Many dogs take issue when they hear sounds coming from the outside world or more specifically, the door (or doorbell). While it seems that this problem is unsurmountable, it has a rather easy fix. The only caveat is that it takes time, diligence, and patience, to desensitize your pup.
If your dog is so sensitive that she barks at even the lightest noise from the outside world, start anywhere in the home and knock lightly on the floor. This should set your dog off with mild barking. If that is the case, then get your high value treats at the ready. Remember from other blogs, high value treats are some form of real meat such as boiled chicken, freeze dried beef liver (100% w no additives) or freeze dried steak. You can buy the Stewarts brand on Amazon.
Now, with many treats in hand, knock lightly on the floor and get ready to stuff your dog with treats. The idea is you catch your dog before the first woof with the first treat. Use the marker word “yes!” every time you and her a treat and do it in rapid succession. So it should sound like, “knock knock, yes! treat, yes! treat, yes! treat, yes! treat” and continue with the treats until you feel she has forgotten about the original knock. You will get the sense as to when that is.
Next, you will need a partner to help you. While you are inside, near the front door, have your partner knock ever so lightly on the front door. Then it’s “knock knock, yes! treat, yes! treat, yes! treat, yes! treat” and continue with the treats until you feel she has forgotten about the original knock. Getting the pattern?
You can do this process with the doorbell, other sounds outside, and even sounds in the backyard if those set her off. Wait till the kids come home from school and stand ready with the treats to perform the task.
This obviously won’t cure your dog overnight, but if you continue to do this exercise daily for a few weeks, you should have a dog that, when an outside noise is heard, looks to you for treats rather than bark away. You should give her treats for the next few weeks and slowly wean her off, giving her treats maybe 1 out of every 4 times a noise that sets her off is heard. Then, after that, keep it at a ratio of 20 to 1 – like a slot machine – she’ll never know when she is going to get paid, so she’ll keep doing the behavior. Enjoy!