If your dog has been barking at the door a lot, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do to get it to stop.
So, why does my dog bark at the door? Possible reasons why your dog barks at the door are that it hears someone outside, it is being protective, it has learned that the behavior is rewarded or it is excited because someone it knows is at the door.
Since there are a number of possible causes, it would help to consider what would make each of them more likely. Once you have a good idea of the main cause, it should become a lot easier to get your dog to stop doing it.
Reasons why your dog barks at the door
Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been barking at the door and what would make each of them more likely to be the main reason.
It hears someone outside
The cause could be that it hears someone at the door that it does not know. In this case, it is likely that your dog is barking to let you know that there is someone at the door and to warn off potential intruders.
It could also be the case that it thinks there is a threat. This would be more likely if your dog shows threatening body language by doing things such as curling its nose and showing its teeth. In this case, positive reinforcement training and desensitization training should help as mentioned below.
Encouraging the behavior
The cause could also be that it has learned that barking at the door results in it getting rewards. If you tend to give it things such as toys, treats or extra attention, when it barks at the door, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards. Instead, it would help to reward your dog when it does not bark at the door and to avoid rewarding it, when it does bark at the door, until it calms down.
The cause might also be that it is excited. This would be more likely if it tends to bark at the door when someone it knows is at the door and if it shows positive body language such as by wagging its tail and having its tongue out.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.
What else happened when it first started doing it
If your dog did not always bark at the door, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it. If it started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as learning that the behavior gets rewarded.
The body language it shows
It would also help to consider the body language it shows when it barks at the door. If it shows signs of excitement by doing things such as wagging its tail and having its tongue out, it would be more likely that it is excited or doing it for attention. Whereas, if it does things such as snarl and show its teeth, it would be more likely that it is being protective.
What is different when your dog does not bark at the door
If it does not always bark at the door, it would also help to consider what is different when it does not bark at the door. For example, if it only does it when you are at the door, it would be more likely that it does it due to excitement.
What to do about your dog barking at the door
Below are some options you have when getting your dog to stop barking at the door.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
As mentioned above, it might be the case that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. Instead, it would help to reward it when it does not bark at the door and to avoid giving it rewards when it does bark at the door.
Positive reinforcement training
Positive reinforcement training is where you encourage your dog to behave in a certain way by rewarding it when it shows signs of behaving that way.
To use it to get your dog to stop barking at the door you could:
- Get someone to stand at the door and get your dog to focus on you and reward it when it stops barking
- Get the person to gradually start pressing the bell or knocking on the door and continue getting your dog to focus on you rewarding it whenever it stops barking with a treat