Why Do Dogs Bark at Doorbells or Door Knocks?

Does your dog go crazy and bark furiously every time your doorbell rings or someone knocks on your door?

Does this annoy you, or are you just curious why they behave like this?

In this post, I will explain why dogs bark at doorbells. Then I will give you some tips to help you train them out of this behavior.

Why Do Dogs Bark When the Doorbell Rings?

Dogs bark when doorbells ring or someone knocks at the door because they are either afraid of a threat coming into the home or are excited about someone arriving.

You can tell the difference by seeing if they appear aggressive or happy as this behavior occurs.

Within those two variations, there are some different reasons why they might feel scared or excited.

  1. They are alerting you to a threat.
  2. To scare off a potential threat.
  3. They are excited to get a visitor.
  4. Your dog has learned it gets attention when it barks at the doorbell.
  5. It’s a break from the usual routine, and they get curious.

If you have a problem with your dog doing this, it can be helpful to pinpoint why they do it to train them not to do it.

1. They are Alerting You to a Threat

Why do dogs bark at the doorbellThe most obvious and important reason for a dog barking when the doorbell is rung, or someone knocks at the door is that they perceive the person as a potential threat.

Dogs are pack animals. You are part of their pack. By barking, they are letting you know there is a threat and that you need to be aware of it.

You should be able to tell if this is why your dog will seem a bit nervous and uptight, and the barking will be loud and constant.

2. To Scare off a Potential Threat

Many dogs have an innate guarding instinct and use barking, growling, and even physical aggression to ward off perceived threats.

If your dog seems very aggressive when they bark at the doorbell, it is probably the case that they are in guard dog mode.

3. They Are Excited to Get a Visitor

Some dogs bark when they are excited, and new people visiting the house are often very exciting for a dog.

(The fact that dogs get so excited about such little things is endearing about them).

You can tell if they are barking due to excitement as they will be moving around a lot, whimpering, and jumping up and down.

4. Your Dog Has Learned it Gets Attention When it Barks at the Doorbell

Dogs are clever, and they also love attention from their owners.

Sometimes we can inadvertently train a dog to behave a certain way without realizing it.

So it might be that your dog barked or reacted somehow when the doorbell rang, you gave them lots of attention, so they did it again the next time someone visited.

This one can be hard to spot, but don’t worry. Next, I have some great training techniques to help you train them out of this behavior.

5. It’s a Break from the Normal Routine and They get Curious

Dogs love a steady routine, but they also enjoy having that routine broken up by new things to get excited about.

It could just be that your dog gets excited about the doorbell ringing because it’s just a break from their routine.

Before we continue, here is a quick video from a professional dog trainer explaining why your dog may bark at the doorbell sound.

Just click to start watching:

 

Note – You might also enjoy this post looking at the question – why do dogs get excited when their owners come home?

How to Train Your Dog Not to Bark at Doorbells or Door Knocks

Before I explain the training steps, here are some good things to always bear in mind when training any dog to do (or not do) anything:

  • Never shout at or hit your dog. It’s not fair and doesn’t work.
  • Consistency is essential. If you can repeat the training every time, it will be much more effective.
  • Replacing an unwanted behavior with a more desired one can be effective.
  • Positive reinforcement through treats and praise is the absolute key to your success.

Ok, now let’s look at a step-by-step process for training your dog not to bark at the doorbell.

  1. Use familiarity training to reduce their reaction to doorbells.
  2. Use replacement training to replace barking with a preferred behavior.
  3. Repeat the replacement training until the desired behavior is habituated.
  4. Continue to reward the desired behavior.

1. Use Familiarity Training to Reduce their Reaction to Doorbells or Knocks

The first thing you need to do is take the excitement out of their reaction to the doorbell.

Find something they love that is slow to eat, such as a spoon with some peanut butter.

Let them start licking it and then ring the doorbell. You can use a doorbell sound from YouTube to make this easier.

If they ignore the doorbell, praise them and let them finish their treat.

If they bark at the doorbell, ignore them until they calm down, bring them back to their treat, and try again.

As you repeat this step, they will become much less excited about hearing the doorbell and start associating it with a treat.

2. Use Replacement Training to Replace Barking with a Preferred Behaviour

The next step involves using your actual doorbell, so you will need someone to help you by standing outside and pressing it.

This step aims to replace reacting to the doorbell with another behavior.

For example, if you want them to go to their bed when the doorbell rings, you can use the training to encourage this.

Get your helper to ring the doorbell, then call your dog to their bed. When they come over, give them a treat and lots of praise.

You can use the phrase “get into your bed” to create a really useful cue at the same time.

3. Repeat the Replacement Training Until the Desired Behavior is Habituated

You will need to repeat this step a lot. Your goal is to get them to fully associate the doorbell ringing with them going to their bed.

So ideally, you would work on this for 5-10 minutes daily for a couple of weeks.

You will know when it has been successful. For example, you have succeeded if the doorbell randomly rings and your pooch heads straight for their bed.

4. Continue to Reward the Desired Behaviour

Especially at first, while the new behavior is fresh, you should never forget to praise and reward your dog for doing the desired action.

It can be too often to give up before you have really engrained the new associations in their brains, and old behaviors can quickly creep back.

So, ensure you keep up with it longer than you feel you need to.

Final Thoughts on Why Dogs Bark When the Doorbell Rings?

Dogs bark at doorbells or door knocks because they are either scared of a perceived threat or excited to say hello to the person visiting your home.

If you want to stop this behavior, you can use familiarization and replacement training to get your dog to react differently to the doorbell. Still, it will take time, effort, and consistency.

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