Author: Diane R Mitchell
Originally Published in GPSSC Der Schnurrbart Summer 2009
Does your standard schnauzer go nuts when the door bell rings? Do you have a hard time opening the door to talk to who ever is on the other side? It is true in this day and age, we want our dogs to alert us when someone is at the door, but do we really want them to stay in barking mode when we open the door and are trying to talk to the folks? I for one don’t and I don’t put up with it in my house. So, you ask, how can you stop this in yours?
Start by setting your dog up. Recruit some help of friends or family members that the dog usually barks at when they approach the house or come in the door. Once you have help, get a bunch of great tasting small treats. Cut up chicken or hot dog work well and the chicken, if cooked properly make a healthy snack for the dog.
Now, have your helper ring the doorbell while standing outside the door as if they were a new person walking up. Once your dog starts barking, tell them it is OK, or what ever word you use, and then dog sit back from the door. Wait until the dog stops barking and then give them a treat. You can use verbal commands to get them to stop barking if necessary.
Once you have gotten the dog to stop barking, have your helper ring the doorbell again and repeat the process. Only keep this up for about five to ten minutes at a time and then take at least an hour break.
Once the dog does not bark more than one time when the doorbell rings, you can move to actually opening the door. If the barking starts back up at any time, reset the situation and start over. The dog will eventually get the idea that the only way they can see the stranger is if they are quiet. It make take a couple of days of practice before the dog gets the idea, but it can and will happen if you are willing to work through to the end.
My dogs no longer bark at birds, squirrels, or ground hogs in my front yard. They just get very tense, but other than the first alert bark, they know they are not allowed to go crazy after the critters in the front of the house. Now the back yard is another issue. Since I am not usually out there, they are free to bark as much as they want, but when “Mommy” comes outside, the barking had better stop! It always does! I can now have a conversation with delivery people without having to apologize for the dog’s noise. They still bark when the people move away or try to get out of their vehicles, but I have deemed that acceptable and the dogs know that. So, it is possible to train your dog not to bark at something, it just takes time and effort.