How to Train Your Dog to Bark at Intruders

Medium
1-2 Weeks
Work

Introduction

You’re lying in bed at night when you hear a faint and peculiar sound coming from downstairs. You quickly wake up your partner and beg them to go downstairs and check. Thankfully, they return two minutes later holding the bedside lamp. All is clear, you can sleep easy again. There is a quick and easy solution to fears about intruders though, and that’s to train your dog to bark at them. If he barks when intruders approach the door, you will always be quickly alerted and it will also act as a pretty effective deterrent.

If you have children, valuable possessions, and cars then a barking dog can come in very handy. Studies have found dogs are the biggest burglary deterrents, so if you can train him to bark at any intruder, you can sleep peacefully every night.

Defining Tasks

The good news is training your dog to bark at intruders is surprisingly straightforward. It is achieved by teaching him obedience commands so he barks on cue, but also so that certain situations will trigger a bark too. You will need to manage their environment so they can notice intruders swiftly and respond appropriately. If your dog is a puppy, he will respond to training in as little as a few days. If your dog is older and spent many years without using his voice, then he may need a little while longer to catch on.

Getting this training right could be essential for keeping your home and family safe and sound. Every year, homes are successfully protected by dogs and nothing puts the fear of God into intruders more than a chilling bark.

Getting Started

Before you bring the roof down with your barking dog, you will need to get together a few bits and pieces. His favorite food or a selection of treats will play an important role in training, as they will be used to incentivize and reward him.

You will also need a quiet place, free from distractions to train and probably somewhere that isn’t going to make you your neighbors’ arch enemy. You will also need some brave volunteers who are unknown to your dog to test the efficacy of the training.

Once you have all of that, just set aside 10 minutes a day for the next couple of weeks and come with a can-do attitude.

The Bark on Command Method

Most Recommended
3 Votes
Bark on Command method for Bark at Intruders
Step
1
Set the stage
Secure your dog to a leash and a fence in the back yard. Then head out there with some treats in hand and his favorite toy to get him excited. Before you can train him to bark at intruders he needs to be able to bark on command.
Step
2
Get him excited
Play with his favorite toy in front of him to get his attention. Play close attention to his body language, you are looking out for signs that he is about to bark.
Step
3
Anticipate the bark
Just before you think he will bark, say ‘speak’. Then as soon as he does bark give him a treat and reward him with praise. Practice this for 10 minutes each day and then have him bark without having to wind him up with a toy in the first place.
Step
4
Add a trigger
Now leash your dog near the door and have a friend or someone approach the door. As soon as the person gets close to the door give him the ‘speak’ command. Once he does start barking, be sure to reward him with a treat and praise him.
Step
5
Practice
Keep practicing this whenever someone unknown comes to the door. It is important you don’t give him the cue to bark when a family member approaches the house otherwise he will bark at anyone that approaches. As he gets the hang of training, he will soon learn to bark at strangers without you having to give the command. When this happens, you can slowly reduce the frequency of treats.
Recommend training method?

The Bark and Run Method

Effective
3 Votes
Bark and Run method for Bark at Intruders
Step
1
Timing
Put your dog in a situation in the house that he usually barks at. It could be just before you take him out for a walk or when you prepare his meal. This is because the first thing you need to do is train him to bark on your command.
Step
2
Add the command
As soon as he barks, say ‘speak’ and give him a treat and reward him. Practice this for 10 minutes each day and begin to say ‘speak’ before he barks. As he gets the hang of training, practice instructing him to bark even when he isn’t in a situation he usually barks at.
Step
3
Establish his turf
Before you can train him to bark at intruders he needs to feel like the entrances are his to protect. You can do this by simply moving his bed and toys into those areas and ensuring he has freedom to go there at night.
Step
4
Cue the intruder
Now have an unknown person approach the house. Instruct him to bark and then have the volunteer to shout and run away. It is important the pretend intruder yelps and runs, this will signal to the dog he needs to bark at an intruder until they go away.
Step
5
Reward and reinforce
Give him a treat and shower him with praise as soon as the person runs away. This will reinforce precisely the behavior and result you want. Practice this with someone different each day for a week. If he can smell the same person he will know they aren’t an intruder and the training will stall. Eventually, you will no longer need to instruct him to bark or reward him with a treat, it will become a habit and natural that he wants to defend his territory.
Recommend training method?

