Barking when people arrive is an easy behaviour to encourage a dog to do early on in its life, but one that eventually becomes a problem and difficult to stop. It is alerting others to the presence of a stranger, for most dogs this is a perfectly acceptable behaviour. Unfortunately, the barking at the sound of the doorbell is almost always reinforced by the human going to the door, “Ah, I told you there was someone there!” It doesn’t take many times for this to happen for it to become a learnt behavioural response. Shouting at a dog, “BE QUIET” encourages the dog to carry on, so before you try to get your dog to be quiet, you need to learn to be calm and silent when dealing with your dog in this situation.
Reward your dog for stopping.
Have a helper ring the doorbell/door knocker, this is the trigger, this will elicit a bark from your dog, then stop the trigger, wait for your dog to stop, then say, “Thank you, quiet”, calmly, use a super treat to lure your dog away from the door, putting distance between the door and you and your dog. It is essential that you do not give the treat when your dog is barking, or in order to get your dog to stop barking, this will result in your dog being rewarded for barking and not for being quiet.
• Once your dog has stopped barking, “thank you, quiet”.
• Your dog learns that it is acceptable to bark a few times, but not continuously.
• It realises that it is allowed to bark a few times, but if it is quiet it gets reward, but must move away from the door to achieve it.
• Gradually increase the time that your dog has to be quiet before you give the treat.
Long term, you introduce the “thank you, quiet” command when the trigger is active. It takes a huge amount of practice and consistency from you before you reach this stage. Do not rush any of this process, it takes time and patience.