How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking at the Doorbell

Medium
1-2 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

It’s a quiet Sunday afternoon, the baby is napping--finally--dad's watching the football game, and your preschooler is coloring at the kitchen table while you start preparing the evening meal. All is peaceful and calm. Suddenly, the doorbell rings and everyone's blood pressure goes through the roof! Why? Because your two adorable min pins, Susie and Sam, are going to go crazy, barking uncontrollably and hysterically. 

Soon, the baby is awake and screaming, dad is yelling at the dogs, and your preschooler looks like she wants to cry. Does it have to be like this every time the doorbell rings? Thankfully, no! The chaos that ensues every time the doorbell rings and your dogs go nuts is avoidable and correctable. The training and time you put in will be well worth it and paid back in future calm Sunday afternoons.

Defining Tasks

To avoid barking and crazy behavior from your dog every time the doorbell rings, you will want to train your dog to ignore the doorbell, be calm when it rings, and possibly, to look for or perform another behavior other than barking. Alternative behaviors might be to sit quietly, look for a treat, go to a mat, or go to a crate. 

How you train your dog to react to the doorbell will depend on the situation and your dog. A frightened or aggressive dog may be better off leaving the situation and going to another place in the home, whereas a friendly and excited dog may be taught calmer responses and still get to remain near the door. Remember, your dog is just trying to warn you that someone is approaching your property. Even young dogs will quickly learn to associate the doorbell with someone, often a stranger, approaching the home and will react by barking.  Your goal is to teach your dog to stop barking when commanded, and for your dog to remain calm.  

Getting Started

Make sure you set your dog up to succeed with training by setting training time dedicated to teaching your dog to be calm when the doorbell rings on a consistent basis. Having an assistant set up to play a visitor and ring the doorbell, so you can be ready and control the situation, will be very useful. Other training aids, like treats for rewards and a clicker or quiet place like a crate or bed for your dog to go be calm at, can also be used. Do not yell at your dog or punish him when the doorbell rings and they start barking, as this only excites and provides a negative association with the doorbell that will exacerbate the behavior. Make sure everyone in the household is on board with the training plan so that training is consistent.

The Reverse Training Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Treat approach to door
Step towards the door, without the doorbell ringing. When your dog approaches the door excitedly, say “just a minute” or “hush”, step away from the door, use a clicker and drop a few treats.
Step
2
Add verbal cue to door
Step towards the door, touch the doorknob, give your verbal cue, step away from the door, and ask your dog to sit or down. When your dog performs the requested behavior, click and treat.
Step
3
Increase distance
Gradually move your dog further and further from the door before asking 'sit' or 'down'. Click and treat.
Step
4
Ask for distance before treat
Now go to the door, still with no doorbell trigger, command 'just a minute', or 'hush' and wait for your dog to move away from the door on their own and sit. Click and toss a treat, give praise.
Step
5
Lengthen approach
Now approach the door from a different part of the house, say 'just a minute', direct your dog to sit, go to the door and jiggle the doorknob. If your dog sits in her spot, toss a treat. If she barks or approaches the door, repeat the 'just a minute' or 'hush command' and redirect to your dog's spot and ask your dog to sit. Click and reward when your dog complies. Repeat.
Step
6
Add open door
Repeat previous steps, but add opening the door. Verbally cue, direct to sit, and click and reward your dog for staying quiet and sitting while the door is approached and opened.
Step
7
Add bell
Have an assistant ring the doorbell. Give your dog your verbal cue, direct to sit, and click and reward if your dog complies, then go open the door.
Step
8
Reinforce quiet
If your dog barks or does not sit in her spot, go back to previous steps and repeat. Reinforce appropriate behavior.
Recommend training method?

The Ignore Doorbell Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Ring bell
Have a friend ring the doorbell while you sit quietly in an adjacent room.
Step
2
Ignore bell
When your dog barks, ignore your dog. Do not get up to answer the door.
Step
3
Wait for barking to stop
Wait for your dog to stop barking. This can take a while if the behavior is very ingrained.
Step
4
Reward stop barking
When your dog stops barking and comes over to you, give your dog a treat and praise.
Step
5
Approach door when quiet
Ask your dog to sit, and go over to the door where your friend is still waiting patiently. Note, several minutes or more may have elapsed. If your dog follows you or starts barking again, return to sitting quietly, ignoring your dog. Wait until your dog stops barking, treat again, and ask your dog to sit in her spot again.
Step
6
Open door
When your dog remains sitting quietly in her spot, approach the door, and invite your friend in. Have your friend praise and greet your dog.
Step
7
Practice
Repeat daily for several days until your dog learns that when the doorbell rings, sitting quietly will get a treat and the door opened. Barking gets ignored, and no open door.
Recommend training method?

