Dogs bark, they react and make decisions based on what they know and how they feel. The difference between one dog’s reactivity vs another however, is the intensity of what they do.
Let’s take a quick look into why your dog is reacting to your door a lot and what you can do.
Dogs don’t learn through the use of words and explanations like we do, unfortunately. They instead learn by association. This means that if you take your dog to the vet only twice a year for example, and something hurtful happens, chances are your dog won’t want to go back, and who would?
The same logic applies to the ritual that takes place when your doorbell rings. Barring any pent up energy and frustration (as we often mention, dogs that aren’t properly physically and mentally stimulated will find outlets to their energy on their own), the reason your dog barks intensively when the doorbell goes off is because your doorbell goes when something exciting is about to happen, based on past experiences of his.
This is why it’s a good idea to not wait until people visit to practice desensitizing your dog to the sound of your doorbell, or the overall ritual of the door opening.
What you will want to do on a daily basis is, once you have provided your dog with some physical and mental challenges, is to recondition the brain to have it associate the sound of the doorbell with calmness, not excitement. You do this by repeating the ritual of the doorbell, as well as the door opening and closing, without having anyone actually come in and no reaction on your end.
The first few times you will try this, you will find your dog will still react as he has been conditioned to, despite being tired. However the more you practice this at the right time, the more your dog will begin noticing that there’s nothing really exciting that happens after the door opens and thus will begin to decrease his level of reactivity.
That said, even after thoroughly practicing this, if and when people do come through the door, if what follows is a lot of excitement coming from your visitors, then it makes it a bit harder for a dog that is getting reconditioned to not react to this level of energy that is coming into your home, with his own.
This is why it’s always best for guests to visit without engaging with your dog at all, until he displays to everyone a more calm and relaxed behaviour that we will want to encourage and reinforce.