A dog who is settled into his home and feels comfortable there is probably going to bark at people who come to your door without any training from you. If your dog is the strong, silent type, though, or if you just want to make sure he takes his job as door alarm seriously, you can encourage him to bark when someone arrives at your home. Strengthen his natural instincts by letting him know what you expect and he’ll be a reliable warning system for you while discouraging potential intruders.
Praise your dog when he barks at unexpected noises, especially if it’s someone knocking on your door or ringing the bell. If you don’t get many visitors, enlist the help of a friend to play the part of a visitor.
Make a big deal out of checking the situation when your dog reacts to someone at the door. Speak to him, using phrases such as “What is it?” and encourage him to go with you to see who’s there. Let him know he’s a good dog and you’re happy with him for barking.
Teach your dog to bark on command if he’s not barking on his own when someone come to the door. Hold small treats just out of his reach and use a command such as “speak” or “What is it?” When he makes even a tiny noise, reward him. Also use the command “quiet” or “enough” when you want him to stop barking, and praise him when he responds with silence.
Practice with your dog as often as possible, both encouraging him to bark when someone comes to the door and to stop when you tell him to. Be consistent so that he understands you want him to bark every time someone is at the door, and never scold him for barking at someone even if you know who it is.
Never allow your dog to bark at people when he’s away from your home. If he’s well-socialized, he’ll understand that it’s OK for other people to be out and about, and that he’s only allowed to warn you about intruders when he’s on his home turf.
Control of your dog is essential. A barking dog can work himself into a frenzy, and he may think that it’s his job to rush up and confront or even bite the caller. Obedience training can help you get and maintain control of your dog. If he gets overly excited when someone comes to the door, put a leash on him and make him sit before you open the door.
Socialize your dog by taking him out of the house and exposing him to other people and animals and let him experience unfamiliar situations. Your goal is to let your dog know that new things don’t have to be scary or threatening. This will help to prevent your pooch from turning into a fear biter, which is a serious problem. Joining a puppy class or an obedience group is a good way to get started.
Items You Will Need
- Leash (optional)
- PetPlace.com: Raising a Normal Healthy Puppy
- How to Be Safe in an Unsafe World; Donald D. Gilbert
- Leerburg: Training the Non-Biting Dog to Bark at the Door
- PetPlace.com: Teaching Your Dog to Speak
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images