Here's the quick story:
We moved into our apartment 4 years ago. We're good tenants, we never got into trouble for anything other than forgetting to kennel our dogs when they did the monthly pest control sprays one time.
Last year, someone moved in on our floor with a nasty little kid that likes to run to our door, pound on it, and fly off down the hallway and disappear in the time it takes me to cross the 20ft to the door from where I'm sitting now. I'm not kidding, in the time it took me to get there and open the door, I heard the door that leads downstairs slam. I know it's our responsibility to make sure our dogs aren't barking, but when they're being harassed by that little punk, it sets training back.
Now we have new management in the building, and they are decidedly anti-dog. We got an infraction today because of the barking, and if we get 2 more they'll kick the dogs out. We've been planning on moving out, but our lease isn't up until May of 2012, and we aren't exactly prepared if it happens.
Shock collars are an evil torture device, I won't even consider them. Do the citronella collars work? I'm considering those, or the alarms that you can put on the door that emit a high-pitch squeal to deter them. Do these things work? Have any of you tried them? I really need some quick advice. Thanks!
I agree dogs can be trained to do a lot, but barking can be hard to suppress. There is a bit of a difference between a friendly visitor knocking before being allowed in, and someone running up, pounding, and running away. I could probably work with my female to stop it, but my male sees protecting his home as his most important job in life and it can be very hard to get him to even notice treats when he's on his game.
Eliminating self-rewarding behavior like barking also requires very consistent and powerful rewards to counter-condition the dog. So every time you are not home and the dog barks, the training backslides.
I'm not saying it's not worth a try: it is. I AM saying that plenty of very good trainers are not able to eliminate warning barking in dogs. Even using clicker training.
Its very kind of you to refrain from putting shock collars on the kids. If you can be home during the time of day the kids come by you could keep your dogs tethered near you and calm them when they hear the door. Hopefully you have explained the problem with the kids to the management. and explain what you are doing to solve the problem, asking for time to retrain them not to bark at the door (a near impossible task). (and ask if the parrents can be served an infraction also) Another idea is to get the kids on your side. Try to have to dogs in the hall when they come by, introduce them to one another, have the kids give the dogs treats and maybe set up a play date. If the kids see that they could get a lot of positive fun from the dogs they may be persuaded to stop the knocking, and the dogs would benefit from having high energy kids to play with.
You are fighting an uphill battle and that would be my very last resort. The old saying "You get more flies with honey than with vinegar" may apply here. First I would point out to you that it's quite normal for kids to play pranks of the sort you describe, they find them funny and don't mean or see any real harm in that. This does not make them "nasty". If you can soften your view of the child and realize the child is not a partner of the "anti-dog new management" you will be ahead of the game. Try to soften your view of the management as well. It's my experience that management, especially new people in management, feel that RULES are what everybody needs, and they tend to make lots of them..... some of which backfire, as in this situation, as not all situations fit the intended purpose of the rule. There intentions may be good and if you show concern for the reasons behind the rule, they will be more responsive to you as well.
Here is what I would try. I would try to enlist the help of the mother or caregiver and see if they will bring the child to your home or allow the child to come over and make friends with the dogs, and make sure I had some yummy thing to offer (after asking mom what the child can have - some kids have dietary restrictions - and this question will show the mom that your concern and goodwill extends to her child as well as to your dogs.)
If they come and all goes well, I would ask the child not to run and knock on the door because the dogs need to be very quiet or the manager will not allow them to stay and that there are people who will complain if they hear the dogs bark. Elicit the child's help and his interest in the dogs in an age appropriate way. Realize that you are asking him to give up something that's been a lot of fun for him.... Maybe show off a trick, or have him give a treat and a belly rub. Tell him he's welcome to come visit the dogs, if it's OK with his mom and see how you can set that up in a clear way. If he's old enough you may offer him a dollar to come help you brush them. Once you start to think in these terms, you will see many new possibilities. Children are our future and it's best if they like and learn about dogs while they are young, otherwise they may grow up to become anti-dog management.... Goog luck!
Alternatively, you could just wire the door knocker up to the electricity mains, give the kid a gift he would not get over in a hurry!!!
Am only joking before you all report me lol x