I could use some pointers too. Finn goes bonkers if someone knocks at the door, if we make some sort of knocking sound in the house or if one of us does something that makes him think someone is at the door such as if I push in the key board at the computer desk so I can stand up because one time, someone knocked at the door while I was on the computer and he remembers it. It's awful and I've tried everything. You can try some of these things. Maybe they'll work for you even though they didn't work for us:
Use a spray bottle to spray him in the face if he barks.
Put pennies in a can and shake it when he barks to startle him and snap him out of it.
Get in front of him and clap loud with a stern "no" or "quiet" with hand on hips, walking toward him to make him back off.
A quick touch on the neck to snap him out of it (this is more of a Cesar thing).
I know there were more but I can't think of them at the moment. I always try to get him to be quiet before I'll open the door but it just won't happen so if I know someone is coming over I'll shut him in another room until my visitors are inside. Yes, Finnigan won...
It's much easier to teach a dog to do something than to not do something.
So, for example, teaching a dog to not pull on a leash is a long, frustrating experience and one instance where you allow them to pull can seriously set back your whole program. Teaching a dog to walk nicely at your side is much easier; you reward walking next to you, and discourage pulling, but because you are rewarding walking next to you and never rewarding pulling, the dog will get the idea eventually even if you are not 100% consistent.
It's hard to teach a dog not to jump at you if you have treats, but much easier to teach a dog to sit if it wants a treat.
A behavior "vacuum" is very hard to train, and "not barking" is a behavior vacuum. Think instead of what you want your dog to do when the doorbell rings or there is a knock. Much easier to train towards a positive (what the dog is doing) goal than a negative (what the dog is not doing) goal.
***Disclaimer! My dogs are horrible when someone comes in because we don't have guests that often and I'm too darned lazy to put the time into training them properly to greet guests!! Having said that, though, here's some pointers if you get guests frequently enough to work on it!*****
What you want to do is get a picture in your mind of what you want your dogs to do when a guest comes. I think a good goal is to sit in a particular spot, not too close to the door. So, what you do is get a helper to knock on the door, and you stay inside and when you hear a knock, have treats at the ready to get the dog's attention. Wave around the treat and put them in the spot and say "sit!" and praise. Repeat frequently and your dog should get the idea that a knock on the door is basically a command to go sit in a particular spot. Then you need to ask your guests to ignore the dog if he's jumping/barking/excited, and the whole door ritual changes into "I sit here, I get a treat, and everyone ignores me unless I'm calm.'
The hardest part of the equation is the human end of it. I have a hard time convincing people to ignore my dogs if they jump.
If you know someone is coming over, you can also pre-leash your dog, take him to his spot and have him sit. Reward, and make sure to use high-value treats like bits of cheese to make it more interesting than the frenzy of the greeting.
Yes this one is difficult! I just trained mine to go to the top of the steps (we have a bi level entry) when someone comes in. They all sit at the top of the steps (usually LOL) and bark. Most people say use the can with coins in it and shake it when they bark but I found it just added to the commotion!
I remember watching an Oprah show on this and her own dogs...she had a trainer (Tamar...I think) on and I know they treated her big dogs with treats for the correct behavior and went back and checked on her awhile later and things were working well! Can't remember any details though!
Pooka (not on purpose) got trained to run and get a toy when we come home. So, maybe train your dogs that you won't pet them until they have a toy? Its hard to bark at the door with a toy in your mouth.
Yeah, we tried the toy bit with Sparty because he is so vocal and he would race to grap a toy, bark with his mouthful, and drop in front of the guest and bark at them. This behavior just got reinforced because the guests all thought it was cute! I finally gave up trying to make him quiet. My other corgis were both quiet.
ein is totally a "guard dog" now. when he hears the doorbell ring, watch out. his bark turns scary. my family thinks he sounds like a rottweiler! he loves it when i tell him he's so brave and he sounds so tough. lol. this turns annoying though. especially when we're watching tv and a doorbell rings within a commercial or show. ein runs to the door like a weenie. lol.