By Carol Besler-Snell on 05/13/2014
How to Get Your Dog to Stop Barking Out the Window or at the Doorbell
This is one of the most often-asked questions by dog owners. As much as we love our dogs, they can frustrate us with some of their loud or obnoxious behaviors. Barking at things outside can become a natural behavior for our dogs as they seek out a “job” as protector of the household. When they bark, they are alerting us to what they perceive as potential dangers. However, the person walking by or the rabbit in the bush is not something we always want or need to know about. So how do we stop it? Here are a few tips:
- First, realize that there is no magic thing you can do to stop it immediately. If your dog has had months or years to practice this behavior, it could take weeks or months on your part to change it. What we want to do is “prevent rehearsal”—quit giving them the chance to rehearse the same activity every time they see something moving outside the house. How? That leads us to our second tip.
- You have to respond to the behavior EVERY TIME. That means, generally, you need to get up out of your chair and “correct” him. Again, the question is HOW? First, don’t yell! Lots of dogs interpret your yelling as you barking along with them! So instead, in a calm voice, tell your dog “Thank you” and “I have it under control.” Repeating these command words will start to make sense to your dog in time. If your dog continues to bark, use a sharp guttural tone from your voice: “AH-AH-AH.” As soon as the dog is quiet, softly say “Good Quiet.” Another bark gets an “AH-AH-AH,” and another moment of quiet gets a “Good Quiet.” Repetition will teach your dog to understand. It’s important you stay calm through this process so your dog learns to calm down.
- Next take your dog away from the window and put him in a “sit restraint.” In this position, your dog will sit between your legs with his back to you while you rub on his muzzle and say “Settle.” Only when your dog has calmed down should you release him with an “OK.” It’s a great idea to walk to the treat container together after this and reward your dog with a treat for doing such a good job.
- What to do if he runs back to the window and barks again? Get up and repeat the whole process. Remember, your dog did not learn this behavior in one day, and you won’t solve it with one training session. If you really put in the effort to “prevent rehearsal” and show your dog how to rehearse appropriate behavior, you will start to see results. It’s all part of teaching your dog what limits you are setting in your household. Doing this in a nice, calm way can be a great bonding experience.
Barking at the doorbell: A doorbell or knock on the door can really rile up a dog because they again feel they are “doing their job” by alerting you that an intruder is there. To “prevent rehearsal” of this behavior, follow the steps above, thanking your dog and letting him know you have it under control. (Use AH-AH-AH and Good Quiet.) Then put your dog on a leash and give the Sit command before you open the door. Don’t let your dog jump on the visitor (use the Off command). Only allow visitors to pet your dog when he is in a Sit. Keep your dog on leash for 10 minutes and then release him (give a treat to reward and distract). Most dogs calm down pretty quickly after the visitor comes in and the dog realizes he is not a threat. Using a leash during this interaction is vital because it becomes a tool you can use to control your dog when your attention is averted to your visitor.
Other ideas for stopping barking include putting up blinds or moving furniture so your dog can’t see out the main traffic areas. This is where we as humans can be “solution minded”—thinking of changes that we ourselves can make that will help with training issues.
Got some great ideas on stopping barking in the house? We would love to hear them! Please write your comment below.
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What do you do when other uneducated dog owners let their dogs come right up to your apartment window & your dog goes ape sh*t! I can’t tell you how many other owners let their dogs approach our window, then my dog goes into attack mode at the other dog & their owners get mad at my dog! I know my dog is just protecting her property but it’s really the other dog owner that’s at fault.
I am with everyone else. We have 3 dogs and when 1 barks the others follow. It seems like they bark at the littlest sounds or nothing at all. We are going to try the non barking spray and or the stress calming collars. I am hoping that one of those work. It is very hard not to yell at them. But, after reading it does make sense that to them I am just barking also.
So, my dog (9 year old shorkie) barks any time someone walks along the sidewalk or she hears a delivery truck. Before I read this article, I have trained her to stop barking when I say “leave it” and then she comes to get a treat. But now she thinks she is getting a treat for barking and not for the “leave it”. This has kind of backfired and I’m not sure how to make her get that I don’t want her to bark at all!! Any suggestions?
I mean I know I get louder and grow more frustrated when I m trying to say something important and everyone s just ignoring me. It s nice to have someone listen and say OK, thank you ma am every once in a while. is an important step to stopping it. This method words well for alert barking because our dogs are often trying to let us know what s going on, and it s a way to acknowledge their concern. It s letting them know that everything is OK, there are no security breaches that need addressing at this time.
Gosh !! I wish my neighbor would read this!! Their dog barks viciously at most things walking by even if the door is open. What do my neighbors do? REINFORCE THE BEHAVIOR..I don’t get how they don’t see that the dog has trained itslef to act like this and IT CABN BE CORRECTED
I’m really hoping this helps we got our dog from a shelter dog was left outside most the time and acts like a guard dog barks at everything out the window for hours it’s sooooooon frustrating if someone comes to the door and I step outside to talk to them he ramsacks the door over and over trying to protect I guess and while we should be sleeping at night he stays up and keeps us all up oh do I pray this works I live this dog he is out family but my kids aren’t sleeping for school and even when I try he continues or goes right back I wish I could afford to higher someone that trains dogs
Wouldn’t the dog learn that if he barks out the window, he will do this routine and get a treat considering it starts with a bark.
.Just an FYI. It’s 5 years since this was written. I am having SPECTACULAR results with a 20-month old labradoodle(!) The key is to do it the NANO-SECOND the barking starts and consistently. When we are finished for the day, I will draw the curtains so she cannot see outside.
As per the lesson here… match with consistent message like “THANK YOU. House-safe. House-safe. House-safe,” but I also placed her inside the bedroom and closed the door for 3 minutes. For her disposition, this worked! She calmed down.She was not agitated nor barking to “let me outta here.” All was C-A-L-M.
I opened the door. She sweetly walked out. Went into our living area. “Sit” common. Lots of petting and rubs! She totally is “getting” it!!!