As a dog owner, there is nothing more embarrassing than your dog barking at every person they lay eyes on. Although in their mind they are just protecting us, it is never a nice feeling to be the owner of a dog that shouts at everyone they meet. So, how do you train your dog to stop barking at strangers?
In this post we will get into the basic lessons you need to give your dog so that this embarrassing habit is gone for good!
Why Does My Dog Bark At Strangers?
Dogs bark to communicate (click here to read more about why dogs bark in general). There are a few reasons why your dog barks at strangers. Here are the most commons ones:
A fearful dog is naturally scared of the unknown. So when he or she comes face to face with an unknown person the only way they know how to react is to bark and growl at the stranger. Whenever a stranger approaches you or your home, your dog instinctively barks out of fear.
This is the opposite of fear. Your dog becomes so overwhelmed with excitement upon seeing a new face that they just cannot help barking. Usually, barking accompanied by a wagging tail and a wiggling rear end means your dog is barking out of excitement.
Not Enough Socialisation with People
Often a dog will bark at strangers because they just don’t have enough experience being around people they don’t know. They simply are not used to being in the presence of anyone who isn’t you. A poorly socialised dog usually barks at things that are not family. So when they see an unfamiliar face, the barking begins!
Territorial dogs can be very protective of the owner and their home. So seeing a stranger may pose a threat to their territory, causing them to bark at the stranger. A pretty good way to know if your dog is barking territorially is if they only bark at strangers when they get close to you.
So How Do I Stop My Dog From Barking At Strangers?
Now that we’ve gone through the reasons why your dog is barking at strangers, let’s look at some of the different training methods that can be used to stop this behaviour:
A good way to stop your dog from barking at a stranger coming your way is by distracting them before they have a chance to bark. Noise is an excellent form of distraction for a dog. Snap your fingers, use a clicker, rattle your keys, make a sudden noise with your mouth. Any of these noises should distract your dog and get their attention. Now you can give them a command. For example, tell them to sit. If your dog follows your command and does not bark at the stranger, reward them for being such a good dog! You should repeat this every time a stranger approaches.
Ignoring The Unwanted Behaviour
This is another good method to stop your dog barking at strangers. Firstly, you should make it clear to your dog that they will not get your attention if they bark at strangers. You will simply ignore and carry on with your walk. To practice this training method, have someone come over to your house and ask them to ignore your dog while he or she is barking. Once the barking has stopped and your dog has properly settled, your guest should then reward them with a little treat. The more you practice this, the bigger the reward your dog should receive each time they nicely greet a stranger without barking.
Show your dog that they will not be rewarded with attention from strangers if they cannot stop barking when they come across strangers. You do this by instantly turning your back to an approaching stranger and moving off in the opposite direction. This shows your dog that they will not get a chance to interact with people if they carry on barking. Only once your dog ceases to bark, you can reward them.