Every time the doorbell rings, your dog’s barking fills the room. You might even dread company coming over, since you know your dog will bark over and over again. So, what can you do about it?
The good news is that there are a lot of safe, effective methods you can try to get your dog’s barking under control. A big part of this is understanding the potential reasons why your dog exhibits this type of behavior. Here’s a look at why dogs bark at the doorbell, and how you can help stop this behavior.
Why Is Your Dog Barking At The Door?
In order to deal with this behavior, it’s important that you understand why the behavior is happening in the first place. A dog has extremely sensitive hearing compared to a human’s. Your doorbell is designed to be loud enough for a human to hear – that noise can be even louder for your dog. So, you can see why it could be very startling to your canine companion.
In addition to being a startling experience, however, the doorbell could be scary for your dog. They may bark because they’re simply afraid of the sound it makes. If your dog’s ears are pulled back, their tail is between their legs, or if they start spinning or shaking, that could mean they fear the doorbell sound. That could be why they’re barking so much.1
But a dog barking at the doorbell could just be a sign of excitement. You might have an extremely friendly dog who loves it when company comes around. If your dog’s barking is accompanied by a wagging tail, panting, or running back and forth, that probably means they’re just really happy someone is coming by – to see them, of course.2
Other Reasons Dogs Bark At The Door
Dogs barking at a doorbell can occur for other reasons as well. Some of the most common are territorial barking, alarm barking, and even separation anxiety. Here’s a quick look at each of them.
- Territorial barking – A dog’s bark is sometimes a response to someone encroaching on their territory – your home. It could be a person, another dog, or some other type of animal. Many dogs who often ride in cars consider the vehicle to be a part of their territory as well. That’s why they might bark when seeing other vehicles or people nearby.3
- Alarm barking – If you hear your dog bark whenever they hear other dogs barking in the neighborhood, or when they see something they’re not used to seeing (or hear something they’re not used to hearing, like a doorbell), that’s an example of alarm barking. They’re telling you they perceive some sort of threat.4
- Separation anxiety – This occurs when a dog exhibits excessive barking behavior when their dog parent is away from home. Other signs of separation anxiety include destructive behavior, depression, pacing and more. A doorbell ringing if the owner isn’t home could set off an enthusiastic round of barking.5
Can A Dog’s Barking Be A Sign Of A Health Issue?
Pay attention to your dog’s barking, including when and how they do it. Has the dog’s barking all of a sudden increased lately? Does your pet whine or lick their lips while barking? That could be a sign of a health problem. Older dogs may bark more if they’re experiencing changes in their vision or hearing. They’re not perceiving their environment like they used to, and that could lead to increased vocalization.6
If your pet’s barking is out of character, take them to the vet to see if there’s a medical problem that needs to be addressed.
Find The Right Ways To Keep Your Dog Calm: Positive Reinforcement Is Always Better Than Punishment
Dogs bark. That’s what they do. But excessive barking, whether it’s stimulated by a doorbell ring or anything else, is a problem. The good news is, there are ways to modify this behavior.
The method you use will have a lot to do with the reason for this behavior. If your dog is startled or frightened by the doorbell, for example, it might be better to simply take them outside (or to another part of your home) if you know someone’s coming over. If your dog tends to bark due to excitement, there are ways to keep them calm.7
Remember that whatever you do, always use positive reinforcement when trying to change your dog’s behavior. Never punish your pet in any way. You want your dog to associate the sound of the doorbell with something good, like a treat. They need to know they’ll receive that reward only if they’re calm when the doorbell rings.8
So, how do you go about calming a barking dog when the doorbell rings? Read on to learn about a few of the best options.
Help For Dog Parents: How To Stop Dog From Barking At Door (And Other Inappropriate Barking)
Here’s a step-by-step look at a couple of effective dog training methods. These approaches are effective for people who want to stop their pets from wanting to bark whenever they hear the doorbell.
The Reverse Training Method
- Step 1 – Move toward your front door. If your dog follows you, say something like “hush” and then step away. Drop a couple of treats.
- Step 2 – Go toward the door again, but this time, grab the knob. Step away, tell your dog to sit, and then give a treat once they do so.
- Step 3 – Tell your dog to sit a little bit farther away before you approach the door. Give the treat once they sit.
- Step 4 – Approach the door again. This time, give the command for your dog to sit when they move away from the door, then provide the treat.
- Step 5 – Go to the door from a different area from your home. Give the verbal cue (“hush,” “wait,” “just a minute,” or whatever other phrase works the best), and tell your dog to sit. Move the doorknob a little bit and see if the dog stays. If they do, toss a treat. If they bark or move toward the door, repeat the cue, and tell them to sit. Give the treat when they sit and then repeat.
- Step 6 – Repeat the previous steps, but open the door this time. Again, provide the treat when your dog sits.
- Step 7 – Ask someone to go to the other side of the door and ring the doorbell. Give the cue, tell your dog to sit, and then give the reward when they do.
- Step 8 – Keep repeating all the steps until your dog exhibits the proper behavior when the doorbell rings.9
The “Quiet” Method
Here’s something to try that could help you keep your dog quiet, whether you want them to stop barking at the doorbell or for any other reason.
- Step 1 – If your dog is barking, keep some treats in your hand and say the word “quiet,” or use some other verbal cue, in a cheerful voice. If the dog is quiet – even for a moment – give a treat.
- Step 2 – If the dog continues to bark, put some treats in your hand and close it into a fist. Keep the hand with the treats in front of your pet’s nose. Once they smell it and stop barking, award the treat. Give your dog a lot of praise as well.
- Step 3 – If the dog stays quiet, give another treat. If they start to bark, repeat the first two steps.
- Step 4 – As the dog’s behavior gets to where you want it to be, try to lengthen out the time they stay quiet. If they do so for three seconds, give a treat. Then try to extend the duration of staying quiet to five seconds if possible.
- Step 5 – Once the dog associates being quiet with a reward, you can start to fade out treats. Give praise or play with a toy instead.10
Should You Use A Bark Collar?
When dogs bark excessively, their owners will often turn to the first thing they see online in order to try and stop this frustrating behavior. In some cases, a pet parent may choose to buy something known as a bark collar. Some bark collars emit a noise that’s painful to the dog’s ears. Some produce an unpleasant scent. Some even deliver a mild electric shock that, in some instances, can burn a dog’s skin.11
Please don’t try this option. Punishment is never a good form of dog training. A bark collar is a form of punishment. It doesn’t differentiate between nuisance barking or happy, appropriate barking. The dog doesn’t understand why they’re being punished. In many cases, they eventually revert to barking anyway.12
You can minimize your dog’s barking without having to resort to a bark collar or any other form of punishment. With a lot of patience, and a lot of love, you can successfully overcome this annoying issue.
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