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How to Train a Labrador Puppy to Bark at Strangers

How to Train a Labrador Puppy to Bark at Strangers
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon3-6 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

Your Lab puppy's barks might not bother you now, but wait until he is full-grown, and they are loud enough to annoy the neighbors several houses away. Rather than having to deal with angry neighbors, you need to take the time to train your pup when it's okay to bark and in doing so teach him that these are the only times he is allowed to bark. Keep in mind that most dogs do not bark just to hear themselves make noise, they bark to communicate, just like we talk. The trick is to make sure your pup understands when it is okay for him to bark and when it is not. In particular, you want him to bark when there are strangers about. 

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Defining Tasks

The basic idea here is to teach your pup that one of the only time it is okay for him to bark is when there is a stranger at your door or outside of your house. There may be other times when you want him to bark on command. This is a very important lesson for your pup to learn as it could save your home from being robbed or someone in your family being injured. The reality is that once you teach your pup to bark on command, he will be able to easily transfer this to barking when there is a stranger about.

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Getting Started

For this, your pup should already have mastered the basic commands of 'sit', 'stay', 'come', and 'down'. This way he already understands that he needs to follow the commands you give him and the training he is undergoing. By training the basics first, your pup will know who is in the Alpha position and will be more likely to follow the rest of your training without a problem.

  • Leash
  • Treats
  • Broomstick
  • A favorite toy
  • A helper

You will also need plenty of time and patience to work with your puppy as he learns what you expect of him and does his best to comply. 

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The You've Got a Friend Method

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1

To the room with you

Start by taking your pup in the area of your home where your front door and doorbell button are located.

2

Add one friend

You need the help of at least one willing volunteer. It can be someone your pup knows or not since they are going to be on the outside anyway.

3

Ring the bell

Start by having your friend come up to the front door and ring the bell. If your pup barks, be sure to praise him and give him a treat. Repeat this several times until your pup will bark every time the doorbell rings.

4

The windows

Next have your friend walk up to one of the windows and start tapping on it. When your pup barks at the noise, give him a treat and praise him.

5

The final plan

The rest is all about having different people follow this pattern over the course of several weeks until your pup will bark any time a stranger comes up to the house as his way of alerting you to their presence.

The Choose the Word Method

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1

Choose your word

Start by choosing your cue or command word. The most commonly used one is simply "speak" as it is easy for both you and your pup to remember.

2

Let frustration set in

Try tying your pup to a table leg using his leash and leave the room, going just around the corner where he can't see you. Call him, chances are that when he realizes he can't get to you, he is going to bark. When he does, hurry back into the room, praise him and give him a treat.

3

Repeat in short bursts

Keep repeating the training in short bursts until your pup barks each time.

4

Introduce the command

Introduce your pup to the 'speak' command and each time he barks in response, praise him and give him a treat.

5

Bring in the stranger

Arrange to have one of your friends that your pup doesn’t know meet you when you are out for a walk. Give your pup the 'speak' command and when he barks at the "stranger", praise him and give him a treat.

6

At the door

Time to work with your pup and strangers knocking on the door or ringing the bell. When the bell is rung, tell your pup to "speak" and reward him when he does. With a little practice, your pup will learn to bark anytime a stranger comes to your door or approaches you during your walks.

The Unexpected Noises Method

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Praise the unexpected

Each time your pup barks at an unexpected noise such as the doorbell, a knock on the door, someone pulling into the driveway, be sure to praise him and give him one of his favorite treats.

2

A big deal

Be sure you make a big deal about finding out what your pup is barking at. Use phrases like "What is it?" or "What do you hear?" while encouraging him to come to the door and see who is there. Keep praising him and letting him know he is doing a good job.

3

Bark when I tell you

If for some reason your pup doesn’t seem to want to bark when someone comes to the door, try using a cue word like "Speak" or "What is it?" The moment he makes the slightest sound, praise him and give him a treat.

4

Be quiet

Be sure to use the 'quiet' command to get him to stop barking. Again, praise him when he complies.

5

Practice makes perfect

Keep practicing with your pup every chance you get. Encourage him to bark when someone comes to the door and then to stop upon command. Remember consistency builds success, so be patient, be consistent and be successful.

By PB Getz

Published: 03/16/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Tiger

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Labrador Retriever

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2 Months

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Question

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He not barking and not making any sound

Jan. 1, 2021

Tiger's Owner

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Darlene Stott - Dog Trainer and Groomer

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104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, you are trying to train Tiger to become a barker? I would suggest that you call on a trainer in your area. This will ensure that little Tiger is taught the correct rules when it comes to barking, and does not bark at every little movement. In the meantime, take a look at this guide to teach a dog to "speak" on command. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-rottweiler-to-speak. Teach the command with positive training, rewarding for success. Work on training Tiger with consistency and clarity. Make sure that you always use the same command, whether it be "speak" or "bark". When other family members work with him, use the same command. End on a positive note and offer high praise and a yummy treat when he has success. Good luck!

Jan. 5, 2021

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RILEY

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Labrador cross

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8 Months

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Question

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He barks at Monkeys/birds but not at Strangers. In fact, he's very good to strangers. He wants attention from them. But I need him to bark at them.

Nov. 19, 2020

RILEY's Owner

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Darlene Stott - Dog Trainer and Groomer

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104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, you can work on the Speak command with Riley to make him more alert as described here: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-to-speak. Read the entire guide as all of the methods are good. It's best to be able to turn off the barking as well, as taught here in the Quiet Method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark. Remember to still socialize Riley, so that he can go anywhere you want to take him and behave nicely while there. Taking him to obedience training classes is ideal - he'll learn basic commands, know how to socialize with dogs and people, and form an excellent bond with you. Good luck and all the best to Riley!

Nov. 23, 2020


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