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
0 Votes
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 and Success Stories

Question
Milo
Shih Tzu/Poodle, Chihuahua
3 Years
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Question
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Milo
Shih Tzu/Poodle, Chihuahua
3 Years

My dog has recently started snapping and nipping when being disciplined. I think he is start ing to become food and toy aggressive. We used to live alone all his life until recently. Now we are in a hotel with 2 other people, our house was flooded and is under repair. These behaviors have just started. How can I correct them before they get really bad. My dog was always laced back and very gentle. Please help me. I am a70 yo widow and Milo is my buddy. Thank you.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
703 Dog owners recommended

Hello Barbara, I recommend starting with gently building pup's respect for you through obedience and the working method from the article I have linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you I would also pay attention to pup's overall body language and behavior. Do they seem anxious or like they are in pain or feeling poorly. If so, I would check with your vet since the behavior is recent. If pup is anxious, working on regular obedience training, trick training, things like structured heeling, agility obstacles with treats, and keeping consistent boundaries and routines can all help pup feel more secure. Be careful to act calm and confident around pup, and not angry or sorry for pup - the calmness and confidence from you can help pup also feel more calm and confident. Consistent rules and routes can help pup adjust to the new situation. If pup is nervous about the new roommates, check out the section on shy dogs and humans from the article below. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-socialize-a-shy-dog/ Be sure no one is using any disciplining methods that involve hitting with hands or angrily yelling at pup, as that can cause an aggressive response to touch and defensiveness too. Finally, you may need to temporarily get pup used to wearing a basket muzzle using treats, and keep a basket muzzle and a drag leash on pup while you are home during the day to supervise. When pup refuses to obey a command, you can then calmly enforce it without being bitten to stay consistent with the rules. Also, reward pup for obedience, calm, good responses, and behavior you want to see too. Choose a basket muzzle so that pup can eat treats through the muzzle's holes and be more comfortable. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJTucFnmAbw Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Scooby
Stray do
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Scooby
Stray do
2 Years

He bite everyone

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
703 Dog owners recommended

Hello Minnie, There are a number of things that could be going on and need to be addressed. I recommend hiring a professional trainer who specializes in aggression and comes well recommended by their previous clients to work with you in person to evaluate pup's aggression and tailor the training to your needs. Check out Thomas from the Canine Educator on Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-TFajjG5CMAmUrJG1ONtKQ You may also need to desensitize pup to wearing a basket muzzle to be able to train safely if pup is biting and breaking the skin when they bite. Muzzle introduction video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJTucFnmAbw&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=6&t=0s Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Clark Kent
Chihuhua
10 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Clark Kent
Chihuhua
10 Months

Hello,

My puppy Clark (chihuahua mix) barks continuously at visitors, essentially never stopping unless they are perfectly still. Treats and commands like sit and lay down only work for seconds at a time. Placing in his crate doesn’t seem to calm him down either. Covid makes it hard to bring in a trainer or friends to help with the situation. Do you have any suggestions?

Thank you!

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

Hello there. It sounds like you have your hands full. I am going to provide you with information on how to correct this behavior. You won’t be able to solve your dog’s overprotective behavior in one day. In the meantime, you don’t want to put your life on hold. You can still invite guests into your home as long as you prioritize managing your dog’s behavior. You’ll need a short-term strategy to start showing your overprotective dog what behavior is unacceptable while also keeping your guests safe. There are a few ways to do this. Leash: Keeping your dog on a leash while friends are visiting gives you control over your dog’s actions. Leash him up before the doorbell rings and keep him close as you greet your guests. During the visit, you can let the leash drag and only use it if you have to. Muzzle: If you feel his behavior warrants the use of a muzzle for the time being while you work on solving this problem, then it may be a wise choice. Separate Room: Your dog won’t get better without practice, but sometimes you have to weigh the risks versus rewards. If your overprotective dog is in the beginning stages of training, keeping him separated from guests might be best. You don’t want to put a friend’s safety at risk or needlessly stress out your dog. As long as you keep working toward stopping the behavior, separating an overprotective dog from company is a temporary management solution. Start Obedience Training Obedience training is a must for every dog, and it’s especially important for overprotective dogs. Working with your dog on things like “sit-stay,” “down-stay,” and “heel,” will help build his impulse control. He’ll start seeing you as a capable leader and will turn to you for guidance. A mistake many pup parents make is stopping obedience training once their dog masters the basics skills. Being well-trained is about more than knowing how to sit when a person holds a treat in front of their face. It’s a lifetime lesson, and even senior dogs need regular training. Commit to training your dog several times a day for short periods of time. Make Your Dog Work for Affection You can’t help but smother your dog with love every time he’s within petting distance, but that isn’t always what’s best for him. He will start to feel entitled to your attention, and that’s part of the problem. To remedy this, initiate a “work for it” program that allows you to show your dog affection as long as he earns your attention in appropriate ways. Make him sit, stay calm, and do whatever else you ask before doling out whatever it is he wants. If he’s excited for dinner, make him sit and leave it before digging in. If he wants in your lap, ask him to do a trick first. Never give your dog attention if he rudely nudges your hand or barks in your face. He needs to know polite behavior, and polite behavior only, is how he gets what he wants. You ignore everything else. Involve Other People in the Dog’s Life Most overprotective dogs choose to guard only the person they feel closest to. It’s usually the same person who fills their food bowls, takes them on walks, and handles training. They become obsessively attached, and a strong bond gradually mutates into overprotective behavior. Putting some space between you and your dog will help him learn to trust other people. Enlist the entire family’s help and take a step back in your role as primary caregiver. Have someone else feed the dog a few times a week, and encourage other people to engage her in playtime. This will help him be more comfortable with different people. Socialize Socialization is best done during the puppy stages, but even adult and senior dogs benefit from new experiences. Exposing your overprotective dog to new places, experiences, and people, will help him learn that not everyone is out to hurt you. Make sure each new experience is positive, and encourage your dog without forcing him to interact. If your dog is afraid, you don’t want to make things worse. Take socialization at the pace he’s comfortable with. If he seems overwhelmed, back up and try something a little smaller. These are some general ideas and they can be modified to fit your dynamic. These behaviors do take time, I am talking months, to correct. And sometimes the behaviors get worse before they get better. So just push through that time if that starts to happen. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you for writing in!

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Question
Cooper
Black and Tan Coonhound
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Cooper
Black and Tan Coonhound
1 Year

He barks at every guest coming into the house as well as every pedestrian walking by the fence due to a popular sidewalk running along side our house.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
703 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jeremy, If pup is not aggressive but simply reactive toward people, I suggest working on desensitizing pup to people and teaching a quiet response. Check out the video linked below and the video channel linked below that for further resources. Door barking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpzvqN9JNUA Barking series: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Koda
German Shepherd
5 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Koda
German Shepherd
5 Years

Dog Barks at random noises in the house and when cars pull up

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

Hello, German Shepherds can sometimes have an innate protective personality and it's quite likely that is where the barking comes from. But also remember, most dogs love to bark and vocalize so it is not unusual. The Verbal Command Method here: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-to-not-bark and the Quiet Method here are essentially the same idea: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark. The Desensitize Method in the Shih Tzu guide is effective as well. Work on both of those with Koda as techniques to deal with the barking. Practice 10-20 minutes daily and always end on a positive note. Give lots of verbal praise as well. Good luck training!

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