How to Keep Dogs From Barking at Company or Strangers

Even a pleasant doggy "hello" may be unwanted by your visitors.
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Dogs are vocal critters, and a loud yap is your pooch’s way of saying a number of things. Barking may mean “hello,” “stay away,” or “I’m excited to see you!” Teach your dog to quiet down to prevent his barks and yips from disturbing the peace.

Step 1

Watch your dog for signs of anxiety or nervousness, such as shaking, whining or hiding behind you. Many dogs bark at company or strangers out of fear or territorial possessiveness, and a few scratches and patient words will calm the dog and stave off barking. If your dog is a food hound, a treat or two will distract him and prevent a whiny pooch.

Step 2

Limit your dog’s field of vision. Dogs often stand at the gate or look out the window and bark when people walk by, and removing this temptation will stop unwanted barking. Rearrange furniture to block access to windows, and go outside with your furry friend to keep him busy.

Step 3

Introduce the dog to a variety of new faces. Clip a leash on his collar and take him for a walk in a people-packed area such as the dog park or pet store. The more friendly faces the dog sees, the less likely he is to bark when new people come over. If the dog seems nervous, ask a couple of people to give the dog a treat and talk to him quietly to show him new people aren’t scary monsters.

Step 4

Teach the dog a “quiet” command. Have a helper stand outside the door and ring the bell. When the dog barks, tell him “quiet” and hold a treat near his nose. As he turns his attention away from the door to sniff the treat, repeat the command and give him the tasty morsel. Wait for another ring, and give the command again. If the dog quiets down and turns to you, give him a treat. If he continues to bark, show him the treat but don’t give it to him until he’s silent.

Step 5

Wear the dog out before company arrives. Take him on a long walk, let him run at the park, or throw his favorite ball to burn off pent-up energy that may lead to excitable barking. The more tired your dog is before a friend drops by, the less likely he’ll be to bark and whine when she rings the doorbell.

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