The Go To Place Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Create a place
Give your dog a 'go to place' command, like “mat” or “room” to direct your dog to a mat, crate, or a specific room. Proceed with your dog to the area with lots of treats on hand.
Step
2
Assosiate with treats
Hold a treat party at the location. Give lots of praise and treats, click if using a clicker. Praise your dog. Repeat so your dog learns that when he is commanded to go to his place he will get lots of rewards.
Step
3
Provide release
Ask your dog to stay in the place until you provide a release command such as “free”. Gradually increase the time to a few minutes until well established.
Step
4
Ring doorbell
Have an assistant ring the doorbell. Direct your dog to the mat or room, ignore the doorbell, and go with your dog to his place. Have another big treat party when your dog stops barking. Ignore if he barks, but give lots of praise and treats when quiet in place.
Step
5
Go to door when in place and quiet
Ask your dog to stay and go to the door. You may need to have another assistant hold your dog on a leash in their place while you go to the door, or close your dog in the room while you go to the door.
Step
6
Reinforce quiet
Return to your dog. Reward your dog for staying and not barking.
Step
7
Ignore barking
If your dog is barking, wait for him to stop and be quiet, then click and reward. Ask him to stay in place and repeat. Reward quiet and staying, ignore barking, and redirect your dog to his place if your dog leaves his spot before being released.
Step
8
Practice
Practice until your dog learns that he needs to stay quietly in his place to get a reward when the doorbell rings.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Oliver
Lhasa Apso
9 Years
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Question
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Oliver
Lhasa Apso
9 Years

I've heard that Lhasas were originally bred to sound alerts to the bigger, guard dogs outside monastaries. But most aren't needed for that job anymore. My dog doesn't wait for the doorbell or knock. If he sees someone even walking by the house or hears the garage door go up, he goes nuts. Help please.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
460 Dog owners recommended

Hello Judy, First, I suggest teaching him the Quiet command by following the Quiet method from the article linked below. Quiet method and Desensitization method from the article below: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Second, it sounds like he is overly sensitive to people approaching. I suggest working on desensitizing him to people, the garage, and other things he tends to bark at around your home. Check out the video below. The trainer in this video demonstrates desensitizing her dog to people coming over and all of the noises associated with that, you can also include people walking by and the garage door by following the same type of steps. The Desensitization method from the article linked above for teaching quiet will also have some useful tips for desensitizing. How to Desensitize to guests: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxPrNnulp5s Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Sam
Mix
3 Years
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Question
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Sam
Mix
3 Years

Our dog has been trained in agility and does a ton of different tricks. She has a cat brother and is extremely cuddly with her family and friends. However, strangers coming into the house or when the neighbors pull into their driveway (we live in attached townhouses) she barks aggressively. We’ve tried the wait to stop barking but that’s not an option because she can outlast us and we don’t want neighbors or strangers to be uncomfortable. It’s hard to get her to focus on us when she is focused on an “intruder”. Any advice?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
460 Dog owners recommended

Hello Elise, First, for the barking, I suggest combining a few things in your case. You need a way to communicate with him so I suggest teaching the Quiet command from the Quiet method in the article I have linked below - don't expect this alone to work but it will be an important part of the puzzle for what I will suggest next. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Next, once pup understands what Quiet means you will choose an interrupter - which will be a form of punishment - neither too harsh nor ineffective. An e-collar or Pet Convincer are two of the most effective types of bark interrupters for most dogs. A pet convincer is a small canister of pressurized, unscented air that you can spray a quick puff of at the dog's side to surprise them enough to help them calm back down. (Don't use citronella and avoid spraying in the face!). An e-collar, aka remote training collar, uses stimulation to interrupt the dog. Only use a high quality e-collar for this, such as E-collar technologies mini educator, Dogtra, SportDog, or Gamin. A good collar should have at least 40 levels, the more levels the more accurately you can train - finding the lowest level your dog will respond to, called a "Working level" so the training is less adverse. In situations where you know pup will bark or is already barking (catch them before they bark if you can), command "Quiet". If they obey, reward with a treat and very calm praise. If they bark anyway or continue to bark, say "Ah Ah" firmly but calmly and give a brief correction. Repeat the correction each time they bark until you get a brief pause in the barking. When they pause, praise and reward then. If pup tends to get highly aroused while barking and may redirect aggression toward you if you are close by, you will need to correct remotely and not with the pet convincer, unless a professional trainer is helping you manage any safety issues then. The combination of communication, correction, and rewarding - with the "Ah Ah" and praise to mark their good and bad behavior with the right timing, is very important. Most bark training only gives part of that equation. Fitting an e-collar - it should be put on while he is calm, just standing around - Ideally have him wear the collar around for a while before starting any training so he won't associate the training with the collar but just with his barking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLxB6gYsliI Finding the level to use for him (sometimes you will have to go 1 or 2 levels higher during training while the dog is aroused but once he improves you can usually decrease back to his normal level again) - this training level is called a dog's "Working level": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM Once pup is calmer in general after the initial training, practice exposing him a lot to the things that trigger the barking normally (make a list - even if it's long). Whenever he DOESN'T bark around something that he normally would have, calmly praise and reward him to continue the desensitization process. An automatic bark collar can also be used during times when he likes to bark while you aren't there after the initial training is done - so he understands that the correction is for his barking at that point in the training. While you are not home, confine him in a crate or room that doesn't look out the windows right now - barking at things out the window lets him practice the bad behavior over and over again and barking is a self-rewarding behavior because of the arousing chemicals released in a dog's brain - so once a dog starts he is naturally encouraged to continue it and stays in that state of mind if you aren't there to interrupt. Rewarding calmness is half the training, so don't skip that part - the interrupter often helps with the initial part of the training but the rewards are often what give long-term results. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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