Why Do Dogs Bark When the Doorbell Rings?

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You always know when someone comes to the door. Sometimes before that bell even rings, Rocco is already standing there barking up a storm. You might find the behavior annoying, but Rocco thinks he's helping you out by letting you know about the approaching stranger.


Think of your initial reaction when you hear the doorbell: you drop what you're doing and run to the door. When you open the door, it's your neighbor bringing you a pie. You get excited and give her a hug, and she's even kind enough to bend down and pat Rocco's head. Rocco starts to learn that every time someone comes to the door, it's time to get excited because he gets attention from someone new.



Your canine loves his home and everything about it. When that doorbell rings, surely someone is coming in to disrupt his serene environment. Rocco's barking is simply a signal to let the intruder know that this is his turf. If he feels his territory is being threatened, he'll stand up, hold his tail high and perch his ears forward while he's barking, the Humane Society of the United States explains. Canines who feel threatened may bite, so don't allow your guests to pet Rocco if he's displaying threatening behavior.



Maybe Rocco is a bit timid and loud noises frighten him. He's blissfully drifting away, dreaming of finally catching that squirrel, when suddenly the doorbell rings and everyone in the house races to open it. If Rocco is fearful when the doorbell goes off, he'll press his ears back towards his head. He may also wag his tail low to the ground or stick his tail between his legs.

Correcting the Behavior

Rather than yelling over his barking, reward Rocco for being quiet. Petting him while barking only encourages the behavior, making him more likely to do it every time the doorbell goes off. Teach him to sit and stay or put him on a leash before opening the door. Don't allow your guest to pet Rocco until he sits quietly. Avoid making eye contact and ignore him until the barking ceases. He'll soon figure out that silence and holding still gets him the affection he craves, not loud barking.


Other Tips

If Rocco's barking seems to stem from fear, you'll have to work with him to boost his confidence. Keep a jar of cookies by the door. When your neighbor comes over, have her offer Rocco a treat when he sits and stops barking. Eventually he'll learn that people who come to the door aren't mean and the doorbell is nothing to be afraid of.

by Melodie Anne Coffman



The Humane Society of the United States: Barking: Why Dogs Sound Off
Upper Valley Humane Society: Desensitizing Barking When the Door Bell Rings

About the Author
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.