How to Stop a Dog From Barking at Strangers

By: David Codr

Published Date: June 8, 2023

stop a dog from barking

For this Brentwood Dog Training session we worked with 1 year-old Pekingese Charlie, sharing tips to stop a dog from barking at strangers.

Knowing that Charlie was primarily an indoor dog who did not go to puppy classes and lives in a home that doesn’t get very many visitors, I arranged to meet him at Clover Park. Anytime you’re dealing with a dog who is anxious or fearful, meeting outside can be very advantageous. The sites, sounds and smells combined with a large outdoor area can distract dogs while also make them feel more comfortable instead of focusing on the person who invaded their home.

At our first meeting Charlie was confused. At times barking like crazy to get me to move away and other times barking like crazy because I was too far away and he wanted the treats I had. Although I was tossing him quite a few treats, I made sure that his guardian managed the distance so that Charlie was not able to reach me. As things progressed, we got closer, but to start, I kept a respectful distance.

We went over how to introduce a clicker and marker word, the importance of rewarding desired behaviors and some other basic dog behavior tips. Once Charlie had settled down, I was able to take him by the leash and lead him around the park for a short walk. The hour went by very quickly.

As LA’s Dog Behavior expert, I have learned that when you deal with fearful or reactive dogs, less is more. The best scenario is to leave the dog wanting more interaction with you versus having had too much.

At our second session, we met outside of his home and once he settled down, I took Charlie for a quick walk down to the end of the block. This really set us up for success as I had his guardians wait at their home so that I could develop a an independent relationship with Charlie.

We covered more dog behavior fundamentals such as hand targeting, how to read dog body language and recognize dog consent. For this session we pushed to almost 90 minutes answering questions and by the end of the session Charlie became irritable, likely due to being overly tired. Even dog behavior specialist sometimes make mistakes. As soon as this happened, we ended the sesison knowing we would work on tips to stop dog barking at strangers in the next visit.

How to Stop a Dog from Barking at Strangers

For our third session, I started off with another walk with just Charlie and myself. When we returned to his home, his guardians had a number of questions that I need to address before we headed outside so that I could show them how to teach a dog to stop barking at people it doesn’t know.

If you have a dog that barks at new people, or a dog that barks at things that it disagrees with, you should definitely check out the free positive dog training video below.

By managing the distance between Charlie and the neighbor, and clicking each time that he looked at her, I was able to start to change his emotional response. Helping a dog feel good about the thing they bark at is a crucial element if you want to teach a dog to stop barking at strangers. Its all too common people try to stop a dog from barking without considering the dog’s emotional state.

The best part of this exercise to stop a dog from barking is how simple it is. This is an easy way to stop dogs from barking at things they are fearful of or disagree with. The key is to go slow. Stopping dog barking doesn’t happen overnight. You need to create a number of scenarios where you control the environment so that the dog feels safe so it can practice not barking at people.

After we finished filming the above positive stop barking video, I coached Charlie’s guardians through the same technique until they were able to achieve the same response. Just like any other skill, the humans will get better the more they practice. They will just need to make sure that they manage the distance so that Charlie does not bark at all. If he does, that is his way of saying they are too close or the person is too intense. When that happens, they need to move away, wait for Charlie to settle down, then practice again at a further distance.

We headed it inside after wrapping up these secrets to stop dog barking so that I could give the guardians some marching orders. I suggested that they practice this exercise in 5 to 10 minute practice sessions a couple of times a week. Again, repeated short, successful practice sessions are crucial.

It would be nice if the guardians could invite a friend or neighbor to come over and help them practice for a couple minutes each session so that they are in control of the other person’s movements. This is better than practicing when out and about as you dont know what the other person will say or do. Creating these stages set ups are really helpful when you want to stop a dog from barking.

His guardians wanted to schedule a follow up in Home Brentwood dog training session in a couple of weeks after they’ve had an opportunity to practice all of the dog behavior tips we shared in the sessions.

I’m looking forward to checking in on Charlie’s progress in a couple of weeks.

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This post was written by: David Codr