How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking at Visitors

Medium
3-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Does your pooch bark at every visitor who walks in your door? He does this for several reasons, based on the fact he is territorial. He barks to let you know there are intruders in his territory. In essence, your pup is quite sure in his mind that barking like this is his job and he is proud of being able to do it well. Okay, so although barking is a natural behavior in your pup, there are times when this type of behavior is completely unacceptable. One thing worth knowing is that if your dog thinks you are ignoring him, he may get frustrated and bark even more. The good news is that with a little time, effort, and patience, you can train him not to bark every time a visitor comes to the door. 

Defining Tasks

The command you decide to use is up to you, but keep it simple. Use something along the lines of "Quiet" or "Hush". Whatever you choose, keep it simple and use the same command each time, otherwise, you might confuse your dog. In reality, what you want your dog to do when someone comes to the door is to behave and remain quiet. The hard part is that this behavior goes against his nature, so it will take a lot of patience and practice to get him to the point where he completely ignores the doorbell or when anyone knocks on the door.

This is an important behavior that can be taught to any dog who is old enough to have mastered the basic commands. It can take several weeks for your pup to master this behavior, but if you are willing to train him on a daily basis, you can speed up the process. 

Getting Started

There aren't many things you will need to perform this type of training. These are a few:

  • Treats: To reward him when he gets it right.
  • Clicker: If you have been using one for his other training.
  • Time: At least one training session daily.
  • Patience: Training your dog to stop barking at visitors requires a lot of patience.
  • A quiet place: You need a quiet place to train your pup without any distractions.
  • At least one visitor: In most forms of training, you will need at least one visitor to knock on your door or ring your doorbell.

The Hush Method

Effective
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Step
1
Start with a treat
Find a treat your dog simply cannot resist, think pieces of cheese, doggy treats, liverwurst, anything your dog absolutely loves. The idea is not to fill up his stomach, but to reward him for getting it right.
Step
2
Grab a neighbor
Get a neighbor to volunteer as an assistant, and have them stand outside your front door ready to knock or ring the bell when you give your pup the 'speak' command. Give the command and if your pup doesn't bark, have your neighbor wait 2 seconds and then knock or ring.
Step
3
If he barks
At the very moment your pup barks, tell him "Yes" and give him a treat. Of course, if he barks before your neighbor rings or knocks, you can do the same thing.
Step
4
Repeat the training
Wait for a little while and repeat the above exercise. Each time the bell rings or your neighbor knocks and your dog barks, say "Yes" and give him a treat.
Step
5
'Hush'
Now when he speaks, use the 'hush' command while at the same time offering him a treat. Your dog cannot bark, sniff, and eat at the same time, so when he hushes to investigate, let him have the treat and praise him.
Step
6
Continue training
Continue this training until your dog fully understands what the command 'hush' means and that he is to do so unless you give him permission to speak. Be patient, it will take time and patience to make this happen.
Recommend training method?

The Pretend You Can't Hear Method

Effective
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Step
1
Grab some help
Grab a family member or neighbor who can devote an hour a day to helping you train your dog for up to a few weeks. You may need to line up several people to help ensure you have the training coverage you need.
Step
2
Ring my bell, ring my bell
Have the neighbor or family member stand outside the front door and ring the bell or knock on it.
Step
3
Pretend you can't hear
Your dog should look to you for guidance. When he does, simply pretend you can't hear it. If he starts to bark at the noise, ignore him too. If he ignores the bell too, give him a treat and praise him.
Step
4
If he barks
If your pup barks at the doorbell or knock on the door, continue to ignore him.
Step
5
Repeat this process
Keep doing this on a daily basis for at least two weeks or until your pup no longer barks when someone comes to the door. Just remember to give him a treat every time he doesn't bark at the doorbell or knock. In time, he will learn to completely ignore the noise.
Recommend training method?

