Some dogs are more vocal than others, but one thing is for certain: no one likes it when their dog barks after they hear someone innocently walking by your house. Because how dare someone enjoy the outside, right? Training your dog not to bark at the outside world isn’t easy, but if you have patience, it can be done.
Things to Remember:
Before we jump into things, always remember to keep these tips in mind while training:
- Don’t yell at your dog to be quiet—it just sounds like you’re barking along with them
- Keep your training “pawsitive” and upbeat
- Be consistent so you don’t confuse your dog
Tip 1: Figure Out Why Your Dog Is Barking
To stop a bad behavior, you must first know the cause of it. Some dogs bark at everything — it’s in their breed and can be impossible to fully train out of them. Others just like to talk. Some may think they’re greeting the outside world, instead of yelling at them.
The bottom line is that dogs bark for many, many reasons. All of their barks mean different things too. For example, your dog may go wild when the mailman approaches your door and hears the metal clang of letters being dropped in the box. They can also bark a lot when you or a family member approaches the door, but their message is wildly different. They may show aggression towards the mailman, but be jumping and wagging their tail at you.
Take note of their body language and learn what is a greeting and what is territorial. Knowing the difference will help you train them!
Tip 2: Remove the Motivation (Works for Greeting You and Strangers!)
If your dog likes to bark and jump on you as a form of greeting, remove their motivation to do so. We don’t mean to not come home, but we do mean to not pet them or acknowledge them until they calm down. If this doesn’t work, command your dog to sit and wait until you’ve taken off your shoes before showering them with affection. This will affirm the polite greeting habit.
As for strangers and passersby, the best thing to do is to not give your dog an opportunity to continue their barking. If they bark at people or animals passing by the living room window, manage the behavior by closing the curtains or putting your dog in another room.
If your dog is outside and they start barking at another person or animal, bring your pup back inside. They will slowly begin to relate the two actions and realize that barking = no more outside time.
If they hear the person and bark anyway, give them a toy as a distraction or ask for incompatible behavior (tip 4).
Tip 3: Desensitize Your Dog
It’s like this: we all get nervous at new things and experiences, right? But the more we do them, the less we’re bothered by them. Your dog is the same way. The more they’re exposed to situations that cause them to bark, the less likely they will be to bark at them.
Gradually get your dog accustomed to whatever is causing them to bark. Start with whatever is making them bark at a safe distance. It can be a person standing by the house, closing a metal door, or dropping “mail” into your mailbox. It has to be far enough away where your pup doesn’t feel threatened by it. Feed them plenty of treats when they don’t react.
Get them used to the sound or sight of their trigger, before bringing them (or it) closer. Feed treats again when they don’t react. If they do react, give them some time to calm down before you try again. Repeat this until you’re as close as you can be. If your dog needs a break, give them a break and try again tomorrow.
At first, this can be a little upsetting to your dog. Make sure they know they’re safe and loved. Be extra patient with them! Desensitization won’t happen overnight.
Tip 4: Ask your Dog for an Incompatible Behavior
This is a favorite of ours, but can be difficult to get right so your dog doesn’t bark when they want to do the incompatible behavior. For example, some dogs are trained to go brag a blanket or their favorite toy whenever the doorbell rings. Those same dogs also like to bring you their blanket and toy whenever they hear a doorbell on TV.
Here’s how you do it: when your dog starts barking, ask them to do something that’s incompatible with barking. Ask them to sit, or to go to their “place” (which may be their crate or bed), or ask them to bring you their favorite toy.
We do not recommend involving treats, though. Dogs will associate barking with treat, meaning they’ll think they get treats by barking. It’s positive reinforcement to bad behaviors. That being said, you can reward them for sitting, laying down, or fetching their toy, assuming they do it quietly.
You can pair this tip with desentization for the best impact!
Tip 5: Get Out Their Energy
Some dogs don’t know what to do with all of their energy, so they channel into not-so-welcome behaviors like barking. If you tire your dog out before the mail comes, or before company comes over, then they may just sleep right through it!
And that’s it! Remember, have patience and be consistent. We believe in you and your pup!