How To Stop a Dog From Barking at Strangers
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There are many reasons that can cause your dog to bark at strangers and determining this can help you employ dog training techniques.
In this article, we will discuss why dogs do it and explain how to teach your dog to control his barking when someone unfamiliar approaches.
Why Do Dogs Bark at Strangers?
When your dog barks at strangers there are a few possibilities that lead to this behavior. Some of the most common reasons that your dog may bark at strangers include:
If a stranger approaches and your dog’s body language is tense then your dog thinks he is protecting you. This may happen when someone walks by your house or while out on a walk. This means that your dog sees this person as a potential threat. It’s great to have a dog who wants to protect but there needs to be an understanding for your pup that not everyone is out to do harm.
The fear of the unknown can cause your dog to bark and growl at any unfamiliar faces, especially if he is not socialized. If your dog is scared of unfamiliar humans and animals, then he will most likely bark when they get near him or your home.
Over-excitement is one of the main reasons your dog will bark at strangers, especially if he is still a puppy. This kind of barking isn’t threatening and it’s just your dog expressing their excited energy through their voice. The good news is, most likely it means your dog loves people and gets very excited. The problem is when others aren’t familiar with your dog and see it as a threat or become nervous.
Lack of Socialization
Similar to fear, if your dog has not had a lot of human interaction he will likely bark at humans because they do not trust or know them. This is common in puppies and rescue dogs who had little human interaction. Also, a traumatic experience with a previous owner can cause trust issues with strangers and any human as well.
Ways to Teach Your Dog Not to Bark At Strangers
An easy way to get your dog to stop barking is to distract them with a sound like car keys or hand clapping. The sound will divert his attention onto you so that you can give a command like sit or lay. At this point, you can even offer your dog a treat if the distraction works. Your dog will eventually learn that if he does not bark at a stranger he can receive a treat.
Try to Quiet Him
You can try using the “quiet” technique by holding your dog’s muzzle. This will teach your dog that he can only bark when someone comes to the door until you hold the muzzle and say the word “quiet”. Once this is performed, release your dog’s muzzle and step back from him. Your dog should bark no more than 3 times after your give the command. If he does good, call him to another area to sit and offer a treat, while a stranger is still in view. If your dog tries to bark after this process, repeat the sequence and do not reward him until he sits and remains quiet.
Poor socialization can result in barking. As above offering treats can help get your dog more comfortable around strangers. You can have various unfamiliar people come to your house at different times and bring treats. As they provide your dog with treats and attention, your dog will learn to not see people as a threat.
It also helps your dog to take him on as many walks as possible and in different places. Over time and with enough treats offered along the way, he will learn that strangers are not a threat, even when in unfamiliar places.
If your dog likes to bark while looking out the window, you can create barriers to cover windows or build a solid fence to prevent your dog from seeing people. This barrier needs to limit your dog from seeing people or other animals passing by. It’s a good idea to keep your curtains, blinds or doors closed during the day when your dog is home.
There are also permanent options, like plastic film or spraying a glass coating on your windows so your dog can not see people outside. This means your dog is less motivated to protect his territory and bark.
It is best to show your dog that they cannot be rewarded with interaction if they continue to bark at strangers. Do this by immediately turning around and walking in the opposite direction as an approaching stranger or animal. This will show your dog that he does not get to engage or receive a treat if he continues to bark. If and when your dog has successfully stopped barking, you can then offer him a treat. Repeat this process until your dog has learned that barking does not result in a reward.
Keep Him Healthy
Always make sure your dog has a regular wellness schedule. It is important that your pup is getting everything he needs including exercise, a balanced diet, flea and tick prevention, and recommended vaccinations to prevent disease. A healthy dog is a happier dog.
Find a Dog Trainer
If your dog continues to bark after trying the above-listed suggestions, it may be time to find a dog trainer. A professional dog trainer will meet with you and your dog to determine the best kind of training sessions to help you find ways to stop your dog from unnecessary barking.
Dogs do not communicate like humans, and barking is one form of communication for them. If your dog is barking it may be because he is excited or, it could be a warning that he is not comfortable with a situation and wants to get your attention. Knowing the cause and observing your pup’s body language can help you understand why and help you find a solution.