Ask a Trainer: Dog barking at doorbell

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Here’s a question from our Ask a Dog Trainer section.

Our dog loses it (barking) whenever someone rings the doorbell. Are there any training tips or commands to calm her down in these moments?”

  • Doorbell“First, condition your dogs response so (s)he knows that the doorbell means that something good will happen! Ring the doorbell and give her a piece of chicken (even if she reacts). Repeat for 3 minutes. Break. Repeat again. The point is to make the association that doorbell = chicken. Once (s)he gets it ((s)he will begin to look at you for chicken instead of barking), ask for a “sit” or a “down” after you ring the doorbell and before you treat her. (Doorbell -> Sit -> Chicken!) Soon she will automatically sit when she hears the doorbell, instead of barking. When this is consistent, you don’t need to treat her every time she sits when the doorbell rings, just every so often. (Lauren Wojcik – owner/trainer, Laurens Leash,, 917-261-1128)
  • depending on how often someone rings the bell you can desensitize the dog to bell or even make the bell a signal for the dog to run to a mat or crate and go into down….depending how much time one wants to invest.” (Elisabeth Weiss, DogRelations,
  • I love the “go to your bed” command for this. It acknowledges to the dog that you heard their “alert”, gives them an assignment (they’re barking in order to serve you, by alerting you), and puts them in a comfortable, safe, and relaxing space. “Go to your bed” must INCLUDE not only going but also lying down, relaxing, and staying until verbally released (“OK!”). After as long a pause as possible (longer and longer as you practice), release your dog from their bed, so that as a reward they get to jump up and go sniff the visitor and get pet (either up to the door to sniff the delivery guy, or after your friend comes in and sits on the couch).” (Anthony Newman, Calm Energy Dog Training,,, (646) 942-1979)
  • Obsessive barking is a very difficult behavior to control because it is so self reinforcing. Lots of dogs like to hear themselves bark. The only way to control barking is to teach a “quiet” command and have an effective way to reinforce it. Avoid using food reinforcement with barking because even with perfect timing, it is easy to mistakenly reinforce the barking! Read more at: Mary Travers-Smith,  Superpaws Dog Training,,, 212-781-7197)
  • Yes, unfortunately most people think the training is directed at the actual “barking” although the reason for the training is to calm the barking, you do not correct or address the barking head on, as a matter of fact, we try to divert the dog to something else.   For instance, we change the meaning of the sound of a door bell rining, by doing that, we change the reactions of all persons around, thereby changing the dogs’ reaction as well.” (James Colella Dedicated Dog Training (888) 370-7477

1 comment to Ask a Trainer: Dog barking at doorbell

  • Shelby

    I like using the Touch, Go to your place command for doorbell barking. Often times there is too much stress/commotion doing on with doorbell barking and asking a dog to sit or lay down is too difficult. Giving your dog the job of checking in with you and then heading elsewhere ( rather than to the door) is most effective. Then a bully stick or Kong when they get to their bed will help keep them there as the guest comes inside. It is important to make sure you get to the root of the issue with barking at the door. Is your dog stressed? Are they excited? You can’t fix the barking if you are unsure of WHY they are barking. Contact: Shelby Semel Dog Training