Saturday, November 22, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Talking dogs: Barking dogs can be trained to ignore that doorbell

By Lisa Moore, The Modesto Bee

A universally common behavior among our canine family members is barking when someone comes to the door. Ask your dog to “sit” when he’s three feet away, and his lack of response suggests he may be deaf. But he springs up out of a dead sleep and can be clocked at Mach speed toward the front door, barking ferociously, when a barely perceptible knock or ring of the doorbell is heard.

This behavior is not hard-wired into the dog’s DNA; it is a learned behavior, or a conditioned response (barking) to a conditioned stimulus (doorbell or knock). The dog learns through repeated exposure that when the doorbell rings, you jump up and open the door to reveal a person on the other side. The dog learns to join you in responding to the stimulus, in his own loud, often irritating way.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a dog do nothing but lie quietly, without so much as a cue from you, when he hears the doorbell or knock? You might be surprised to learn that you can quite easily teach your dog to literally do nothing in response to that particular stimulus, and it doesn’t involve fitting him with earplugs.

Your dog hears the stimulus (doorbell/knock) and watches your unwavering, predictable response (going to the door and opening it) often enough to form his pattern of behavior. To rewire, or change the dog’s response to the stimulus, he needs to hear it a lot more often and learn a different response.

Here’s what I do with every new dog that joins my family: I begin by ringing the doorbell or knocking on the front door about 50 times per day, divided into five sessions, lasting about three minutes each. Usually the new dog already has a conditioned response – barking – on board. I could just keep repeating the process until the barking faded away completely, but I don’t have that kind of time. So, I introduce a behavior that is incompatible with barking while the doorbell/knock can be heard. I throw small bits of treats all over the floor. While the dog is eagerly searching for and eating each of these little goodies, he can hear the stimulus, but can’t possibly bark and eat at the same time. Since the reward of hunting cookies is stronger than the barking behavior, the silent cookie hunt continues.

Over the next few days, as the barking behavior begins to fade because of lack of practice, I make the cookie hunts less frequent, while the number of times the stimulus is heard remains the same. Once I’ve attained my goal (silent dogs, unresponsive to the doorbell/knocking), I tune it up once a month by spending five minutes repeatedly knocking or ringing the bell.

This process is called habituation, and is a common and simple form of learning. When exposed repeatedly to the stimulus, your dog will reject it as irrelevant, and will ignore it. This process can be applied to a host of other undesirable responses your dog has developed, and it can be ridiculously easy to do. Does your dog bounce around and go bonkers each time you attach his leash in preparation for a walk? Simply snap his leash on and off repeatedly over a period of days and watch the behavior fade. Does he spin and squeal each time you open the cupboard that contains his treats? Repeatedly open and close it for a week or so and take note of the rapid decline of his once frenzied response.

Perhaps the best part of this process is it allows you to create behavior you like in a fun and positive manner. Suppose you choose to yell at, spank or scold the dog every time he barks at the door. At most, you’ll have some success at limiting the barking (as long as you continue to penalize it), or your dog will quickly decide it’s safer to remain at a distance from the door, out of your punishing reach, and still bark his head off. This is just another example of positive or reward-based dog training; far more powerful, productive and fun than short-sighted punishment techniques.

Reach Lisa Moore in care of LifeStyles, The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto, CA 95352.

Mcclatchy-Tribune News Service

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Proud Dog Lover tooJune 01, 2014 - 7:34 pm

    I prefer my dog to bark and assure you unless I am expecting company rarely open the door or jump up. I commend my dog for warning me and then give another command if warranted. They do this when someone is on or near my property as do the neighbors' dogs. If someone is even on my neighbors' roof I am alerted and I wouldn't change it for anything. If a welcomed guest has arrived my dogs will do as commanded but if you're unwelcome, I'd suggest you heed my dogs warning because I am fully prepared to defend my home. Barking to warn is a great thing, my dogs don't bark otherwise and I wouldn't change it. When hunting, they know to alert silently but at home they give people a head's up and again I prefer it.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

US / World

House intel panel debunks many Benghazi theories

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 8 Comments

 
A look at how FDA-approved robotic leg braces work

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Marine with robotic leg braces gets Bronze Star

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Oregon festival’s giant nutcracker: 41 feet

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

San Francisco window washer falls onto moving car

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Zookeepers had safety concerns before gorilla died

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

California storms bring scattered rain, mudslides

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Judge declares wrongly convicted woman innocent

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

$139M deal reached in school molestation case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Senate leader lays off dozens of office employees

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

UC expands legal services for immigrant students

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Man pleads not guilty to emailing nudies of ex

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Stymied? Republicans seek immigration response

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 4 Comments

 
LA animal shelter slashes prices on 100 pets

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Agency rejects solar project in Silurian Valley

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
93-year-old woman marks 75 years with same company

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

UK police spied on reporters for years, docs show

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Agency: Schools helped Lanza’s mom ‘appease’ him

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Bandits in Guinea steal suspected Ebola blood

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
With snow still piled high, Buffalo faces flooding

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Iran nuke talks stalled, despite Kerry efforts

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

 
Biden urges Russia to uphold east Ukraine truce

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Police: 3-year-old set fire that killed his family

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
.

Opinion

Editorial Cartoons: Nov. 22, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Batson column falls short of truth

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 45 Comments

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: Nov. 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Nov. 22, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

My sister kicked Mom out of her house and won’t let her have the car

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

 
Horoscopes: Nov. 22, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

Blanket drive for homeless gets help from Colts player

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
.

Entertainment

‘Queen Latifah Show’ to end after its 2nd season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B9

Bill Cosby show set for Vegas casino canceled

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Matt Czuchry says ‘Good Wife’ arc is at right time

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

.

Sports

 
Sparano savors 1st win with Raiders

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Vacaville downs Del Oro to advance to section semis

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B1

NFL will hear Adrian Peterson’s appeal Dec. 2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
49ers’ Dorsey is out of Sunday’s game against Redskins

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

France levels tie against Switzerland in Davis Cup

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Ibanez, Cash, Wakamatsu finalists to manage Rays

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Federal judge denies sports betting in New Jersey

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
JC women’s basketball: Solano advances to tourney title game

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Ciganda, Granada tied for lead at LPGA finale

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Sharks trade Demers to Stars for Dillon

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
This date in sports history for Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

.

Business

Toyota recalls nearly 423K Lexuses for fuel leaks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Ford’s new F-150 to get 26 mpg, tops among pickups

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4, 1 Comment | Gallery

CEOs in 10 big mergers to get $430M: Equilar study

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
California unemployment unchanged at 7.3 percent

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

White House: Immigration steps would boost wages

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
.

Home Seller 11/22/14

Ask a Designer: from clutter to decor

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR2

Real estate transactions for Nov. 22, 2014

By Maureen Fissolo | From Page: HSR3

US 30-year mortgage rates drop to 3.99 percent

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR3