Dogs reacting at the door, and wanting them to stop barking, is incredibly common… and a natural thing for dogs to do. Dogs are alerting their human of a potential visitor, or threat. They learn that the bell means someone is in their territory, and depending on the experiences they have had at the door (and their natural temperament), this could be fairly neutral to an extreme response. Personally, I have one of each dog. Guess who my insane “I must bark and raise hackles and cause a huge commotion dog” is? Yes, his name is Mort. This is something we have worked on a lot. So how do you make a dog stop barking at the doorbell? Well… you can work on it or you can leave it alone. Read on.
You can work on how your dog reacts to a visitor at the door using training and behavior modification. One thing that can work well to make your dog stop barking are thanking your dog for the notification. This might sound crazy, but this action acknowledges (to the dog) that you also understand that there is a visitor. Because your dog is typically using an alert bark due to the “potential danger” or potential-human (depending on how your dog feels about visitors), he will understand he has done his job.
Once you acknowledge the barking, you can give whatever typical words and actions indicate to your dog to stop a behavior. I would couple this with a down-stay or sit, which will also help distract your dog a bit and would help with the barking. Make sure you remain completely calm, even using a low and quiet voice forcing your dog to reduce the noise he makes to hear it. Alternatively, you could train your dog to go to a different area when the doorbell rings (say, put a valuable piece of food or toy in a crate at the other end of the house). What you do depends on how exciting the visitor is to your dog.
And for any measure you take, being calm and consistent is vital.
All of this said, carefully think if you want to invest in this training at all (which can be challenging with a dog who is really aroused at the sound of the doorbell). Personally I feel this is one of the great, great advantages of having a dog – security. I’ve heard from cops online and directly that this is one of the best home security measures you could possibly make – intruders will rarely bother breaking into a home when they have to deal with a dog (alert sound and possible injury). I have also had somewhat questionable people at the door who were quite fearful of my barking 25lb dog.
Maybe just work on training around general barking around the house if it’s an issue – acknowledge and redirect the behavior to something else – in order to control nuisance barking. And perhaps leave the “person approaching the house” barking in place. And if your dog is at all threatening at the door, that is important to manage for liability. I use a leash that is tethered to our bannister and leash our dog if I need to open the door for a person (and I have other training in place for people we invite in – much less of a problem due to behavior work we’ve done over the years). But that’s another question entirely!
This is an expanded answer for a question originally asked on Quora.