Soft Training

How can I Teach My Dog to Bark When Someone's at the Door?

Actually, it is very easier to encourage a dog to bark when someone comes to the door. It is much harder to break that habit.

It's in a dogs nature to bark when a stranger enters their territory and to bark to ward them off. Most dogs will bark when the door is knocked on or the door bell rung. However, if yours is the rare few (and honestly I envy you if yours is) that doesn't not bark when the someone knocks here is how I would recommend teaching her:

Teach her to speak on command:
Start with a hungry dog. It is ALWAYS best, when teaching or training a dog, that they be hungry. If they aren't, what's the use in doing what you want for a treat they don't really want at that moment? So have a hungry dog. Have many soft training treats or hotdogs or anything your dog REALLY likes. It needs to be something that he loves, because you are going to need to get him a little frustrated. Make them about the size of a pea.

Use the food or your dogs favorite toy (if he is toy driven). If you are not sure what really motivates your dog, experiment. Try different food treats and see what really gets his attention. Or if he likes toys, try different ones that excite him. Stand in front of the dog and get his attention, it's best to be in a very low distraction area (like a bedroom or quiet living room). The less distractions, the more you will have his attention. After you have his attention, reveal the previously hidden food or toy reward. Tease him a little, get him really interested in what you have. You may feel like you are acting a fool, but treat what you have like it was gold. You are SO happy about what you have. Don't allow him to take any of the food or play with the toy. You are building the value of what you have, which makes the dog want it that much more.

After he seems really interested in whatever you have decided to be the dogs reward, let him sniff at it or maybe get just a lick of the food. Then take it away, bring it close to your chest or put completely out of sight. During this speak to him in a "baby talk" kind of voice. Say things like, "Ooh! What is this? What do I have? Do you want it?" Things like that, you may have to even be a little mean (not cruel mean, but tease him like no other). Timing is everything now. You have to pay a lot of attention to how your dog is moving, behaving and the like. You will be able to see the frustration building. He'll be a little antsy, moving from paw to paw, he may try to walk around you to get a look at the reward or he may even try to jump up to get it (try to discourage that, maybe put him in a sit if he is familiar with the command), but take notice when the frustration becomes to much. When he becomes TOO frustrating or the dog thinks he has no hope of getting the reward, he will give up and move on. If this starts to happen, other things are getting his attention and not you and the reward, stop everything. You don't ever want your reward to be devalued. Give him a break, happily end the exercise. Come back either the next day or in twenty to thirty minutes. You may also need to consider the value of the reward to begin with, maybe next time try something else he really likes.

If your dog is not normally vocal, getting him to vocalize maybe difficult and take a while to achieve, but don't give up. However, if you are teasing him enough and the value is so high on the reward, he may make a small whining noise or some other small vocalization. Immediately reward any sound made by the dog. Even the smallest amount. Feed lots of treats (about one every second for thirty seconds) or play for five to ten minutes, praising him greatly. Set up the situation again. You may be forced to start teasing him again, however after being rewarded for the small vocalization he made the first time, he may be apt to try it again to see if that is what gets him the reward.

Steadily raise the stakes. Once you know that he understands, vocalization earns the reward, up the ante, make him fully bark. He's likely to offer the small whine that has been earning him the reward, ignore it. After offering the whine and not being rewarded, his mind will start to work over the problem. "Well she rewarded me for the whine before, what's wrong now?" He is then likely to start getting frustrated over this very fact and let out louder vocalization, he may even let out a small growl, until a full out bark is produced. Reward, reward, reward. Paramount. Double the duration of the reward from the one you used for the whine. Then he'll get it, if I bark, she gives it to me.

Once he's barking reliably at your teasing, introduce the speak command. Before producing his reward (food or toy), tell him in a clear, calm voice "Speak" and show him the reward right after. Several repetitions should have him associating the command "speak" with a bark. Practice the command while slowly fading the reward being in front of his face. Ask him to "speak" with the reward slightly

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