How to Train a Puppy to Stop Barking at Strangers

Medium
2-4 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Puppies can develop bad habits for any number of reasons. It could be a behavior that was inherited from the mother, or it could be due to a bad experience that happened at any point before your puppy came home with you. No matter the reason, even young puppies can show fear or aggression towards the unfamiliar. This can include both other animals as well as strange people, and this fear can manifest in a number of ways.

One of the more obvious ways that a puppy can respond to a strange person is to start barking. Barking is loud and noisy and has the capacity to scare some people away or prevent the puppy from being touched or handled by someone he is scared of. Barking is annoying at the best of times and intimidating at the worst and a puppy will quickly learn that it can be an effective tool. The only problem is, barking is not polite! On top of that, you certainly don’t want your puppy starting off with such a prominent fear. It’s important to nip this problem in the bud before it escalates.

Defining Tasks

Most puppies are fully capable of dropping bad habits and developing healthier ones, though it will heavily depend on the history, personality, and resilience of the individual. Some older dogs are largely incapable of escaping fear reactivity and therefore should rely on management of the fear, rather than a cure. This is where prevention comes in, which can be used for any puppy who may be too entrenched in his ways to be able to face the fear head-on.

The other methods rely on an eventual adaptation to strangers or a redirect to a more productive activity to remove stress and fear. Whichever method you choose, you should begin your training as early as possible to catch the problem before it can grow out of control and you should begin to see progress or a complete change in two to four weeks with consistency and repetition of your training techniques.

Getting Started

The best tools for training your puppy to stop barking at strangers are toys to act as distractions and treats to reinforce a more appropriate behavior. These treats should be especially tasty or interesting for your puppy. Try foods that he’s never had before or would not get on a typical day and save these treats for these special occasions.

If you’re working on management, you may want to find a crate to keep your puppy in when guests are over. Otherwise, arm yourself with patience. Your puppy is learning and will require plenty of guidance along the way.

The Management Method

Effective
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Step
1
Avoid unplanned meetings
Try to know ahead of time when a guest may be coming over. Don’t surprise your puppy with a guest who may not understand his tendency to bark at strangers.
Step
2
Change directions on walks
If another person is coming your way, don’t hesitate to turn around and walk in another direction. Control your puppy’s line of sight if possible to keep him from stressing while he should be out exercising.
Step
3
Provide space away from guests
If you have to have guests or strangers over, provide a room away from the hustle and bustle where your puppy can relax and sleep it off. Provide white noise or a television playing to prevent him from hearing noise from outside the room.
Step
4
Use a crate
Work on crate training your puppy so he has a space to go when he is feeling overwhelmed and wants to bark. A crate can provide a little safe area for him to relax.
Step
5
Supervise outdoors
Keep an eye on your puppy whenever he is outside in the yard. Block the view of the street in front of or behind your house if possible to keep your puppy from seeing and barking at strangers.
Recommend training method?

The Redirection Method

Effective
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Step
1
Catch the behavior
Watch for signs that your puppy is about to start barking. This can be preceded by growling or an unusual amount of focus.
Step
2
Use puzzle toys
Provide puzzle toys with treats inside to use as a distraction. Keep your puppy busy mentally and physically.
Step
3
Offer food or treats
Use small bits of food or treats as a distraction by themselves in order to prevent your puppy from barking. She will have a hard time making noise when her mouth is occupied.
Step
4
Ask for another behavior
Instead of barking, ask your puppy for a ‘sit’ or a ‘down’ and offer a reward. This can help her associate strangers with the more appropriate behavior.
Step
5
Start play time
Be a distraction yourself by offering to throw a ball or other toy for your puppy to fetch. Her focus can be placed on the act of playing rather than barking.
Recommend training method?

The Association Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Use a high value treat
Use treats that are rare and tasty. These treats should only be used when training your puppy around strangers to keep them novel and exciting.
Step
2
Offer the treat when a stranger is near
When a stranger is in your puppy’s line of sight, offer the treat. Strangers will mean good things.
Step
3
Have the stranger assist from afar
When possible ask the stranger or guest to help by handing them some treats to toss at your puppy from a safe distance. He may begin to understand that the stranger is a food dispenser.
Step
4
Treats go away when the stranger leaves
Put the treats away when the stranger or guest leaves. This will help your puppy associate the tastiest treats with the presence of strangers. There’s no reason to bark because strangers will always give treats!
Step
5
Decrease distance over time
As your puppy becomes more comfortable and less prone to barking, ask the guests or strangers to toss treats from closer each time you have an encounter until your puppy can take a treat from the palm of a stranger’s hand without barking.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Shoko
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
4 Months
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Question
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Shoko
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
4 Months

