Ding-Dong Woof! How to Stop Your Dog from Barking at the Door
If your dog barks at the mailman or even a falling leaf outside, she no doubt barks at the door every time she hears a knock or the doorbell rings. The upcoming holidays bring trick-or-treaters, Thanksgiving guests, and New Year’s Eve party-goers—and lots of barking.
Good news: You have time to work on breaking your pup’s noisy habit!
Why Do Dogs Bark at the Door?
There are two common reasons dogs bark at the door:
- They’re scared.
- They’re excited.
The right way for you to correct your dog’s behavior depends on her reason for barking, so first you have to recognize it.
A Scared Dog
If your pup is scared of a knock at the door or the doorbell, common signs are:
- Tucking her tail between her legs
- Ears down
- Lowering her head
It’s common for dogs to be afraid of the doorbell ring as it can be painful for sensitive ears, and sudden loud noises can be startling.
An Excited Dog
If your dog is excited, you might see her:
- Pacing in anticipation
- Full-body tail wagging
3 Ways to Stop Your Dog from Barking at the Door
There are several ways to go about stopping your dog from barking at the door. You can try one or a combination, but it’s important to remain consistent and not give up after a few attempts. Breaking her of her habit takes patience and persistence.
1. Ignore Her
While your first reaction when your dog barks may be to tell her to be quiet or yell at her for misbehaving, remain silent instead. Yelling can make your pup’s barking worse as it adds on to the noise she’s already responding to. Giving your dog any kind of attention could also encourage her behavior.
If silence is your tactic, act like she doesn’t exist when she starts barking. Don’t look at her, touch her, talk to her, or allow any other interaction to happen between her and you or anyone else. Only give your barking dog attention once she has quieted, or consider giving her a treat when she has completely stopped barking to encourage the silence.
2. Train Your Dog to Understand New Commands
Just like your pup learned “sit” and “stay,” two commands you may want to teach her are:
Start with speak. When your pup performs it correctly, give her a treat.
Once you’re confident she has learned “speak,” it’s time to start on the quiet command. Tell your dog to speak. When she does, say, “Quiet.” As soon as she stops “speaking” (making noise or barking), she’s earned a treat! Continue this process until she understands both commands as well as “sit” and “stay.”
3. Exercise Her
Dogs can tend to bark more if they are full of energy. Lots of exercise can keep their energy levels low at home and keep them from becoming bored. When your dog is tired, the doorbell or a stranger at the door may not seem as interesting as it once did.
Make sure you’re playing with and walking your dog enough. Do some research on her breed to understand if she needs more physical and/or mental exercise to stay happy and healthy.
Pro Tip: Training sessions don’t have to wait for someone random to come to your door. Ask friends or family members to help out! Have them ring the doorbell or knock on the door at different times of the day that you know about but your pup doesn’t. These give you the opportunity to practice her training.
Extra Help with a Barking Dog During the Holidays
During the holidays, like Halloween and Thanksgiving, traffic to your front door is likely to increase. This can be frustrating if your dog barks every time someone shows up. Even if she’s trained, this time of year can be overwhelming.
If your dog isn’t quite trained with the tricks above, consider doing these things to prepare for knocks at the door:
Set Up a Quiet Room
For Halloween in particular—when strangers come to your door one after the next—create a quiet room for your dog away from the front of the house. Set up her bed, crate, and a radio or TV—if she likes that low hum of noise.
Have Someone to Stay with Your Dog
While a quiet room can be great, some dogs may not take well to staying alone in a room all evening. You may want to have someone, like a dog sitter, stay in the room with them.
A dog that barks at the door is stressful for you and for the dog as well! Approaching your dog’s behavior with understanding and proper training can help her relax and learn to quiet down even when guests arrive. Starting as early as possible in your dog’s life and ahead of the holidays, in particular, can make everyone’s experience more relaxed.
If you recently brought home a new puppy or have a dog who has issues like separation anxiety or aggression that causes them to bark at the door, come see us for behavior counseling. Call 281-693-7387 to schedule an appointment!
The Team @ Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital
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