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27th July 2018

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Why does my dog bark at the doorbell

Nothing can shatter peaceful lounging more than the sudden shrill of loud barking when the doorbell rings. To many owners irritation, it can often take several minutes before their dog calms down.

Most dogs find the doorbell ringing a huge stimulus and although shouting at them sometimes stops that instance of barking, it does not get to the underlying problem that triggers it in the first place. The best way to approach this problem is to teach your dog an alternative response to the doorbell ringing.

One way is through a process called “flooding”. Your dog is of course barking because past experience of the bell ringing has always meant that someone has or is entering your territory. The flooding technique involves ringing the doorbell over and over at irregular intervals. The important part of this is that there should be nobody new for the dog to bark at and they slowly come to realise that the doorbell ringing does not mean that someone has arrived.

You can also include a bit of “classical conditioning” to this technique. The term classical conditioning is about training dogs to associate certain sounds with certain events. A good example is in clicker training where the sound of the clicker means that a reward is imminent. We want to achieve something similar to this with the doorbell sound, except your dog will not be expected to do something before he gets treat.

In the early stage of this training, some may think that your dog is being rewarded for barking. This is not the case and over time the barking will subside as your dog associates the doorbell with getting a treat or something else special.