How to teach a Dachshund to stop barking at the front door
Guest blog post by Richard Cross, Editor of TheDogClinic.com
Dachshunds have many wonderful traits…but quietness often isn’t one of them! Many Dachshunds bark whenever there’s a noise at the front door, whether that’s due to the postman, a car, or even just a strong gust of wind.
While it’s difficult to completely stop a Dachshund barking at the front door, desensitization and counterconditioning training can help. Here’s an overview of the process.
Step 1: Minimise Your Dog’s Barking Triggers
Every time he barks at the door, your dog is reinforcing this behaviour. The first step is to minimise how often triggers occur, so you can start training without your hard work being undermined.
Start by making a list of barking triggers. This may include the doorbell, knocking, the postman, people on your driveway, and cars arriving – although your dog may not be sensitive to all of them.
Once you know what’s triggering the barking, you then need to take steps to minimise the chance of these triggers happening. Some methods might include:
· Installing an outdoor post box to avoid letters being posted directly into the house.
· Getting parcels delivered to collection boxes (such as Amazon’s Locker system) to reduce the number of people coming to the house.
· Replacing your doorbell with one that has a completely different sound.
· Asking guests to park a little way from the house and call before arriving, so you can let them in without knocking on the door.
· Sticking a sign for your front door asking people to ring you before knocking, due to a “Dog in Training.”
It’s also important to avoid scolding or otherwise punishing your dog when he barks. Punishment, whether verbal or physical, just causes your Dachshund to feel scared and more likely to bark next time – even if he stops barking in the moment.
Step 2: Desensitize Your Dog to “Easy” Versions of Triggers
The fastest way to teach your dog not to bark is to combine desensitization with counterconditioning.
Desensitization involves exposing your dog to a level of the trigger that doesn’t cause a response and then gradually increasing the intensity. This process works much faster with counterconditioning, which involves linking a positive reward (such as a treat) to the trigger.
Begin by picking a single trigger you want to work on. Let’s take “knocking at the door” as an example.
Find some tasty treats, then expose your dog to an “easy” version of the trigger. In this example, the easy version could be giving the door a gentle knock while he watches you. Whenever you knock on the inside of the door, give your dog a treat.
Repeat this process until your dog realises that a knock is a positive thing. Then gradually increase the difficulty by knocking louder, until he doesn’t react to a loud knock on the inside of the door.
The key to this process is to stay below your dog’s trigger intensity. If he starts barking or shows signs of stress, you’ve pushed too far and should reduce the knocking intensity next time. It’s also important to spread this training over multiple sessions.
Step 3: Create a Tougher Practice Environment
Once your pet is comfortable with the “easy” version of the trigger, you can use the same method but with more difficult triggers.
Continuing our door knocking example, get a friend or family member to knock lightly on the outside of the door while you give a treat.
This is a much harder task for your dog, so progress is likely to be slower. Whenever your friend knocks, give praise and a treat until your pet just looks at you when he hears the gentle knocking. Once this happens, you can start asking for louder knocks.
I recommend both having phones to hand, so you can quickly tell your training partner when to knock. At this stage, the person shouldn’t enter the home after knocking – you’re just desensitizing to the noise.
Step 4: Repeat for Other Triggers
By this stage, your dog should be able to hear the trigger without barking – but this is probably only part of the solution. You’ll need to repeat the process for any other triggers until your pet never reacts to noises at the door.
Once you’ve completed this training, you can start to allow people to enter the home after knocking or ringing the doorbell. This may be over-stimulating for your dog, so don’t be surprised if more training is required!
Dachshunds are notorious for their barking, but desensitization and counter-conditioning training can have a big effect on their reactivity. If your dog often barks at the front door, try using the method above to change negative triggers into a positive.
Richard Cross, Editor of TheDogClinic.com