How to Train a Labrador to Bark at Strangers

Medium
3-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Your Lab doesn't bark just to hear himself make noise. They bark to talk to other dogs, to alert you to potential danger, because they are scared or frustrated, and for any number of perfectly good reasons. One of these is to bark whenever strangers are around the outside of your home. But, there is good barking and bad barking. Your job is to bring out this natural behavior and train him to when it is appropriate to bark and when he needs to be quiet. 

Defining Tasks

The task is to teach your Lab to bark on command rather than going off on barking jags whenever he feels like it. Your pup barks for a number of reasons, such as to tell you he needs to go outside, he needs food or water, he is scared, and when he feels the need to warn you about something he perceives as a danger to himself of the rest of the pack. The hard part is for you to be able to determine why he is barking and then take this knowledge into account when you train him to bark... or not to bark.

Getting Started

You can start training your pup to bark on command as soon as he is old enough to have been taught the basic commands of 'come', 'sit', 'down', and 'stay'. This lets him know who the alpha in the pack is and that he is going to be expected to master a number of commands. Along with letting your pup know who is the boss, it puts him in the mood to learn. Here is a list of supplies you might find come in handy.

  • An assistant
  • Treats
  • Leash
  • A tree
  • A long stick or pole
  • Toys

The other things you need are plenty of time and patience. It is going to take plenty of both by the time you get your pup fully trained to bark on command. 

The Grab the Toy Method

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Step
1
Favorite toys
For this you need one of your pup's favorite toys, a length of string, and a broom handle or strong stick of about the same length. You also need plenty of treats.
Step
2
One the leash again
Put your pup on his leash and head out into your backyard. Using a tree or a fence pole, to tie the other end to. Keep in mind, you should never leave your pup unattended when he is tied up.
Step
3
Create the lure
Tie the toy to the broom handle using the length of string. Keep the string just long enough, you can use the toy as a lure for your pup.
Step
4
Here, catch this
Take the pole and tease your pup with the hanging toy. Do this until your pup decides he has had enough and barks. He is only going to bark once, so you need to be paying close attention. When he does, (the moment he does) be sure to praise him and let him chew on the toy for a few minutes.
Step
5
Speak to me
The time has come to add in your cue word, "Speak" is a good one as it is different from any other command. When your pup lunges for the toy and looks like he is getting ready to bark, say "speak" and reward him when he barks.
Step
6
Keep working at it
The rest is all about practicing with your pup until he will bark any time you give him the cue "speak." Mission accomplished.
Recommend training method?

The It Takes a Friend Method

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Step
1
Everyone needs a friend
This is especially true when you are trying to teach your pup to bark.
Step
2
In the room
Bring your pup in the same room with you, but don't fuss over him, just keep an eye on him.
Step
3
Ring the bell
This is the point in time where your helper rings the doorbell, causing your furry friend to bark. When he does, be sure to praise him and give him a treat. Repeat this every couple of minutes to get your pup used to barking at the noise.
Step
4
Workin' for a living
Keep working with your pup adding in the "speak" command as he gets ready to bark. This helps him associate the command with the action and the reward he gets at the end.
Step
5
No more bell
Now it's time to see if he has it all figured out. Try giving your pup the command without the doorbell ringing. If he barks, be sure to praise and reward him with a treat. At this point there nothing left to do but keep practicing this trick and amaze your friends and neighbors.
Recommend training method?

The Too Much Excitement Method

Effective
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Step
1
Rev up your pup
Take your pooch out in the backyard and spend at least half an hour playing with him. Keep the play fast-paced and stimulating, you want your pup to be very excited.
Step
2
Hide the treat
Take one of your pup's favorite smelly treats, place it on the open palm of your hand and let your pup get a good whiff of it. Close your hand over the treat and hold it behind your back out of sight.
Step
3
One is the loneliest number
It won't take long before your pup can't stand the fact you are hiding his treat. At this point he is going to bark. It may be just one bark at first, but this is the one you need to catch. The moment he barks, give him the treat and praise him for a job well done.
Step
4
You bark, I treat
Keep working on the training for a few weeks until your pup realizes that when he barks on command he gets a treat. Timing is everything and you need to catch your pooch just as he is getting ready to bark to make this training more effective.
Step
5
Do what I say not what I do
It's time for you to add the "speak" command to the process. Keep a close eye on your pup and the moment he looks like he wants to bark, give him the command. Keep working on this training until your pup comes to understand that when you say "speak", he needs to bark.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Baloo
Labrador Retriever
16 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Baloo
Labrador Retriever
16 Months

