Someone knocks at the front door and the dog starts barking. Even using words such as, “no” and “stop” don’t silence them. Grabbing them by the collar and trying to reprimand them doesn’t seem to work, either.

“These are such common complaints we get from pet owners,” said a spokesperson from Performance K9 Training based in San Diego County. “While a dog owner’s stresses naturally rise, the last thing you really want to do is start to yell at your dog because that is only going to make the animal more anxious about the visitor knocking at the door. What needs to be done is retraining the way your dog thinks about the knock on the door.”

This type of training may be referred to as positive reinforcement, but on different training platforms, is also described as classical counter conditioning.

San Diego professional dog trainers have fine-tuned progressive training methods in helping pet owners desensitize their dogs to a particular object or situation.

“In this instance, when someone is knocking on the door, we like to guide dog owners to have a pet bed towards the back of the house,” the spokesperson said. “Here, they will offer the dog their favorite treats or an interactive toy with treats in it.”

The training of this above method starts off slow.

This “treat place” will have a command name such as “go to your bed” or “go to your place.”

Before the knocking even starts at the door, the training of your dog begins with this “treat place.” Once the animal understands the concept and is busy eating the treats, the owner opens and makes noises at the front door. Intermittently, they’ll return back to the “treat place” to give more goodies to their dog.

“As the days wear on, continue the training, but add on a couple friends or family members who can knock on the door for you. And when that knock arrives, give the ‘treat place’ command along with the treats to your dog and once they are settled in, then welcome your guests,” the spokesperson said.

When implementing this training strategy, it’s important to remember the following:

  • Make sure the obedience training is in check
  • Train the dog to go to their place or bed
  • Always reward the dog for going to their place or bed
  • Good training is done with positive motivation
  • Be sure they stay on their bed until they are recalled

“A dog can learn that the sound of a knocking door is a good thing because they ultimately learn all things through trained behavior,” the spokesperson said.