Doggy Door Manners: How to get your dog to stop barking at the door
Dogs can get excited with other people at the door. There’s some mystery about who is there, what will happen when the person comes in, and what will happen next. If you create predictable routines and calm routines about arrivals, you should see this be less of an event for your dog.
How to stop a dog from jumping on guests
There are many possible training plans for this scenario. One option is to have the other person call when they arrive. You can put your dog on a leash and reward your dog for sitting, being calm, or focusing on you while the other person enters. Use frequent treats at first. As your dog gains experience, you can use fewer treats and eventually remove the food rewards. For some very excited dogs, you will need to practice this at non-arrival times. Ask the other person to step outside and then step back in while you reward your dog. If he stands up, calmly ask him to sit and continue with the training. The person can come in and out 5-10x per session.
Rehearsing this with other people living in your home can also help your dog better prepare for rehearsals with actual guests. The more practice your dog has, the more prepared he will be for the real performance.
A second option involves calm petting. Rather than the person coming in and being excited, the person can enter, calmly get to the dog’s level, and slowly pet your dog while gently holding his collar to prevent jumping.
A third option is perfect for days when you are in a hurry, your dog is not up for training, or you cannot give your dog full attention when a guest arrives. Have the guest call or text upon arrival. Take your dog to a crate, pen, or room away from the action. Play white noise and give your dog a delicious chew item. If your dog is not very aware of a guest from this location, your dog is likely not going to react or rehearse behaviors you do not like. Note that this doesn’t help your dog greet better in the future, but it does prevent your dog from practicing the routine of jumping on a guest. Some dogs need to be trained to rest in their safe spaces before guests arrive.
How to stop a dog from barking at the doorbell
One easy solution is to use technology instead of a doorbell! Many new doorbell systems can send an alert to your phone rather than a traditional chime. This can let you know about an arrival without your dog getting an obvious clue. Another way to use technology is to ask friends to call or text when they arrive rather than just coming in or ringing the doorbell. This allows you to move your dog to his safe resting space or get him on the leash and ready to train.
If you want to work on the actual doorbell, take your dog on his leash and onto your porch. Have some high-value treats on hand. Press the doorbell, and then, as soon as it starts, toss 3-10 treats to the ground for your dog to sniff. It’s ok if your dog barked before eating. Repeat this a few times per session, and you can do multiple sessions daily. Once your dog is comfortable, move just inside the door with the leash still on. Reach outside and chime the doorbell. Toss the treats. Repeat a few times per session. Once this is going well, you may need to enlist an assistant as you change where you are with your dog in the house. Gradually move your location down the hallway or into another room. Only move a few feet further per repetition. If your dog has trouble, go back to an easier stage.
Some dogs may find that too difficult. You can make it easier by recording the doorbell sound when your dog isn’t present. You can then play that sound at a lower volume or a shorter duration.
How to stop a dog from barking at knocking
You can use a similar process. Start in a room of the house, far from the front door. Quietly tap the wall with one finger. Your goal is to tap so quietly that your dog barely notices the noise. Tap, then toss a treat. Repeat 5-10x. If your dog is alert, then tap more quietly. If your dog looks eagerly for the treats, gradually increase the volume every few repetitions. You can then move to a quiet knock and then to multiple knocks. If you get any alert behaviors like barking, standing upright, ears up at the noise, or a quick head turn towards the noise, then go back down to an easier level.
After you can do this at a random wall, practice on the interior part of your front door, and start again with the quiet tap followed by a treat. Gradually increase the volume or intensity. Change only one variable at a time. For example, if you go from a few taps with one finger to using your knuckles to knock, only do one quiet tap.
Once your dog is successful at this, enlist the help of another person. Have that person start quietly and gradually increase the intensity of knocking on the interior of the door while your dog is present. The other person will knock, and you will give the treats. As before, start with quiet taps and work up to multiple knocks.
Then, the person can move to the outside of the door. Keep your dog on a leash and leave the door open so that your dog can see someone is there. Then, start easy again and gradually increase the volume.
You can then repeat the lesson with the door closed. Let your dog see the person exit at the beginning of the session so that you have less of a surprise. Some dogs will need many sessions at this level before you increase the difficulty and move to surprise sessions.
After succeeding here, you can move to surprise repetitions at less expected times.