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Many dogs automatically bark when they hear a knocking or a doorbell at your front door. However, some dogs need to be trained to perform this act of alerting their owners of someone at the door. Though some dogs are territorial and want to know what's happening at your front door every moment of every day, others may feel this is your job because you are the leader of the pack.
Training your puppy to bark when there's someone at your front door can benefit many dog owners, from individuals with hearing loss to those who want to ensure the safety and security of their home. Alerting you when there is someone at your door can be a task you teach your puppy, so for his entire life, this task becomes his responsibility and in essence, his job. This helps dog owners in high-rise buildings with buzzers or doorbells or even out in the country with a simple knock on the door.
Starting this training will require you to know what your puppy is interested in doing from the start. If he barks at your door already when he hears the doorbell or not, he is likely to continue this behavior. If he doesn't bark now, it is something you will need to train specifically. If there are other things your dog is interested in barking at, such as noises around the house, you can redirect these noises to specifically the noise at your door. You can also teach your puppy to speak when he hears a noise. This will condition him to automatically speak when he hears that noise coming from the other side of the door. You may need some help creating noise at your front door, but ultimately if you teach him to bark at the sound of a doorbell or knock from inside your home, he should associate that with the noise he hears when there's someone at your door as well.
Other than the distraction and noise coming from your door, you will want to train this task free of distractions. You can train different commands or simply train your dog to react to noises. You may want to have some tasty treats on hand, as you do with all of his training, to reward him for his responsiveness.
The Knocking Noise Method
Get your puppy's attention in the house and try to hold it with either a toy or a treat.
Once you have his attention, create a knocking noise. You can knock on the floor or counter near you but ensure your dog doesn't see what you're doing and only hears the noise.
While you still have your puppy's attention with his toy or a treat, ask him what that noise was. Stop what you're doing, pause and look around after you've asked the question. This will turn his attention from you to figure it out what the noise was.
If your puppy does not automatically bark at the noise or at your curiosity, you can bark at him and say the word "speak" to get him to learn a new command.
Repeat this several times over the course of your day, only in different areas of your house. Replicate the same knocking noise without your puppy knowing it is you knocking and get him to bark when he hears it.
At the door
If you have a buddy who can help you, have them knock on your front door and react the same with the question, ‘what's that?’
At this point in your training, your puppy should start barking at the knock on the door. If he doesn't, you can replicate a bark to get his attention and see if he will mimic you.
Keep practicing by knocking on various surfaces in your house so he understands what knocking sounds like and knows to bark when he hears that same noise at your door.
The Doorbell Method
Play around with technology on your mobile device or computer and set up some doorbell noises so that they go off randomly or you at least have them handy with a play button.
Start by playing with your dog. You can play tug-of-war or roll a ball around in your living room.
In the middle of your play session, grab your dog's toy and continue to engage him but maintain control of the toy. Make the doorbell sound either from your mobile device or computer and pause your play.
Redirect your dog's attention from playtime to on-guard time. Hold the toy up in the air or down in your lap and pause your game to ask him what the noise was.
If your puppy doesn't bark automatically when he hears the doorbell or when you pause your game to inquire what the noise was, make the doorbell ring again. He will sense your energy and curiosity and begin to either bark or search for the noise.
Continue your curiosity until you get your puppy to bark. You may even need to make a barking noise yourself before he understands exactly what you want him to do.
Keep practicing making this doorbell sound while the two of you are playing. Each time you hear the sound, pause your game and ask him what the noise was. With lots of practice, he should eventually begin to bark each time he hears the sound of a doorbell.
The Who's Here Method
Recruit a friend
Get your friends to help you with this one. Place them on the opposite side of your door so they can knock on your door or ring your doorbell while you're on the inside getting your dog excited about letting you know who's here.
Have your friend ring the doorbell and wait patiently.
From inside the house with your dog, as soon as you hear the doorbell sound, get excited and ask him 'who's here?' You can begin to run to the door in an excited fashion to get him excited as well.
As you are going to the door to check who's here, get your little guy excited. If he's not barking on his own, make lots of noise to rile him up a little bit. This should cause him to bark and set the expectation that he should bark each time he hears that noise.
Repeat a lot
Working with friends, repeat this a lot with your puppy. Have your friends knock on the door or ring the doorbell. Ask your dog 'who's here?' and then get excited waiting for him to bark. With lots of practice, he will eventually understand your expectation is that he barks when he hears that noise.
If your goal over time is to stop asking your dog the question 'who's here?' to get the response of barking, then slowly transition from asking the question when the doorbell sounds to only looking at your dog when the doorbell sounds. Over time, he will understand his cue to bark is the actual noise at the door, rather than your question.
By Stephanie Plummer
Published: 04/13/2018, edited: 01/08/2021
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