A dog that barks uncontrollably when the doorbell rings is a challenge for his owner whenever someone comes to the door. Dogs bark at the door for a variety of reasons. Better understanding these and accommodating them prior to answering the door could eliminate some of the extra canine noise.
It's an Interruption
A ringing doorbell means something new is going to happen. It is a change of the status quo. Perhaps your pup was busy chewing on a toy or chasing a ball and now that activity must stop because a different one might begin. Maybe the dog was sleeping and the noise of the ringing doorbell was a rude awakening. Whatever the interpretation of the interruption, it is still an altering of what was happening. For a dog, that's reason enough to speak.
Wants You To Know
If your dog can't see you or your reaction to the ringing doorbell, he might wonder if you are aware of the signal that someone is waiting at the entrance to the home. By barking, he is alerting you to the fact that the doorbell is ringing and that you need to take the appropriate response action. Dogs quickly associate sound to activities that occur just after the sound is made. In his past experience, the ringing doorbell is quickly followed up by the opening of the door. For the dog, the bell ringing and the subsequent door opening are synonymous with a new person coming to the home. Your dog just wants you to know that there is a stranger trying to gain access to the home.
This might seem like the same thing as trying to tell you that there is an action you need to take in regards to activity at the door. However, it is not. Some dogs stop barking when they see you are headed to the door. Others continue. This is because they are wondering who or what is waiting on the other side. Dogs are social animals wanting interaction. When the doorbell rings, the possibility exists that the new "someone" will want to pet them, play with them or scratch behind their ears.
Sometimes a dog's barking is his way of telling you that the new activity such as the ringing of the doorbell is frightening to them. The ringing of the doorbell is often associated with the unknown. What is waiting on the other side? Is it something that might be dangerous to the family? The protective nature of dogs often makes them express concern for their human companions.
Amy M. Armstrong is a former community news journalist with more than 15 years of experience writing features and covering school districts. She has received more than 40 awards for excellence in journalism and photography. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Washington State University. Armstrong grew up on a dairy farm in western Washington and wrote agricultural news while in college.