How to Train a Puppy to Bark at Strangers

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

Introduction

While your Trixie's cute little puppy barks might not bother you now, the story is likely to be different in a few months when she gets her full volume bark. Even worse, when your neighbors start banging on your door to complain. Instead of having to deal with this aggravation, why not spend a little time and train your pup that there are times when it might be acceptable to bark and times when she needs to keep her opinions to herself. One thing to keep in mind: very few dogs bark just to hear the sound of their own voices. Barking is their way of communicating in much the same way that we talk. 

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Defining Tasks

The basic premise of this training is that your goal is to teach Trixie that a good time for her to exercise her voice, is anytime there is a stranger outside the house or trying to get in. Although there may be other times when you want Trixie to bark on command, in this instance you are teaching her to bark under a particular circumstance, i.e. a stranger knocking on the door or walking around your yard. It could save you and your family from an intruder or your home from being burglarized. 

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Getting Started

Before you start working on training Trixie to bark at strangers, she must first have mastered the four basic commands of 'come', 'sit', 'down', and 'stay'. By mastering these skills, Trixie learns who is in the Alpha position and that she is required to learn the things she is being taught. You need a few supplies to help with the training:

  • Leash
  • Treats
  • Helper

Of course, you can have all the supplies you can possibly imagine, but if you don't have the time and patience to put into the training method you choose, Trixie may never learn that she is supposed to bark when there are strangers about. 

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The Hello Friend Method

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1

A room with a door

Call Trixie into a room that has an outside door such as the kitchen or living room. It should be one where most people tend to knock or ring the bell. Have her sit and stay.

2

Call in a few favors

Time to call in the favors from one of your friends. It doesn't matter whether Trixie knows them or not as they will be on the other side of the door.

3

Knock, knock

Who's there? Have your accomplice knock on the door or ring the doorbell. If Trixie barks, go ahead and praise her and give her a treat. Repeat this step until Trixie will bark every time your friend knocks or rings the bell.

4

Who's that tip-tapping on my window?

Now go into another room and have your friend start tapping on the window, making a noise loud enough for Trixie to hear. If she barks, be sure to praise her and give her a treat. Again, repeat this step over the course of several days and several times a day.

5

And many others

The rest of training Trixie to bark at strangers is to have multiple friends come by and knock on the doors and windows. Until anytime a stranger comes to the door or in your yard, Trixie pipes up to let you know all about it.

The Pick Your Cue Word Method

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Pick one word

Before you start trying to train Trixie to bark at strangers, you need to choose a command or cue word to initiate barking. Most people use simple word like, "speak" But you can choose anything you want, just be sure to stick with it.

2

Trigger barking

First, you have to get Trixie to bark. Try attaching her to one end of her leash and then attach the other to a table or other piece of furniture. Leave the room, going just out of sight and call her to come to you. When she realizes she can't get to you, she will start barking. When she does, go back into the room, praise her and give her a treat.

3

Short training spurts

Keep repeating this in short bursts throughout the day over the course of several days.

4

Now add the cue

Once Trixie has learned to bark as you leave the room, add your chosen cue word at the moment she starts barking. Be sure to praise her and give her a treat each time she does what is expected of her.

5

Add one stranger to the mix

Have a friend that Trixie doesn't know come and meet you while you are out for a walk. As he approaches you, give Trixie your "Speak!" command. If she starts barking at the stranger, be sure to praise her and give her a treat. The more you practice this, the sooner she will bark at any stranger who comes to your door or comes up to you on one of your walks.

The What Do You Hear Method

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Strange noises

Most puppies will bark at strange loud noises, such as when the doorbell rings, someone knocks on the door, even a strange car pulling into your driveway. Rather than getting upset when this happens, praise Trixie and give her a treat.

2

Well done!

Each time Trixie barks at a noise, get excited with her and ask her questions like "What do you hear?" or "What is it, Trixie?" At the same time, encourage her to approach the door with you to see who is knocking. Be sure to praise her and let her know she is doing a great job.

3

No bark?

If for some reason Trixie seems a bit loathe to bark at the noises, you can try encouraging her with words like "Speak!" or "What is it?" Then the moment she makes even the slightest attempt to bark, praise her and give her a treat.

4

Time to hush

Once you have Trixie barking at strangers, the next thing is to teach her the 'quiet' command to get her to hush. When she stops barking, say "quiet" and reward with lots of praise and treats.

5

Keep practicing

The rest lies in repeating the training several times a day until Trixie learns that it is her job to bark at strangers and she has become good at it.

Written by PB Getz

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 04/12/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Rex

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Alsatian

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4 Months

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Question

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He doesn't bark at strangers instead he plays with them I need help

April 30, 2021

Rex's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Desmond, Continue to pursue socialization with pup even though that can seem counter-intuitive, because a good protection and guard dog needs to know what's normal in the world, especially around people, so that they can tell when something is wrong correctly and not just react to everything and be unreliable. Good socialization also boosts confidence. Getting pup around a lot of people and places is great, but also work on pup's manners and obedience in those settings so pup is learning to focus on you around those exposures - like practicing heeling past people at a park, a Down-Stay at an outdoor shopping area, sitting for being petted, ect... Many dogs will naturally guard if it's in their genetics and you have laid a good foundation of respect and obedience, once they mature mentally between 1-2 years of age. If pup doesn't, you can also teach pup to bark automatically when someone enters the property and be more watchful in general using reward based training. To teach pup to bark, 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 come to the door while pup watches from a window or inside somewhere. Command speak and reward with a treat when they do. Practice with telling pup to speak each time the person is there, until pup barks on their own when the person tries to enter without saying speak. At that point, have the person come onto the property, 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. 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

April 30, 2021

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Corkie

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Aspin Mix Philippine Breed

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3 Months

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Just got this cute Pup 6 days ago. First day he was really traumatized due to the recent owner he quite got abused from The owners neighbor. So far today (6th day) i see quite some results he started trusting me and it was really good! i wanna train my puppy so bad to walk on leash and bark and all that easy trick commands. But unfortunately he's not interested whenever i pull the leash just a lil bit he won't even cooperate and i just wait for him to walk and then suddenly sit's on the floor wait's again multiple times. Any good advice and why this is happening? And how should i fix this

Feb. 17, 2021

Corkie's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello Terence, Given pup's past I suspect pup was never introduced to the leash correctly. Most puppies don't know how to respond to a leash the first time it's on them - they either buck like a bronco or freeze. Check out the article I have linked below and I recommend following one of those methods to help pup get used to the sensation of the leash. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-your-puppy-to-accept-leash Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Feb. 17, 2021


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