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How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking at Visitors

How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking at Visitors
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon3-6 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

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. 

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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. 

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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.

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The Hush Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Pretend You Can't Hear Method

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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.

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.

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.

4

If he barks

If your pup barks at the doorbell or knock on the door, continue to ignore him.

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.

The Designated Spot Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Written by PB Getz

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 11/02/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Archie

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Australian Shepherd

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Two Years

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Question

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Our dog Archie used to be completely relaxed and quiet when people arrived. We adopted a 2nd dog. The new dog is nervous in his new surroundings and also came from a home with 6 other dogs who barked when anyone came to the house. Now Archie is barking instead of being relaxed and happy that someone is coming. He is tense. Not aggressive, but overexcited and sometimes "correcting" the new dog who barked or growled. How do I fix this? and should I give them a firm correction when they bark at me like a stranger when I walk in?

March 1, 2023

Archie's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, It sounds like the root issue is that they are overly sensitive to the door and new people right now. I would work on desensitization and teaching the Quiet command. That should address them barking at you as well. Barking at the door video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpzvqN9JNUA Quiet and Desensitize methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

March 1, 2023

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Peanut

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Dachshund

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Five Years

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Question

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My boyfriend comes over about 2-3 times a week. We have been together for almost 7 months. He usually does this with everyone with the exception of my grandparents. He constantly barks at him and chills when he sits but my bf cannot move when the dog is around otherwise he goes on a barking frenzy. What can I do? My dad wants him to bark at the door but is tired of his frequent barking. Im to the point where I gotta tell dad you can’t have it all. We usually give peanut happy praise and lots of love when my bf gets here which usually makes the barking die down less but it isn’t enough.

Aug. 18, 2022

Peanut's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, First, if you are giving the praise and love while pup is still in the middle of barking, you are actually rewarding the barking and teaching him to continue doing it in the future - in hopes of more praise and love. Be sure to correct what you don't want pup doing -barking, then reward what you do want - quietness in this case. I would start by teaching a Quiet command, then if pup barks, you can tell him quiet, and every correction or reward that comes after that is for pup obeying or disobeying the quiet command - making it more likely pup will still bark when someone knocks but not continue to all the time. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark I would then work on correcting any barking that happens after pup has been told Quiet, and rewarding when pup stays quiet after a certain amount of time. To do this, teach Quiet first well. When pup barks, tell pup quiet, and reward if they obey and get quiet, then reward every minute after that if they stay quiet, gradually extending those rewards as pup improves, to every 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 13 minutes, 18 minutes, 25 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes. Increase the interval of time when pup gets to the point where they consistently make it to the next reward time without barking between. If pup disobeys and continues to bark, I would correct, interrupting the barking with something like an unscented pet convincer, briefly blown at pup's side just to surprise them. Do NOT blow it in pup's face and don't use the citronella ones, only unscented air, citronella lingers and continues to correct for too long. Practice Quiet, correcting and rewarding when pup disobeys or obeys, and working up to longer periods of time of quietness gradually. At first, practice with someone pup is fine with outside knocking, then gradually work up to your bf being the one practicing with you after pup understands the general training. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Aug. 18, 2022


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