Dogs bark at strangers for several reasons. One of my client’s huskies wouldn’t like the sight of strangers entering their home.
In my experience, huskies bark a lot, often for small things, but the circumstances of his case were somewhat unusual.
One may wonder that the dog breed isn’t remotely interested in doing watchdog jobs, but this one was peculiar.
On enquiring, I found out that he had a turbulent past. The previous owners were abusive and that had transgressed into his personality. He didn’t like strange humans near it.
How to stop dogs from barking at strangers, especially ones like that Husky? Here’s how I did that and you could follow suit to familiarize your dog with people.
- Socialize your dog in puppyhood
- Train the dog by familiarizing it with the presence of humans
- Use positive reinforcement to carve the routine into its brain
- Teach alternative behavior to your dog
- Keep max distance when outdoors
- Use a shock collar
I have also written another blog on how to stop your dog from barking at other dogs, so if your dog has a behavior like that, make sure to read that blog.
6 Ways To Stop Your Dog From Barking At Strangers
Know workable solutions from the list below!
1. Socialize The Dog In Puppyhood
This method was lost on the husky. He was a 2-year-old dog with a clear deviation in his personality. Had he been socialized in his puppyhood, he wouldn’t have been aggressive toward strangers.
I agree that most of his problems arose from his negative experience of humans with the previous owners.
Whenever I get to train a puppy, socializing with other dogs and humans is my number one priority. Walking comes second.
Mind you, however, that you should start training the pooch as such after 4 months when the vaccination has been completed.
- Throw small dog parties but make sure that the other dogs are vaccinated.
- Take your friend’s onboard and tell them to pay attention to your puppy to help it get familiar with other humans’ touch.
- Don’t rush things. Go with puppy speed.
- Reward your dog each time it accepts other dogs or humans.
- Make sure none of the dogs in the party have aggressive undertones to their behaviors. That would backfire.
- You should see if any dog is trying to subdue the puppy. Kick it out immediately.
Also read: Do Pitbulls bark a lot?
2. Bring Humans Near One Step At A Time
Since the husky was a grown-up dog, I had to use other methods. The foremost that worked was bringing strangers closer to it one step at a time.
I had asked a few of my friends to help me with this one and they had obliged. On the first day, I stationed one of them at a safe distance but enough for the dog to start its barking spree.
For the next two weeks, I brought him nearer a step to the dog.
My friend would stay there until the dog would stop barking. That was the cue that he had either tired away or had accepted his presence.
In two weeks, my friend was near enough to pet the dog and he accepted it with a whine.
- Make sure that the person you’re requesting knows what you’re up to.
- There should be no provocation by that person.
- Listen closely to your dog’s vocal cues and watch its movements.
- If the dog is too aggressive, make sure that it’s on a leash to prevent any mishappenings.
- Feed the dog its favorite treats when it stops barking at the stranger.
3. Use Positive Reinforcement
Each dog has its liking. Some like treats more than games, while others would like to be rewarded with a game of tug of war.
The husky I trained loved treats. I used to give him plenty of those whenever he would play by my rules. That’s how you cultivate a routine in the mind of a dog.
The treat is a reward that tells the dog that if it keeps on doing whatever it just did, it will receive the treat.
- Keep treats in your hand during the training session.
- Feed the dog only when it stops barking at strangers.
- Show it the treats to make it understand that you’ll only give them if it obeys.
- Alternate treats with your dog’s favorite games to keep the cycle going on.
4. Teach Distractive Cue To Your Dog
Distracting the dog when the stimulus approaches is my favorite thing. It helps me and the dog be on the same page right before it shows the undesired behavior. With the husky, the command was “sit”.
I used it whenever a stranger or another dog approached. This combined with maintaining a safe distance helped a lot in minimizing barking when the dog would see a stranger approaching.
- Practice with the cue indoors until the dog learns it well.
- The dog should have a near-perfect recall of the cue.
- Feed it treats to make sure that it understands that you want it to follow the cue when required.
- Try creating a few outdoor-like scenarios around your house to see if things go well.
- Do not try to mix this cue with other ones or else the dog may end up confused and agitated.
Also read: Do Yorkies bark a lot?
5. Keep Away From Strangers Outdoors
It may not be possible to keep away from people when you’re walking the dog outside, but you have to try. When I was walk-training the husky, I asked the owner to help me choose a track with fewer people.
There were still some people on the way and when they’d appear, I’d take the dog away from them at a safe distance. This way not only the dog would sense a decrease in the risk but the people were kept safe also.
I’d also try to see if the recall worked when someone would approach. For that, I’ll try to distract the dog with the cue I had taught him. For example, “sit” was the distractive command.
With people approaching, I’ll make him sit between my legs and feed him all the treats. I also had to do it multiple times with the owner after the dog learned the initial pathways.
- Do not walk the dog at a faster pace when trying out this method.
- Make sure to communicate what you’re doing to the approaching stranger.
- Better yet, take help from your friends after choosing a track where there aren’t many people.
- Don’t follow this method if the dog hasn’t learned any distraction cues.
- Take its favorite toy with you in case you want to release its energy by letting it pull on it.
6. Use A Shock Collar To Get Things Right
The methods I taught you above do work but sometimes the dog behaves like a cat. It doesn’t care about the recall and you may be left with an animal that’s barking its heart out for no reason.
Dogs like that are stubborn. To get them to follow your command, you need an extra something – a stimulation right under the dog’s muzzle.
I recommend shock collars or bark collars with three stimulation types: Vibration, beep, and shock. The third and the last stimulation should be only reserved for unruly dogs that do not bat an eye at the first two.
However, make sure that you read the manual thoroughly before using this device. Unnecessary and ill-informed usage could worsen your relationship with it.
- Shock collars are only humane when you use them the way they should be.
- Before putting it on the dog, check the intensity of the stimulation on your hand or arm.
- Change the position of the collar after every two days and see if the prongs are not damaging the skin in any way.
- Listen to the dog’s reaction to the collar to see if things are going well.
- Do not use the device to “punish” the dog.
- Use the device to get the desired recall. For example, if a dog is ignoring the distraction cue when a stranger approaches, stimulate it with the collar. The slight discomfort alone will make it listen to you.
- To discourage the dog from becoming collar smart, buy a product with a remote capable of blind operation.
Frequently Asked Questions By Readers
Let me add some faqs to make the topic easier for my blog readers and understand the barking behavior of dogs toward strangers.
What Does It Mean When A Dog Barks At A Stranger?
Your dog may bark at a stranger because of its watchdog mode. It may see the stranger as a threat to you or itself. Some dogs bark because they want attention. They may want to bond with the person. Growling combined with barking is always a sign of a warning. You may also want to see if the dog pulls away from you at the stranger.
Why Do Dogs Bark At Some Strangers And Not Others?
Dogs may find some people more inviting than others. They do not bark at intimidating personalities or they may do. That’s up to the individual dog’s personality. As I said above, the barking may also be an indication of friendliness toward the stranger. To understand why your dog barks at some people and not others, you may want to dive deeper into its routine.
You could stop your dog from barking at strangers by using one of the methods I shared above or all of them in order. However, remember that the animal cannot stay quiet at all times.
They are dogs and barking is a dog thing. That’s how they communicate. Therein lie the reasons for their behavior.