Our dogs bark often. It is their main way of communicating with us and other animals. And a lot of times we love our dogs for their barking. They let us know when someone is at the door and keep us safe in the park or walking around. But sometimes excessive barking at strangers can be worrisome and even a little annoying or embarrassing. This could be an indication that your dog has anxiety and is uncomfortable around new people, which could easily turn into aggression.
If your dog seems to bark at strangers a little too much, here are best ways to get them to stop:
How to Help Stop the Barking?
The hardest thing for many owners to believe is that ignoring a barking dog can help them learn to not bark. By ignoring them every time they bark because they want something (i.e. walk, food, play, etc) they will learn that barking doesn’t always work in getting what they want.
Desensitize your dog:
Sometimes it’s as simple as getting your dog used and comfortable to stimuli outside of the home. Check out this great idea to desensitize your dog from the Humane Society.
Let’s say that, during walks, your dog always barks at the other dogs and people passing by, minding their own business. Here’s what you do:
- Enlist the help of a friend who has a dog.
- Find out how far away from your dog they have to be for your dog to remain silent—that’s the starting sweet spot.
- Have your friend walk the dog toward you and your dog. This may involve getting closer or entering your dog’s line of sight, depending on your sweet spot.
- As they approach, distract your dog with his favorite treat.
- Once your buddy and your buddy’s pooch are no longer in view, it’s time to end the treat feast.
- Repeat as necessary.
- Take it slow and steady, remembering that you’ll need to do this numerous times to desensitize your dog and train him to pay attention to you instead of other puppies and people. Positive reinforcement requires patience and time before it sticks.
Teach your dog the “quiet” command
First, you actually have to teach your dog to “speak” first. Tell him to “speak” and wait until he barks. Let him vocalize his thoughts a few times, then offer up the treat he loves best. As soon as he knocks off the barking to investigate the goodie, let him have the treat and give him plenty of praise so that he knows what a terrific doggo he is. As with the previous method, repeat this as often as it takes to teach your pup to “speak” on command.
Then, once they learn to “speak” you can piggyback off that lesson and teach them to be quiet. Issue the speak command—yes, you actively want to encourage your doggo to bark. The second he lets loose, order him to “quiet,” and promptly offer him a treat. Heap him with praise and let him gobble up the treat. Keep repeating this so that he understands how to be quiet as well as how to speak.
Limit their exposure to strangers:
Use tall solid fence, such as brick or wood, to limit their access seeing other yards. When inside keep the blinds closed so that they can’t see the yard or the street. This helps manage their barking by creating an environment that limits their sight of others.
Of course, if your dog continues to bark uncontrollably at strangers then it could be time to seek professional help. First take them to the vet to rule out any underlying sickness, then get a recommendation for a trainer. We want our dogs to understand that barking is OK, but only at the right times.