The Boundaries and Quiet Method

Least Recommended
3 Votes
Boundaries and Quiet method for Bark at Intruders
Step
1
Establish a perimeter
Put him on a leash and walk him around the perimeter of your home/area you want him to protect. It is important he is aware of where his territory ends and at what point someone becomes an intruder. Do this everyday, once or twice for a couple of weeks.
Step
2
Trigger barking
Purposely put him in a situation where he will bark. This could be when you play with his favorite toy or when it is time for a walk. You are going to do this so you can teach him when to stop barking. This will ensure he doesn’t bark at people he knows and that he stops barking when the intruder has run away.
Step
3
Add a 'stop' command
When in a bark inducing situation, wait patiently for him to stop barking. As soon as he stops barking say, ‘stop’, give him a treat and then praise him. It is important this happens as soon as he goes silent otherwise he won’t associate being quiet with the treat. Practice this everyday until you can issue the ‘stop’ command and he falls silent even without the promise of food.
Step
4
Allow certain barking
now knows where his territory is and will naturally want to defend it. Be sure you emphasize to him barking at people he doesn’t know is the right behavior.
Step
5
Stop unwanted barking
When he barks at people he does know, such as family and friends, issue the ‘stop’ command. You will need to use a combination of praising for barking and the ‘stop’ command for a week or two until he learns to only bark at the smell, sight and sound of people he doesn’t know. It isn’t a straightforward ask to bark at intruders, so be patient and consistent with the training and you will see results in a matter of weeks.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Cocoa
AnimalBreed object
6 Years
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Question
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Cocoa
AnimalBreed object
6 Years

My room mate untrained my dog to bark at any noise including the gate and chain link fence sounds and also knocks on doors or house. How can I undo what he did? I want her to bark at every noise. I live in a bad neighborhood and need her to bark at everything even when she is inside.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
673 Dog owners recommended

Hello Shannon, Find something that she will bark at, like a recording of other dogs, the doorbell, a siren, a cat, or anything else. Use that thing to trigger her barking. While she is barking, excitedly tell her to "Speak!" or a similar word you would like to use when she sees people later, such as "Alert!". As she is barking, praise her and reward her with a treat. Practice triggering the barking while telling her to "Speak!" and rewarding and praising her until she will bark when you say "Speak" without the trigger, like the doorbell, present. When she has learned to "Speak!", then whenever she sees people somewhere that you would like for her to bark at, like out your window or at your door, command "Speak!" and reward with a treat. Recruit people to be in that area frequently so that you can practice this often, if you don't have enough people present to practice this very often. Practice this so often that she begins to bark before you give the "Speak!" command. When she does so, reward her with five treats, one treat a time. At that point, wait until she barks on her own before you reward her. If she doesn't bark within seven seconds of seeing a person, give her a hint though and tell her to "Speak!", then reward with one treat. Eventually if you practice this and reward her barking at people automatically she should offer the behavior and bark at people on her own in hopes of getting a treat. Once she is doing that you can give less and less treats overtime and use praise and other rewards like a toy, instead. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Diesel
AnimalBreed object
18 Weeks
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Diesel
AnimalBreed object
18 Weeks

