Barking is your dog’s way of communicating. It is for him as normal as talking. The problem with dogs, however, is that they scare people off by barking nonstop. Strangers are more commonly the victim, particularly the ones who innocently pass by the street or visitors unrecognized by your pet. If you don’t want to piss people off, or frighten them at the most, you can do the following tips to stop your dog from barking at strangers.
- Understand that the dog barks probably because of fear. A dog barks for a number of reasons. But when a dog barks when approached by a stranger, it most certainly because he is afraid. This is especially true if the dog is not used to being around strangers. So the goal here is to make him more sociable, and you can do this by bringing him out of the house at least once daily. On a leash, walk him around the neighborhood or wherever there are lots of people. Be careful, though, as the first time you do this, the dog might get agitated and bark even more. So don’t come too close to people. Keep a considerable distance until the dog is comfortable seeing strangers.
- Demonstrate friendliness to people. Dogs bark in defense of their owner. They bark to warn that some stranger, who to them is a potential enemy, is approaching. In this case, you have to reverse the dog’s attitude toward strangers by acting nice and friendly to them. When you show the dog that the stranger is not an enemy, he will most likely calm and stop outrageously barking.
- Find out if the dog is bored. In some cases, the dog barks because of unbelievable boredom. Barking to him is a kind of diversion. If this is the case, you need to give him some entertainment, like a game, a walk in the park, a treat, or a new toy.
- Distract the dog. When a stranger is approaching, give your dog some distractions. A treat, for instance. As the stranger comes near, call your dog’s attention, ask him to sit, and show him the treat. He will most likely busy himself with the treat and give no attention to the stranger. In place of a treat, you can also use his favorite toy.
- Tell the dog to stop. If all the distractions you have given the dog do nothing to stop him from barking, there’s probably one thing that can effectively do it—your stern, authoritative voice. Just say “Stop,” “Enough,” or “No.” Or call out his name. Say it convincingly firm, like you really mean business. The dog will certainly stop, wag his tail, go to your direction, push his head toward you, probably meaning to say sorry. If he stops, give him a treat, pat his head, or do anything to mean you appreciate his obedience. But if the dog keeps on barking, bring him to a place where he can’t see the stranger and talk to him. Believe it, he knows you don’t like the way he’s acting and might behave next time.
It will be a little hard at first. Dogs, like kids, need some time to learn new things. But please be patient. In time, your hard work will pay off.