You’re not sure who finds the doorbell more stressful: you, your dog or your visitors. Every time the doorbell rings, there is pandemonium. Your normally well-behaved dog goes crazy, won’t stop barking and wants to be first through the front door to see who’s there.
So, what can you do to make the next delivery to your home a more pleasurable experience? Find out as we give you the low-down on how to train your dog from barking when the doorbell rings.
Why Dogs Bark When the Doorbell Rings
When your dog barks, the reason is almost always related to defending their territory at all costs. Dogs associate the doorbell with the arrival of a stranger who they may perceive as a threat, or of a friend they’re excited to see.
Whoever it is, there’s a chance an outsider will be crossing the line into what is theirs and your space. As a responsible owner, it’s up to you to teach your dog how to behave in a way that’s emotionally appropriate.
For a dog, it might appear totally natural to start barking as soon as they hear the doorbell. That way they can alert you to any perceived danger. Some dogs may bark more than others depending on their breed, temperament and previous experience.
As is the way with most dog training, you’ll need plenty of patience, a consistent approach and lots of treats. Having another pair of human hands can be helpful but not essential.
A Few Short-Term Solutions For Barking Dogs
Before beginning any training you may be able to mitigate the stress a visitor may inadvertently cause. You could do this by asking them not to ring the bell and to text or call when they’ve arrived. You could then meet them outside before letting them in.
You might also be able to ask delivery companies to leave packages in a specific place outside that avoids anyone ringing the doorbell. Notifications that a delivery has happened tend to get made online or by text.
The difficulty is that these solutions are not watertight. They also imply that your dog barking at the doorbell is simply governing an aspect of normal life. You need to take back control.
Training Your Dog to Stop Barking When the Doorbell Rings
The end game should be to get your dog to go calmly to their crate, bed or safe place when the doorbell rings. It’s going to take time and there are many steps to take in order to achieve that goal.
In the first instance, practice walking with your dog to the front door and touching the knob or handle. Order your dog to sit and reward them when they do.
Move on by giving commands, such as, “One moment, please,” or, “I’ll be right there,” to an imaginary person on the other side of the door. Offer your dog a treat when they stay calm and don’t bark at the doorbell.
- Positive Association
This is going to involve you either ringing the doorbell yourself or finding the sound online and playing it back on a hand-held device.
Have some high-value treats at the ready that may take more than a second for your dog to devour. Show your dog the treat, and, while they’re licking it, push the doorbell or play back the sound it makes. Give plenty of praise when your dog continues to lick.
Repeat the process until your dog consistently licks the treat even when the doorbell rings. You can then move on to the next stage of pushing the doorbell before you give them the treat. Again, give lots of praise when they display the correct behavior.
- Going to Their Bed
Now that your dog has become used to the doorbell sound, you’ll need to train them to go to their bed or “safe place” when there’s a ring at the door. The aim is to give your dog an action to work towards that isn’t compatible with barking.
If you have a friend or relative who can play the part of your next visitor so much the better. It’s possible to train your dog on your own but you’ll need to be able to make the doorbell sound from within your home.
As the doorbell rings, distract your dog with another high-value treat. In a calm voice, use the treat so that they follow you to their bed or crate. Shower them with praise and only give them the treat once they have made it onto their bed.
- Repeat this process during training sessions over several days.
Once you’ve cracked stage one, when the doorbell rings, start introducing a verbal command such as, “Go to bed,” or, “Place” whilst you carry on guiding them to their bed before offering them the treat.
You can then begin to try and cut out accompanying them to their bed. Your aim should be to use the verbal command alone followed by the treat once they have gone to their bed whenever the doorbell rings.
- Achieving this part of the process takes time, so be patient
Build on the training by opening the door and pretending to talk to someone. If you’ve been unable to involve another person until now, this would be a good opportunity to enlist the help of a friend or relative.
- Always give plenty of verbal praise as you go to the dog’s bed and give a treat
Some More Top Tips to get your dog to stop barking
Remember that repetition, patience, praise and consistency are key drivers in any kind of successful dog training. Always teach your dog using praise and reward. Scolding a dog never works and, in fact, may result in the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.
- Keep a treat jar close to the front door for unexpected emergencies
- Train older dogs before introducing a puppy to avoid the passing on of bad habits
- If you’re adopting a puppy and an older dog, train them separately at first
- Before training, consider a safety gate to stop your dog getting to the front door
A Little Extra Help
If you’re adopting a rescue dog, issues around territory, anxiety and abandonment can be especially complex. If you have any concerns about your dog barking and their behavior, please get in touch with us and talk to one of our veterinary experts. A video consultation with one of Cooper Pet Care’s qualified veterinarians is only a few clicks away. Fast, simple, and secure – get the answers you need.
You’ll find plenty more useful articles about dog training in our blog section. Find out here how to successfully brush your dog’s teeth, for example.