So my dog recently went into two other dogs yard and was bitten but he is okay now but I want to teach him to respect other dogs territory and to protect his because a couple days ago we had an unwanted guest that just walked into our house and I wasn’t here to protect so I figured he would but my mom told me that he didn’t even bother to bark when they entered. And also when we are in the yard playing he likes to run out in the road at joggers and walking neighbors which is okay with them but I do not want him doing so because it will look like an attack when he gets bigger. I mean who wants a giant dog running at them full speed? So if I could train him to do those things and to stop digging up our garden and our neighbor’s then he would be the perfect companion. Thanks for your time and I hope you write back!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
673 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I sounds like pup is being given too much freedom right now, before they have been trained to handle it and it not cause behavior issues. At this age, pup either needs to be with you on a 6 foot leash, on a long 20'-50' training leash with you, in a fence, or inside. Pup needs boundary training and off leash obedience before they can be given off leash privileges Check out the Recruit Friends method from the article linked below, and begin by teaching pup to stay inside your property boundaries. https://wagwalking.com/training/stay-in-an-unfenced-yard Start working on a reliable Come. Check out the Reel In method from the article linked below. Reel In method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall You can also practice walking around places like your yard or a field and changing directions frequently without saying anything with pup on a 20'40'non-retractable training leash. Whenever he takes notice (at first because the leash finally tugs, but later just because you moved), then toss a treat at him for looking your way or coming over to you - without calling him; this encourages him to choose to pay attention to where you are and associate your presence with good things on his own, so he will want to be with you. For the protection, spend a lot of time socializing pup around people - it may sound counter-intuitive but you want pup to learn what is normal human behavior and body language to better help them recognize what is aggressive or suspicious behavior in people too. At 18 weeks very few puppies would have shown any protection instinct. Any natural instinct of that natural typically develops between 1-2 years as mental maturity and certain hormones change (even in neutered dogs). You may find yourself never needing to teach pup anything other than good obedience and socialization, and pup may protect naturally when its needed. If you do find that pup is too accepting, then once they have obedience and socialization in place, you can begin formal protection training once pup is a bit older - which is based on pup having great obedience and great socialization, and learning through positive reinforcement via bite work how to handle aggressors. This type of training should only be done under the supervision and direction of a professional trainer because if it's done wrong it can be a huge liability and lead to fear biting, not just intruders but guests, family, and friends. To be accepted for this type of training, pup generally needs to be well socialized so that they can tell when someone is acting normal and safe vs. not though - so be sure to expose pup to a lot of people in a positive way while young. For the garden digging, pup needs more supervision, to learn the Leave It and Out commands, and if it's one specific area, look into outdoor pet barrier devices, designed to be set up in areas you want to deter pup from. Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Goose
AnimalBreed object
1 Year
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Goose
AnimalBreed object
1 Year

How can I train my dog to speak if he very rarely barks at all so we can't mark the behavior? He will bark at the door if someone knocks once in a while, but not every time. I do reward him when he does it, but it doesn't seem to happen often enough for the reinforcement to click for him. He's a very quiet dog, and very rarely barks or whines at all.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
673 Dog owners recommended

Hello Laura, Check out the article linked below. I would utilize all three methods to speed up the training as much as possible - knowing that this will take pup longer in general since he is quieter, but using all three methods will help the process go faster than using just one method. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-to-speak If pup play growls while doing tug of war, you can also teach pup to growl on command using tugs to initiate the growls - then rewarding. If your goal is for pup to intimidate, or alerting in a more subtle way is acceptable, then a growl could be a substitute for barking in those situations. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Sierra
AnimalBreed object
2 Years
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Sierra
AnimalBreed object
2 Years

Sierra barks crazy at everyone that passes by or comes to the door. with quarantine there is much more activity between the mailman, deliveries and neighbors walking their dogs. I do want her to protect our home and alert us when there is an intruder but it is scary for anyone approaching the door. as they are not aware she is harmless. The mailman has flagged her as an aggressive dog. Do I try to stop this behavior? will she stop alerting us when there is an intruder? my boyfriend and I cannot agree on this as he feels she is doing her job and gets upset that people think she is aggressive

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
85 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I think if you train Sierra to perform an action such as Wait on Mat or Place when you want her to wait quietly as you answer the door, she'll still alert you to an intruder. Every type of dog, whether companion or helpmate needs obedience first and an understanding that listening to you first and foremost is essential. The Wait on Mat Method is described here: https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-visitors-calmly. General obedience is also very important, so that Sierra obeys you in every situation, which keeps her and others safe. Consider dog training classes to keep her well socialized with people. There are great tips here: https://wagwalking.com/training/obedience-train-a-great-dane. This site also has excellent videos and the chance to consult a trainer. https://robertcabral.com/ Good luck and enjoy the training!

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