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How to Get Your Dog to Stop Barking at Strangers in 2024

Is your dog’s barking at strangers causing problems for you? If yes, read on to learn 10 best ways to get your four-legged friend to stop barking at strangers. You’ll learn various techniques, such as socialization and calming commands. So, let’s get started and transform your dog’s “woof!” into a warm “welcome!”

Why does your dog keep barking at strangers?

Dogs barking at strangers is a common behavior. There are different reasons this might happen, and it’s important to identify the reason to address the issue. Below are some possible reasons:

1. Protecting their territory

how to stop dog aggression towards humans

Dogs are inclined to guard their space, and seeing strangers in it may cause alarm. This is especially true if your dog considers your home their exclusive area.

2. Fear or anxiety

Some dogs are naturally shy or anxious, and meeting new people can be overwhelming. Barking may be their way of expressing discomfort or warning strangers to stay away.

3. Lack of socialization

Puppies that haven’t interacted with different people enough may be wary of strangers because they haven’t had positive experiences with them. This can lead to fear-based barking or even aggression.

4. Excitement or playfulness

Some friendly, energetic dogs may bark at strangers because they want to play or are excited. Although the intention is friendly, it can look aggressive to those on the receiving end.

5. Learned behavior

If barking at strangers has been rewarded in the past (e.g., you giving them attention or letting them inside), dogs may have learned that barking is an effective way to get what they want.

How to get your dog to stop barking at strangers

As a dog owner, dealing with a dog that barks excessively at strangers can be challenging. However, there are various techniques that you can use to help them overcome this behavior. Here’s a more descriptive breakdown of the steps to follow:

1. Socialization

Introduce your dog to new faces and situations gradually in a controlled environment. This exposure should be a gradual process that includes many people from different age groups and backgrounds. This will help them feel comfortable around strangers and reduce fear and anxiety reactions.

2. Audio desensitization

Help your dog get used to the sounds they hear from strangers by playing recorded sounds of common situations like doorbells ringing or people talking. Start with a low volume and gradually increase it over time. This way, your furry friend will become familiar with the sounds and won’t bark when they hear similar sounds in similar situations.

3. Desensitization

Start by working on desensitizing your dog to the presence of strangers. Gradually introduce them to people at a distance where your dog remains calm. As they become more relaxed, you can gradually decrease the distance over time. This process should be done in a controlled environment where you are able to monitor their reaction and keep them calm.

4. Obedience training

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Teach your dog basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “quiet.” Using these commands to redirect their attention away from strangers and reinforce good behavior will be very helpful. 

5. Provide positive distractions

You can also divert your dog’s attention from foreigners by offering toys or treats. This can help them create a positive association with new people. In addition, when your dog behaves well with strangers, feel free to reward them with their favorite toy or treat.

6. Create a safe space

Another helpful tip is establishing a designated area where your dog feels safe and secure, like a crate or a cozy bed. This space should be a comfortable and familiar place they can go to when they feel anxious or overwhelmed. This helps alleviate their anxiety, as the designated area represents a zone of safety and relaxation. In this secure space, your dog can regain a sense of control over their surroundings, significantly reducing the likelihood of barking.

7. Use calming signals

Calming signals like slow movements, avoiding direct eye contact, and speaking in a soft, reassuring tone can help keep your dog calm and relaxed during encounters with strangers. This way, you’re also boosting your dog’s confidence and trust in you as their owner, creating a stronger and healthier bond.

8. Regular exercise

Ensure your dog gets enough physical and mental exercise. Regular exercise will help release excess energy, reduce anxiety, and make them feel more open. So, take your dog for walks, play fetch, or engage in other physical activities to tire them out.

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9. Visual barriers

When you know you will be in situations where your dog has to encounter strangers, it’s a good idea to use visual barriers such as a partial screen or furniture to limit direct eye contact. This will give them a sense of control and help them feel more comfortable. Over time, as your dog becomes more at ease, you can gradually decrease the use of visual barriers in different scenarios to build their confidence.

10. Professional training

Suppose you can’t fix your dog’s barking problem at home. In that case, you may want to enroll your dog in obedience classes or seek the guidance of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist for specialized assistance. A professional can help you address the specific behaviors and triggers that your dog is experiencing and provide tailored training to overcome the issue.

Recommend online lessons: Basic Obedience Course

How to train your dog to be calm in public

If you want your dog to be confident and calm in public, here are what you should do:

1. Get them used to strangers

Start small, with controlled exposure to strangers and positive reinforcement with treats. Slowly increase the challenge by working towards more crowded settings.

2. Teach your dog to focus on you

Train your dog to look at you when strangers are around. Reward them for good behavior. This will help them trust you and stay calm in unfamiliar situations.

3. Practice makes perfect

Like any skill, your dog needs practice to feel comfortable in public. The more positive experiences they have, the more confident they’ll become.

If you want the most comprehensive approach

Unique tricks to teach your dog

For further training and an all-in-one solution for most behavior problems your dog has now or may have in the future, check out this free online dog training workshop that improves dog-owner relationships and prevents poor behavior like: 

    • Barking
    • Accidents
    • Leash pulling
    • Not coming when called
    • Jumping on people
    • Running out the door
    • Chasing cars or animals
    • Chewing
    • Nipping or biting
    • Begging
    • Getting too excited
    • Ignoring commands

The workshop is conducted by Dr. Alexa Diaz, Ph.D., one of the most respected service dog trainers in the United States, and Eric Presnall, host of the Animal Planet TV show “Who Let the Dogs Out.” It has made life easier for many dog owners. Click here to get it.

About us: Pet Chao is a community for Asian dog breed enthusiasts. Our goal is to keep you and your four-legged friend healthy and happy by providing valuable resources and fostering a like-minded community.

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