Some dogs get so furious and bark whenever they hear the sound of the doorbell. Sometimes, they even bark when a stranger walks by the house, or when a package arrives. This can seem impossible to stop, but you can teach your dog not to bark at strangers.
However, note that dogs have been bred to bark, so it is an instinctive behavior that shouldn’t get you worried.
You don’t need to get bark collars to stop your dog from barking. Instead, some behaviorist methods work well to change your dog’s behavior.
Just a few training sessions can do the magic, and they will start welcoming every guest and family member that comes to your house without having to bark.
Why do dogs bark at strangers?
Before breaking any habit, you must first understand the cause. Knowing the reason why your dog is barking helps to inform the best training technique to stop dog barking.
There are three major reasons why dogs tend to bark at strangers, including:
- Excited barking
- Territorial barking
- Lack of socialization barking
Over-excitement is one of the major reasons why dogs bark at strangers. This is common among puppies and it’s usually not threatening. Rather, they are simply an expression of their friskiness through loud noises.
Although this form of barking shows your pop loves people, it can often catch strangers off guard and make them more fearful because they don’t know your dog.
Your dog might be barking just to protect their territory when a stranger approaches. This is often accompanied by raised hackles and a stiff body.
When a stranger comes close to the front of your door or merely walk by, your dog sees them as a potential threat and continue barking. This poses a threat to the stranger and causes noise disturbance to people living in the home or neighbors around.
Lack of socialization barking
Some dogs bark uncontrollably at other people when they do not have a lot of human interaction and attention from the puppy stage.
Lack of familiarization with how to act around strangers can cause your dog to bark when they come close. Besides, they don’t an established background of trust.
Rescue dogs also bark this way when human interaction is not frequent. Besides, dogs tend to bark when they have a traumatic experience with their past owners, and this damages their ability to trust strangers as well. This type of barking is linked to overwhelming anxiety.
Simple ways to teach your dog not to bark at strangers
Although there are effective dog training techniques that teach your dog to quit barking, don’t expect to see results overnight as barking is a natural inclination. So be patient as you practice the following techniques:
You can train your dog to quit barking by distracting them. A simple method is to shake your car keys whenever they bark. The jangling sound diverts their attention towards you, and at this point, you can command them to “sit.” You can reward them with a treat each time they obey you.
With time, your dog begins to learn that barking at strangers does not yield any reward, but good behavior comes with a nice treat.
The quiet method
Whenever your dog starts barking at a stranger, go closer to them, gently grab their muscle, and command them to be “Quiet.” This method is effective but you need to be careful not to shout as it may lead to negative reinforcement.
Once they remain quiet, take your hands off their muzzle and reward them with a treat. Do this each time they obey your command but don’t give the treats immediately. Allow some time for the command to sink in properly before giving the treats.
However, if your dog shows signs of frustration as you hold their muzzle, attempt the same command without holding. Try to divert their attention from the stranger and give them a treat like a piece of chicken.
Going to a “spot”
You can teach your dog to go to a specific spot in your house and stay there whenever you have a visitor. But before you can use this method, your dog must have gone through obedience training and comply whenever you command them with “sit,” “lie down,” and “stay.”
Once you decide on a particular spot, you’d love your dog to go whenever a visitor comes around, you can begin to train them to obey your command.
You can start by saying “go to your spot” and throw a treat towards the spot. Repeat this process about ten times.
The moment your dog understands this concept, you can say the command and pretend to toss the treat towards the spot. If they obey, then you can release the treat to them to ensure positive reinforcement.
You can move on to teach your dog to go to their spot from different areas of the house. Remember to reward them each time they obey at the early stage of the training.
If your dog has to stay outside or inside without your supervision, it is better to enforce preventive tactics to restrict them from engaging with strangers.
You can keep blinds and curtains closed when you leave your dog inside the house. This way, they are unaware of any stranger and they don’t have any reason to bark.
For example, you can keep your curtains closed if you are expecting a mailman to deliver a package to you. Also, you can keep your curtains or blinds down when someone is walking past your yard on the street.
But if you have a dog that prefers to stay outside, it is best to install a high fence using opaque materials. This limits your dog’s ability to see past your yard.
Rewarding successful encounters
If the major reason why your dog bark is poor socialization, you can train them to socialize better through exposure.
You can invite different people to your house at different times and ask them to come with treats. As they treat your dog with love and give treats, your dog will begin to learn that new people often offer love, attention, and treats.
Another way to help your dog quit barking is to take them on as many walks as possible in different places. With time and enough rewards, they soon learn that strangers are not a threat, even if they are in new unfamiliar places.
Diverting attention in public
When you go on dog walks, a lot of people may want to engage your dog if they bark off in a nonthreatening and excited manner. You don’t have to reward your dog for barking for attention.
However, you can teach your dog to stop barking in public places by calmly turning in a different direction from the stranger. This way, you’re avoiding any chance of engaging. Once your dog stops barking, you can reward them with treats.
After some time, your dog begins to learn that barking disallows them from interacting with someone friendly. They tend to stop barking and calmly approach strangers on their way.
Dogs have a natural tendency to bark at strange people and actions. It is an instinctive character, but you can work on them and teach your dog not to bark at strangers using the methods highlighted above.
More so, ensure your dog is well exercised and provide enough toys and activities to keep them busy and active throughout the day. This prevents them from barking out of boredom.