Want to teach my dog to bark at strangers

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
708 Dog owners recommended

Hello Neeman, To teach pup to bark and be more alert, first, teach pup the Speak command. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-to-speak Once pup knows the speak command, recruit friends pup doesn't know to step onto the property or approach you (depending on when you want pup to bark at strangers) while pup watches from a window or fence or your side. Command speak and reward with a treat when they do. Practice with telling pup to speak each time the person approaches, until pup barks on their own when the person nears without saying speak. At that point, have the person step onto the property or come your direction, wait seven seconds to see if pup will bark on their own, reward if they do, and command speak if they don't - then reward but give a smaller reward when you tell pup opposed to when pup does it on their own. Practice until pup will bark each time someone enters the property or approaches you. Practice with different people you can recruit, that pup doesn't know so that pup will learn to do this with anyone who enters the property and not just that one person. Draw pup's attention to people outside or people on your property, and reward pup when you see them watching someone in general - so that pup will begin watching people and staying more alert as a habit. Pup doesn't have to bark to reward this one - just reward when pup is watching someone and you notice that. I also recommend teaching the Quiet command, so that you can tell pup when to stop barking after they alert. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Mili
Labrador Retriever
5 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Mili
Labrador Retriever
5 Months

When we attach the chain in our dog's collar and take him for a walk . sometimes she gets angry 😠 and grabs the chain with her mouth and runs away. How can I stop this

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
708 Dog owners recommended

Hello Binhu, If the chain is heavy you may want to try switching to a different type of chew-proof leash, like VirChewLy. Likely pup is trying to initiate a game of keep away and likes the attention of someone running after them, or they are fearful of the leash still. Pup also may simply not want to walk - in which case you need to evaluate why. If you are asking more of pup than what their self-control, attention span, or energy can handle, many dogs will react with stubbornness, shutting down responding, or getting hyper active. To help pup overcome any fearfulness, check out the article linked below and spend time reintroducing the leash, letting pup drag something light-weight but chew-proof, like VirChewly around the house while you are there to supervise. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-your-puppy-to-accept-leash If pup simply thinks this is a fun game, use a lighter- weight leash that's chew-proof at this age, and spray bitter apple, bitter melon, or white vinegar on the leash to make it taste bad. I don't know how those sprays will effect metal, so if you stick with your chain leash, do a little research to make sure the acid in those things won't corrode the metal. Many chew-proof leashes are coated with vinyl or something similar over the metal, which shouldn't cause an issue if a coating is present. I would also go back to some basics with heel training - I don't know what situation pup is getting frustrated in, but you may need to use a different method or different training equipment too. Heel Article - turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel As hard as it can be, remaining very calm, patient, and consistent in those situations is often most effective. For example, if a pup starts bucking on the end of the leash, you can plant yourself firmly to keep from being pulled over, take out some of the slack in the leash, then simply wait for pup to give up - when pup stops and gives a few seconds of good behavior, reward the good behavior then in a confident cheerful tone of voice command pup "Let's Go" and continue the walk. After pup has walked a little way doing well, then you be the one to turn around and go home - knowing that pup probably needs a break, before pup acts out again, so that pup is rewarded with returning home while they are behaving well still. Reacting like that can be difficult, but calmness, patience, and still insisting that pup complies even if it means taking time, often gains respect best. Heightened emotions, engaging in tug of war on the leash - which will cause a dog to pull against you more naturally (think sled-dogs), getting rough, or giving in and letting pup have their way, can all make it harder in the end. Pup needs to see that you will follow through with the instruction, but can maintain your own calmness and confidence in the process. Dog training is partially being more stubborn and out-thinking your dog, rather than intimidating. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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