The Designated Spot Method

Effective
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Step
1
Choose a "go to" spot
Choose a "go to" spot where your pup will be required to go when the doorbell rings or someone knocks on the door. This can be his bed, a specific spot on the carpet, or another room. No matter what you choose, stick to one spot in order to avoid confusion.
Step
2
Take him to his spot
Using a leash, give your dog the command you have chosen to make him go to his spot. Most owners use something along the lines of "go to X" where X represents the place. When he goes there, give him the 'stay' command and a treat.
Step
3
Ring the bell
Have a neighbor or a friend ring the bell. A single bark or two is okay, but your dog should stay on his spot when you tell him to. If he does, be sure to praise him and reward him.
Step
4
Up the stakes
Repeat this process using several people ringing the bell or knocking on the door. If you really want to up the stakes, have them ring the bell several times and then open the door. If he stays in his spot, reward him with a treat and praise.
Step
5
The final test
As a final test, stand next to your door, try having a conversation with an invisible person on the other side of your door or, better yet, with a real person. If your dog remains in his "go to" spot, be sure to reward him with lots of praise and plenty of treats, if not, go back and repeat the training until he no longer barks at the doorbell or knock, but instead goes directly to his spot and stays there quietly.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Buster
beagle cross
9 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Buster
beagle cross
9 Months

How to stop him being scared of new people, especially men, and running away and/or barking at them

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
115 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jodie, Practice walking by strangers, at first from a distance, and whenever he remains calm or looks at you for direction, reward him. You will occasionally see him deciding whether to act fearfully or not, when you see him thinking about it, call his name, and then reward him for looking at you. By doing this, you are telling him what to focus on instead of his fears. In this case focusing on you and remaining calm. As he improves, very gradually decrease the distance between you and the other people. When you are very close to other people, reward him when he acts calm or is attentive toward you, by pausing and passing him treats or inserting the peanut butter straw for him to lick. If you think that he might bite someone then spend time getting him used to a basket muzzle, by giving him treats or letting him lick a peanut butter covered straw whenever you put it on, and have him wear the muzzle when he passes by someone close enough that he could bite them. Also, recruit friends or family members that your dog does not know, to help you. Put Buster on a six to ten foot leash, attached to a collar or a harness, that you know he cannot slip out of. Have your friend enter your home, yard, or public location where you are, and stand or sit about fifteen feet away from Buster, and ignore him. He will likely bark for quite a while. Simply wait for him to take a break for a couple of seconds. Be patient and expect this to take a long time at first. Give your friend lots of your dog's favorite treats, and any time that he is quiet or doing something calm, for even two seconds, have your friend toss him a treat. The treat needs to come from your friend so that Bailey will learn to trust him. As Buster warms up to the person and is doing well overtime, allow your dog to get closer by attaching the leash to something secure that is a couple of feet closer to your friend. Keep repeating this, until your dog is only a couple of feet out of reach from your friend. If your dog is still doing well, and not reacting fearfully, and wanting to meet the person, then give your friend even better treats, and allow your dog to reach the person all the way if he chooses to, while the person calmly interacts with your dog and gives him treats. Every time that your dog goes up to the person without barking, have your friend reward him. When your dog is comfortable around your first friend, then utilize another friend's help, and practice the same thing with that person. Keep practicing with other friends, one person at a time. If your dog becomes used to people in your home but still reacts badly to people outside, then have your friend meet you in a public place, so that your dog thinks your friend, who he has never met, is a stranger. Good locations to meet could include your neighborhood side walk, in a pet store, or at the park. The more people that you can get to help you with this, the better your dog will react to people in general, rather than just being comfortable around a few people. Practice this the most around the types of people your dog is scared of. In this case men. Even practice this around children, once your dog is doing better with people in general, but be extremely careful around kids, and make sure that the child is very comfortable with all dogs and not frightened by Buster's barking. When you practice around children, use a leash and have your dog wear a collar or harness that he cannot slip out of. Have him wear a basket muzzle during the interaction if you think there is a chance of him biting out of fear, and let the child reward him with a peanut butter or cheese covered straw for him to lick, if the treats are too big to fit through the muzzle holes. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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