Barking is a dog’s way of communicating. Since our furry friends cannot talk, they bark to express their emotions, needs and wants. Any loving dog will bark at their owner when they walk through the door in the evening as a way of saying ‘hi’ and expressing delight of seeing their favourite human. Dogs also bark to invite play, express hunger, call your attention to something, or to simply talk with their fellow canines.
Did you know that each bark is usually different and accompanied by body language that indicates the state of your dog? For instance, when happy, conveying a greeting, or requesting for play, a dog will wag their tail, jump up and down, or run in circles while barking in a light-hearted high-pitch tone. When looking to catch your attention, a dog may give off short and focused barks while nodding or making small snappy jumps.
Barking from dogs; however, is not always innocent in nature. Many pet owners find themselves plagued with the problem of a dog that barks aggressively at strangers. Some dogs even go as far as growling or lunging at any unfortunate stranger who crosses their path.
When you find yourself in this situation, it is easy to get tempted to resort to secluding your dog to another part of the house whenever visitors drop by. But, isolation will not solve the problem. It can actually lead to your dog feeling alienated.
If you don’t know how to train your dog to stop barking at people, fret not. Here are some effective dog training tips that will cut down on aggressive barking.
Discourage the Bad Behaviour
A good first step to taming excessive barking at people is to show your dog that you are not happy with that sort of behaviour. However, be gentle when discouraging your dog from barking at people. Yelling at the dog to stop or getting physical will make things worse. Such extreme actions will upset your dog or form the conclusion that barking gets your attention. A simpler way is to completely ignore your dog. Get your friends/visitors to do the same if you are in an indoor setting. Do not talk, pet, or make eye contact with the dog for as long as the barking continues. Even better, physically turn your back on the dog.
Ignoring your dog will send the message that you disapprove of barking at people. Your dog will pick up on this and eventually stop. Once the barking stops, you can turn around and offer praise or a yummy treat to drive the message home.
Get your Dog out More Often
The main reason why dogs bark aggressively at people is out of fear or anxiety. A new visitor to the house or a stranger who gets too close while outdoors may spook your dog and trigger barking. A good way to curb this behaviour is to get your furry pal to be more sociable.
A dog that is properly socialized will be more welcoming to people and will stop perceiving strangers as threats. Going out on regular walks, visiting parks often, or hosting guests at home regularly are some good ways of helping your dog get accustomed to people.
A nice trick that will make it easier for your dog to change their perception of strangers is to introduce treats to the process. Keep your dog’s favourite treats at hand and offer some as a new face approaches. You can do this as well when your pet remains calm in the midst of strangers. With time, your furry friend will equate behaving around people with getting a treat and therefore be more accepting of people.
Raise an Active and Mentally Healthy Dog
Boredom and loneliness is another reason why dogs bark excessively in the presence of new faces. Being pack animals, dogs need to be around their fellow canines or at least enjoy the pleasure of human company. So, if your dog is always locked in the house or around the yard, it will become sad, lonely and resort to barking at anything or anyone passing by.
If this is the case with you, the solution is simple. Maintain a more active lifestyle for your dog. Make sure to go on daily walks and set aside play times with fun and physically challenging games. Alternatively, find a dog daycare where your pet can hang out when you are not at home. A physically and mentally healthy dog will be happier and less likely to bark at people.
Teach your Dog how to Stop Barking at your Command
Finally, the most effective trick on how to train your dog to stop barking at people is teaching the ‘quiet’ command. You can use a quiet command to get your dog to settle down at any time and not just when he/she is lashing out at strangers. For example, give the command when your pet decides to join in on a dog howl in the middle of the night or gets in the habit of barking inappropriately at objects or people through the window.
Like with any kind of dog training, teaching a quiet command will require time, patience, and a lot of treats. You should start off by stimulating your dog to bark and then give the ‘quiet command’. The command can be in the form of a look or audible sounds like ‘shh’, ‘hush’, or ‘quiet’. Only offer a treat after your dog complies with the command and does not resume barking after a few seconds of silence. Repeat this process as many times as necessary until the command sinks in.
Regular dog training will make for a happier, well behaved dog. You can even buy courses to follow at home so YOU become the dog expert – such as this course.
Mastering how to train your dog to stop barking at people is not hard. Just follow the tips shared above religiously and your dog will learn how to behave over time. However, expecting your dog to completely stop barking is unrealistic. For a dog, barking when there is someone at the door, a bird or cat nearby, visitors entering the house, or people passing by the house is a natural behaviour. With these tips; however, you should be able to stop your dog from forming the habit of aggressive barking as a way of greeting strangers.