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Barks when anyone comes to door

How do I stop our dog from running to the door barking wildly when anyone, even someone from our household comes to the door?
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984446 tn?1263311374

You do not say whether your dog's greeting behavior is friendly or not, but since you do not indicate any aggression and state that he also shows this behavior with familiar people, I am going to assume that this is just excitable behavior that you wish to control and that there is no aggression involved.

You can work with this behavior in one of two ways, both of which use a technique called "response substitution" or "training an incompatible and alternate behavior".  Most of our clients simply wish for their dog to be mannerly, not jump up and not bark at the door, and so teach a sit for greeting at the door. Another approach is to train your dog to go to a designated spot, usually a dog bed, whenever the doorbell rings.

The very first step is to teach your dog basic obedience commands of sit, stay, come, and if you are using the "go to your spot" approach, target training. It is beyond the scope of this forum to give you those instructions.  So, if you have not already done so, enroll in a reputable obedience class that uses primarily positive reinforcement and does not rely upon confrontational or coercive methods.

Once your dog reliably responds to these commands, you begin by teaching him to sit/stay for treats near the door, or to go to his bed from the door.  You then separately introduce the doorbell as a stimulus (cue) for sitting.  Someone rings the bell, you are right by the door with the dog, request a sit/stay immediately, and reinforce. (If you dog is so excitable that this is not possible, you will need to have a behavior consultant come to your home to help you with the timing and application of this).  Your goal is for your dog to associate the noise of the bell ringing with an opportunity to sit, recieve treats, AND receive attention. The reason that friendly dogs rush doors and bark is that the doorbell and someone entering has reliably predicted opportunities for meeting visitors and getting attention, so this is a very powerful reinforcement history and is difficult to modify.  Your goal should be to teach your dog that someone coming in still will be lots of fun, but only if he controls his behavior by sitting for greeting and reducing his barking.

Again, if your dog is so excitable that training an alternate response is very difficult, or if he is showing any aggression to visitors, you should find a local trainer or behaviorist to come to your home to help you with this training.

I hope this is helpful to you -


Linda Case
AutumnGold Consulting and Dog Training Center  
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