Preventing Barking At The Doorbell: Training Techniques For Quiet Behavior

Why Dogs Bark at the Door

using treats to train dogs not to bark

Dogs naturally have a strong territorial instinct to protect their home and family. When the doorbell rings, it triggers this instinct and they begin barking to alert and alarm their owners that someone is approaching the door. This barking serves as both a warning and a deterrent to make the stranger away.

Many dogs also bark at the doorbell simply because they have learned through experience that the sound means someone new and exciting is arriving. They associate the doorbell with attention, new people to play with and greet. Their eager excitement manifests in barking.

Dogs are incredibly attuned to patterns. If every time the doorbell rings, the owners drop what they are doing and rush to the door, the dog learns barking successfully summons the owners’ immediate attention. They may bark demandingly seeking this response.

Finally, some dogs bark out of fear or apprehension over who is behind the door. The unknown visitor triggers their insecurity, so they bark defensively in response. Their barking reflects an attempt to scare the stranger away due to anxiety.

Understanding the Motivation

There are several potential reasons why dogs bark when the doorbell rings:

Fear or anxiety – The loud and sudden sound of a doorbell can startle some dogs, especially those who are naturally fearful or anxious. This leads them to bark as an alarm response. Fearful breeds like Chihuahuas tend to be more prone to this behavior.

Excitement – Many dogs learn to associate the doorbell with the impending arrival of a visitor. They get excited and bark to greet the newcomer. High-energy breeds like Labradors are more likely to bark this way.

Boredom – Dogs left alone all day with minimal stimulation can bark at the doorbell simply for something to do. Boredom barking is common in intelligent, energetic breeds like Border Collies when under-exercised.

Attention-seeking – Some dogs will bark for attention if they feel their needs aren’t being met. The doorbell barking prompts the owner to interact with them. Vocal hounds like Beagles are prone to demanding attention.

Territoriality – Barking can be a territorial display to ward off perceived threats from intruders. Guarding breeds like German Shepherds tend to be more territorial and vocal.

By understanding your dog’s specific motivations, you can tailor training methods accordingly for best results.

Training Basics

The foundation of any successful dog training program is using positive reinforcement techniques. This means rewarding your dog with treats, praise, or play when they demonstrate the desired behavior. It’s important to remain calm and patient during training sessions. Trying to teach a dog when you’re feeling frustrated will likely be ineffective.

training dogs using positive reinforcement

Aim for short, frequent training sessions of 5-10 minutes. Dogs have short attention spans, so keeping things brief but doing many reps will help the lessons stick. Always end on a positive note with your dog succeeding at the task. Be sure to provide hearty rewards and praise when your dog does what you ask.

According to dog training experts, using positive reinforcement strategies will help adjust your dog’s reactions over time if applied consistently (Source: Having realistic expectations about the time it takes to change behavior is also key. Don’t expect miracles overnight.

Desensitize to Doorbell

Desensitizing your dog to the doorbell is a very important step to prevent barking. When they hear the doorbell, immediately reward them with treats and praise for being quiet. Start out with just one ring at low volume and work up to normal loud rings over multiple training sessions. You can use recordings of doorbells to practice this when you don’t have someone to ring the actual doorbell. Enable the “bark limiter” setting on smart doorbells to prevent excessive barking triggers. With time and consistency, your dog will learn that doorbells are not something to bark at, but instead mean rewards are coming!


How to Stop Your Dog from Barking at the Doorbell

Redirect Attention

One effective method for quieting barking behavior is to redirect your dog’s attention when the doorbell rings. The goal is to teach your dog to focus on a different behavior that is incompatible with barking.

redirecting dog's attention away from barking

Have treats or a favorite toy ready when the doorbell rings. As soon as your dog starts barking, get their attention by calling their name and showing them the treat or toy. Encourage them to come sit near you or engage in play. Praise and reward with the treat or toy when they redirect their focus towards you and away from the door. This teaches your dog that good things happen when they choose not to bark at the doorbell.

