to be let outside to eliminate. If you've followed the training procedures outlined above, then your dog hasn't been rewarded for whining in the past by being released from their crate. If that is the case, try to ignore the whining. If your dog is just testing you, they'll probably stop whining soon. Yelling at them or pounding on the crate will only make things worse. If the whining continues after you've ignored them for several minutes, use the phrase they associate with going outside to eliminate. If they respond and become excited, take them outside. This should be a trip with a purpose, not play time. If you're convinced that your dog doesn't need to eliminate, the best response is to ignore them until they stop whining. Don't give in; if you do, you'll teach your dog to whine loud and long to get what they want. If you've progressed gradually through the training steps and haven't done too much too fast, you'll be less likely to encounter this problem. If the problem becomes unmanageable, you may need to start the crate training process over again. Separation anxiety: Attempting to use the crate as a remedy for separation anxiety won't solve the problem. A crate may prevent your dog from being destructive, but they may get injured in an attempt to escape. Separation anxiety problems can only be resolved with counterconditioning and desensitization procedures.

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Question
Sam
Chocolate lab
2 Years
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Question
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Sam
Chocolate lab
2 Years

He is very cautious with new people. He is very vocal and will bark and growl, and he’s very skittish at first. He is not aggressive though; you’re still able to pet him pretty quickly. He isn’t aggressive on walks towards other people or dogs; he whines a little, but he won’t pull or bark. The challenge is how to get him to stop being incredibly scared and defensive when he first meets anyone new.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
878 Dog owners recommended

Hello Alexa, It sounds like he is primarily doing the behavior when someone new comes to your home? If so, I recommend desensitizing pup to new people, and also desensitizing pup to the experience of visitors arriving. People: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXCELHDT2fs&lc=UggJCGUebwz-tXgCoAEC Guests: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpzvqN9JNUA Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Rocky
Cavoodle
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Rocky
Cavoodle
3 Years

Every time the door bell goes, he goes crazy. I have been trying with the treats and use the command, no barking. Once he stops, I give home the great but as soon as I open the door, he starts to bark and go crazy again. He only wants to say hello to the visitor because he loves new people and the attention. But I feel like I'm getting nowhere. I have been doing this for about a month with no progression.
He also barks constantly at the birds outside and we can't control him. Sometimes I will try and distract him while outside and throw him a ball. This works for a little while but he then spots the birds again and starts to bark like mad. Can you suggest anything else.

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I would work on reinforcing the no barking with the Quiet command as taught here. Work on it every day, not just when there are visitors coming or when birds are around. Take a look here: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark. When you are in the yard, before he gets the chance to bark at birds, provide him with things that are long-lasting and enjoyable, such as a puzzle toy that dispenses treats or a frozen kong. (Fill a kong with moistened kibble and a smear of dog-safe peanut butter - this means no xylitol as it is extremely toxic to dogs! - freeze it overnight and give it to Rocky as a distraction. Work on the Quiet command as well if needed and take a look here: https://wagwalking.com/training/not-bark-at-birds. For barking at visitors, work on these methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-visitors-calmly. With Rocky in training mode, the barking may lesson. If you do not have any luck, seek the help of an in-home trainer to give you a hand. A couple of sessions may make a huge difference and give you hands-on tools to work with. Good luck!

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Question
rocco
Mixed
4 Years
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Question
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rocco
Mixed
4 Years

Every time my door goes the dog barks and growls and everytime he can hear someone he goes to the door and barks, also when my partner comes round he barks and tries to go for him, also when walking him he chaes cars and tries to win them and barks at other dogs, and cats and birds, he also barks at strangers and pulls on the lead

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
878 Dog owners recommended

Hello Amie, It sounds like pup may be aggressive also. If aggressive, I highly recommend working with a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues like aggression, and who is very experienced with counter conditioning as well. Certain safety measures will need to be taken with aggression while training and interacting, so I don't recommend working on it alone. For the door, if pup isn't aggressive, but simply overly reactive, check out the video I have linked below on desensitizing pup to guests coming to the door. I would also teach a reliably long Place command and work up to distractions like guests gradually over several weeks. Barking at door: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpzvqN9JNUA Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s For the car chasing, check out the video below. This process will involve teaching pup a lot of impulse control, and dealing with underlying aggression if the behavior is prey driven. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buaZctWLWR0 Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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