An Easy Way to Stop Dogs From Barking at the Sound of the Doorbell

By: David Codr

Published Date: December 8, 2019

For this Los Angeles dog training session, we share the secret to stopping a dog from barking when the doorbell rings to help 2 year-old Pitbull mix Percy.

We spent the first part of the session going over creative ways to exercise Percy. Finding a place they can do the “doggy stair master” on a regular basic will do wonders. I also recommended they start feeding her through a snuffle matt or treat / food dispensing toys as these are both energy draining and stimulating to dogs. We also covered the importance of giving her time outs when playing (the instant she starts to get too excited) and how to set her up for success at dog parks.

Next I shared a number of tips to create a healthier leader follower dynamic. Some of this involved when to pet Percy and when to stop petting. By consistently stopping engaging when she offers unwanted behaviors, her guardians can use operant conditioning to help Percy learn what her humans want her to do and not do. I call this Passive training.

I also recommended the guardians start petting Percy with a purpose; asking for a sit or down before giving her attention unless she prepays in advance.
This will be important as Percy has developed a few behaviors where she offers growls or barks to complain when she isn’t getting what she wants. This is sometimes referred to as Demand Barking.

One of the behavior issues her guardians wanted to stop was barking when the doorbell rings. If you want to learn how to stop a dog from barking at the doorbell in the free positive dog training video below.

This was the first time I haven’t been able to achieve no barking when the doorbell rings on the actual video. Percy having too much energy was a big factor, but the key to this exercise is Percy can’t react when she hears the doorbell. To achieve this, we needed to reduce the intensity of the trigger sound by increasing the distance or muffling the sound.

After we filmed the video, we accomplished this with a sound effect of the doorbell from one of her human’s cell phones. But it will be more effective to record the actual doorbell sound on a phone instead. This will allow the guardians to precisely activate the actual sound and control its intensity by reducing he volume. The reduced fidelity of the recording will also make it easier for Percy to practice not barking when the doorbell rings.

Once Percy can listen to 5 doorbell rings from a phone recording at full volume without reacting (getting the treat after each ring sound), they can repeat the process with the actual doorbell with these steps.

  • Practice with a friend who can ring the doorbell outside the home without Percy knowing someone is there.
  • Start with the dog outside on the deck with the door closed and someone muffling the sound from the chime box (using tape, a pillow or other object to reduce the sound).
  • Once Percy can sit without barking for 5 door bell rings in a row without barking, start reducing the muffling of the doorbell while practicing.
  • Keep practicing until the doorbell can be rung 5 times in a row, with no muffling while Percy is outside and the door is closed.
  • Start opening the door to the deck – very progressively (only 1 inch at a time) until Percy can sit quietly with the door wide open as the doorbell rings.
  • Gradually move Percy closer to the door, stopping when she is on the edge of the carpet.

If Percy’s guardians want to, at this point they can drop a treat on the spot on the carpet, then ring the doorbell. With enough practice Percy will move to that spot when the doorbell sounds instead of barking.

It will be crucially important that Percy not bark at all for each step when her humans are practicing this. Basically we are practicing not barking at progressively increasing levels of intensity.

I also strongly recommend the guardians cover up the doorbell button and put a note on the door asking guests to knock only while they are practicing this secret to stopping a dog from barking at the doorbell. This way, the sound doesn’t happen at times that allow Percy to practice barking, with the added amplifier of a person at the door.

Because we needed to work on so many foundational things, we didnt get to many other exercises. I did show them a focus exercise, which will really help, but Id love to come back and work on her skateboard reactivity or have her guardians take my Loose Leash walking class.

I suggested the guardians work on what we covered today for the next month or two and then let me know if they want to stop her from pulling on the leash or address any remaining issues.

To make it easy to remember what we covered in this in home LA dog training session, we did a roadmap to success video.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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