With enough repetition and positive reinforcement, your dog will learn to look to you for treats and attention when the doorbell rings instead of running to the door barking. Be sure to reward the good behavior and ignore the barking. Consistency is key in training an alternate behavior to replace the unwanted barking response.

According to the AKC, distraction and redirection give your dog something positive to focus on so they no longer feel the need to bark at the door.

Crate Training

Crate training can be an effective way to reduce barking when the doorbell rings because it provides dogs with a safe space of their own. Dogs naturally seek out dens for security and confinement, so a crate gives them a place to retreat to when they feel uncertain or overstimulated by a visitor at the door (source). The crate helps reduce barking by making the dog feel secure and giving them an alternative behavior instead of reacting to the door.

To utilize crate training for doorbell barking, put the dog in the crate before the guest is scheduled to arrive. Provide a favorite toy or chew treat to occupy them. Keep sessions brief at first so the dog doesn’t get distressed. With enough positive conditioning, the dog will learn to associate the crate with safety and relaxation when the doorbell sounds.


Ensuring your dog gets adequate physical and mental exercise can help curb excessive barking as a tired dog barks less. Take your dog for longer walks and engage in active play like fetching or tug-of-war before guests are expected to arrive. This can help your dog release pent-up energy and they may be calmer when the doorbell rings later on.

According to the AKC, “Regular exercise and playtime are very important for preventing nuisance barking.”1 Tiring your dog out ahead of time can make them less likely to bark out of excitement or boredom when someone is at the door. Try to take your dog on an extended walk or have a long play session right before you’re expecting guests.


For the best results when training your dog to stop barking at the doorbell, it’s important that everyone in the household uses the same techniques and responds the same way each time the dog barks. As the ASPCA notes, “Everyone in your family must apply the training methods every time your dog barks at the doorbell” (source). If some family members ignore the barking or don’t follow the training protocols, the dog will get confused and the training will suffer.

being consistent when training dogs

Likewise, you must respond the same way each and every time the dog barks at the doorbell. As certified dog trainer Tom Davis emphasizes, “No matter how many times your dog barks at the doorbell on any given day, use the same approach every single time. Consistency is key” (source). If you respond differently depending on your mood or how many times they’ve barked that day, your dog will be confused as to what behavior is acceptable.

Sticking to consistent training and responses from the entire household will set your dog up for success in learning to be quiet when the doorbell rings.

Professional Help

Sometimes issues with barking are too difficult to handle on your own. In these cases, it can be beneficial to seek help from a professional dog trainer who specializes in behavioral issues. According to The Humane Society, contacting a certified professional dog trainer is recommended if you are unable to curb excessive barking on your own.

Professional trainers have extensive experience and expertise in dog behavior and training. They can observe your dog’s specific triggers and determine the underlying motivation for the barking. Trainers can also identify other issues that may be contributing to the barking, such as separation anxiety.

Additionally, professional trainers can customize training plans specifically for your dog and situation. They can provide hands-on guidance, troubleshooting and support throughout the training process. Investing in private training sessions or boarding your dog at a training facility can help reinforce training and expedite results.

Working with a knowledgeable trainer gives you the best chance of permanently resolving your dog’s barking issues. Though private training can be an investment, it is often well worth it for regaining peace and quiet at home.

Have Patience

Change takes time and consistency when training a dog to stop barking at the doorbell. It’s important to stick with the training techniques and not expect overnight results.

Dogs thrive on routine and can be slow to pick up new behaviors. Remain patient and persistent, working on training a few minutes each day. With continued positive reinforcement, most dogs will learn to control barking with patience and practice.

Don’t get frustrated or punish your dog during training. This can increase anxiety and barking. If you get inconsistent results, go back to basics and simplify the techniques. Work up slowly in distraction levels.

According to, “It takes most dogs between 15 to 30 training sessions of 15-20 minutes” to reliably learn a new behavior[1]. So plan on a training commitment of several weeks.

With time, your dog will make the connection between “quiet” and treats versus barking and no rewards. Just remain positive and patient through the process.

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