I am quite happy with my dog (a miniature schnauzer) and he is good...BUT I simply cannot make him stop barking when someone comes to the door. I am usually alone with my dog during the day so I cannot really take the time to stop him from barking, as I need to answer the door. What do I do?
Type of Animal: miniature schnauzer
Pet's Gender: Male
Pet's Age: 2
Name of Dog: Alfie
I had a gadget called "Bark Off" but it didn't work. I spray him in the face when he barks but he won't stop. I put him on a short leash and took him to the door with me.
Unfortunately as you are finding out, some dogs are born barkers. Factor in the fact that your dog is pretty young and is a Schnauzer (who are known to be tenacious when they begin something) and you have a pretty good combination of a marathon barker.
Of course, yelling at the dog to be quiet is futile, because barking dogs interpret our loud vocalizations as our attempt to join in the conversation they're having (ie: if the dog is barking at someone outside they're saying, "Come quick! Check it out! Friend or foe? What do you want me to do now? Oh, now you're yelling too, so I'd better keep barking!!"). Your yelling can unintentionally serve to reinforce his yapping. You will need to re-train your new pup so that he develops new behaviors.
When the dog barks, ignore him. Patiently wait for him to stop. After a few seconds of silence, introduce a cue by saying 'hush' and then rewarding him. Timing is critical!! Do not reward him until he has been quiet for several seconds. Think like a dog for a moment: If given the options, which would you choose: keep barking or hush and get a treat?
Conduct these training sessions several times a day until your new dog figures out that 'hush' means to be quiet and that being quiet brings the treats, while barking brings nothing. Make the pauses between his silence and your 'hush' cue longer and longer. Then start saying 'hush' when he is actually barking and reward him when he stops. Remember not to keep repeating that phrase though, because it will only reinforce him to keep barking.
I also tend to use a back-up strategy: diversion. Instead of yelling at the pup when he barks, call him to you and reward him for performing a desired behavior, like sitting in front of you for a moment or fetching his favorite toy. For safety reasons, you don't want this pup to behave like a canine mime if someone should be bothering your house. It's good that he alerts you, but by trying a diversion tactic and rewarding his silence rather than his noise, you will benefit everyone by having a better behaved dog who no longer irritates your ears with his non-stop barking.
I would also attach a note to your door that says something like, "My dog is training how to behave when someone comes to the door. Please be patient and I will open the door as soon as he does what he needs to." so that people who come to the house understand that he's learning proper manners on how to meet people and how to act when someone comes to the door. You can also leave a container of treats out there for them to take and give to your dog when they come in. This will reinforce that good things happen when someone comes to the house so he'll be less likely to bark.
And please, please, PLEASE remember that this behavior didn't start overnight, and as such, you won't be able to break him of this habit in a day or two. Patience (and maybe a pair of ear-plugs) here is the key!
I hope this helps.
AAS Vet Tech. Bully breed rehab & Behavior modification