Barking dogs not just makes neighbors frustrated but even the pet parents. Whenever they detect a stranger nearby the pup starts to bark. This behavior can sometimes embarrass the owner when they take the pup for a walk. How will you train dog not to bark at strangers? First, let’s understand why a dog growls at guests, visitors, other dogs, or outsiders.
Why dog barks?
Some come reasons why dogs bark at outsiders or strangers include –
Dogs are territorial
Territorial behavior is a survival instinct. It includes hoarding resources [toys, food, and things they value] and guarding territory. It is an action that is engrained in canines for centuries as these resources enhance their survival odds. It is a natural behavior but it worries the pet owners.
A protective stance is a blessing but is not when the dog tries to protect its parent when a person is just saying hello or giving a hug. Excessive protectiveness or aggressive behavior to protect its owner from strangers can even compel the dog to bite. Some owners are responsible to nurture and overprotective behavior because they reward it.
For example – when a dog growls at an approaching stranger the unfamiliar person stops and moves in the opposite direction. The dog’s growl is rewarded with strangers leaving. After some days the same thing occurs but this time the stranger gets close, so the dog turns aggressive and growls showing its pearly white teeth. The stranger moves away. This time the dog learned that it needs to act aggressively to avert strangers. It soon turns into a habit and the owner ignores this as a trait. Some owners feel proud about their dog’s overprotective behavior but they miss some crucial things that the dog is feeling insecure about and react negatively all of a sudden.
Lack of socialization
Without socializing, dogs tend to become fearful and anxious about anything unfamiliar. It can jump on strangers or nip kids or cower when a large dog confronts it. Lack of socialization can trigger edgy or aggressive behavior. Unsocialized pup barks or growls at new animals or people, which leads to bad-mannered introduction.
A dog fears because of multiple reasons like genetics. A timid dog produces skittish offspring and generally fears unfamiliar faces. Lack of socialization develops fear towards unknown situations. Some dogs experience abuse history, so they fear strangers
Now, you are aware of why your dog barks at unfamiliar creatures. It is time to train your pup to behave calmly around strangers.
How to train your dog not to bark at strangers or unfamiliar situations?
It is helpful to manage anxious behavior and relieve its stress to some level. Fear of unfamiliar people or animals can lead to aggressive behavior like growling, snapping, barking, and biting. A territorial dog experiences a high anxiety level. You can start teaching basic obedience skills of handling the tense situation. It means to train them to come whenever you call. Work this behavior in your backyard using a long leash.
Teach them nothing is for free
After your pet has developed strong recall skills, it is time to make the nest move. Nothing is free in life – he needs to learn this. The training is reward-based, where your pup needs to work for treats or food, they adore. It will teach the dog that they are entitled to treats only if they behave as asked. For example, if some guests are going to visit have some treats close by. Ensure that the visitor ignores the dog’s presence. You can toss a treat gently on the floor. Consistently applying this method will indicate to your barking and anxious pup to connect strangers with treats.
Ignore bad behavior
Make dog realize that he has to earn the treat but if it jumps or barks at a stranger don’t offer rewards. Take help from a friend and practice this. Choose a friend who is a stranger to your dog. Tell him/her to not pay attention or make eye contact with the pup when it is jumping and barking. The moment your pup settles down and stops bad behavior allows the stranger to give a treat. Soon your dog will feel cozy with this process and start behaving well before unfamiliar people. Increase the number of treats every time they behave respectfully towards strangers.
Socialize dog safely
Dog socialization means preparing your pup to behave better when they are amongst unfamiliar animals and people. In the socialization process, the pup spends time with new kids and pets. It helps him to feel more comfortable around such kinds of situations. Go for walks, so he gets exposed to new sounds, smells, sights, animals, and strangers. It even burns its nervous energy and makes it feel calm. If it acts anxious then offer a treat or toy that never scold or tug its leash.
If your dog belongs to a large breed then use a muzzle to avoid unfortunate incidents in case it turns aggressive. When the dog watches you and other people communicating calmly, it can pick human moods and develop positive memories.
Take your pup to a dog park, so it gets acclimatized with other pet dogs and people. Never take your dog inside right away but start walking around the park perimeter for several days. Allow your pup to watch other dogs from far. Gradually, let it interact with fellow pups. Offer treat whenever it behaves in a friendly way. If it responds aggressively or fearfully move it in the opposite direction. Ignore its bad behavior because if you act abnormal this will support its fear. Be calm and relaxed! It shows that there is nothing to dread or panic about.
If the pup finds it hard to understand that they must not bark at strangers then show them there is no reward. Turn around instantly and walk in opposite direction. It reveals to them that if it continues barking at strangers there is no reward. Offer a treat after they learn to stop barking successfully. To teach your pup that barking to strangers does not make it acquire the treat it seeks will take time and consistent repetition.
It is another helpful way to keep the pup from growling at approaching animals or people. As soon as, your pup starts barking causes a distraction with noise. You can use a clicker or snap your fingers or jangle car keys. The pup will soon stop barking and now will pay attention to what you say. Instruct them to sit and stay calm. Ensure to give a treat every time they are distracted successfully.
Sit down and stay calm
Training your dog not to growl at unfamiliar creatures approaching is challenging but not impossible. After this obedience training, you will need to teach how to sit down graciously, when strangers greet them. Practice this before a stranger and instruct your pup to sit. If the command is adhered to calmly then offer a reward. If it doesn’t, correct them by not offering the reward it expects. Refrain from giving a treat until they do it right.
Buy items to address dog anxiety
Several puzzle toys, long-lasting chew toys, compression shirts, and calming collars are helpful to train dogs to reduce their high anxiety level.
Shift dog’s perception about unfamiliar situations
Training specific behavior will help build confidence as well as instill better behavior around unknown people and strange situations. Exposing the pup to situations that scare it and rewarded with good behavior will soon change its perception and start feeling safe and comfortable in every kind of situation.