The dog likes some random people but will otherwise yap her head off and growl at everybody else. We are trying to get her to like "her" grandmother but she hates her with a vengeance, possibly because she smells grandmother's dog on her. Grandmother has also tried giving dog treats through a door open a crack, but as soon as Dog sees Grandmother's face, she goes nuts. This has to be resolved because grandmother is over a lot!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
842 Dog owners recommended

Hello Yona, Have regular get-to-togethers with your grandmother. Measure out Shoko's food for the day into a zip-lock bag and have your grandmother toss pieces of food to her without looking at her. Shoko will probably bark at first, but simply ignore her and wait until she stops for a second. This may take a while at first. As soon as she takes a break, praise her and have your grandmother toss treats over to her. Do this whenever she stops barking for a second. When she first sees your grandmother also praise her and give her a couple of treats from the bag, one at a time, before she has the chance to react. The goal is to catch her during quiet or calm brief seconds and reward those seconds. This also needs to be practiced often and practiced for long enough for her to gradually start to relax and realize that she gets treats around your grandmother. Let Shoko be the one to approach your grandmother once your grandmother is within ten feet of her. When Shoko can handle being in the same room with her, then have your grandmother ignore her, and if she comes over, give her treats. Take it slow and let Shoko initiate the interactions. Your grandmother can drop treats behind her when she walks around to encourage Shoko to stay close and face her fears. Starting the training at a new location might be easier for Shoko at first. Try taking Shoko over to your grandmother's house, the yard, or a park, and keep some distance between them while your grandmother tosses treats at first. Also, enroll Shoko in a puppy class that will practice having the owners touch and handle each other's puppies while they feed them treats. Shoko needs to be around a lot of people starting immediately. These interactions with people should involve lots of treats, toys, and fun, and work on tempting Shoko to check out new things and people by scattering treats around something new or having new people offer or toss treats, rather than forcing Shoko to get close to something she is afraid of. If she makes the choice on her own and receives a reward for doing so, that should help her be braver in the future around that type of thing again. Take her to lots of places like parks, farmers markets, pet stores, puppy class, friend's homes, on walks, local ball games, and outdoor shopping malls. Start with calmer more spacious locations first, or people you know who will calmly toss her treats and ignore her. As she improves, take her to more and more places and let people feed her treats. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

I’m not being helpful at all but your dog looks exactly like mine!

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Question
Musibi
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
5 Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Musibi
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
5 Months

My dog loves some strangers, and then barks and growls at others. It seems random to us who he decides to like and dislike. Even if we are in a group of people, some he will ignore, others he will approach, and then others he will bark and growl at.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
842 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jason, This sounds like a fear issue and a need for more positive socialization. People's body language and scents can effect how a dog views them. Things you wouldn't think about like hats, glasses, beards, canes, strange walks, or anything your dog isn't used to seeing a lot can also cause fear. With the help of a trainer take Musibi around as many people as possible and have those people toss him treats when he is being friendly or calm (not aggressive). Check out the video linked below. If you are worried about a potential bite (which is always a possibility with a fearful dog), use a back tie with a leash and take safety measures like tape on the ground for people to stand behind to keep him from being able to get too close to people, while people are still able to toss him treats and socialize him while he is calm or acting friendly. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIJoEJfTS-E When he is very comfortable with people and not a bite risk, then you can also get him used to being touched by giving him a treat whenever he is touched somewhere. Start doing this yourself to teach him the concept, then have others do it later when he is comfortable with them. For Example, touch his ear and give a treat, touch his shoulder and give a treat, gently touch his tail and give a treat, ect...Even if he does well being touched now, do this as a preventative to maintain his tolerance later. Be careful about others doing this if he is still nervous. Go slow and wait until he is more comfortable around them in general. He needs to meet at least a hundred different people in a positive way, including men, women, children, people of different races, different ages, disabled people, different looking people, ect...think about who he normally is around in your home and make sure you include a lot of people who are different in some way from his family, to make sure he gets used to them too. If you have any reason to be concerned about more serious aggression (opposed to barking and seeming nervous), do not wait to get help. The earlier aggression is addressed the easier it will be and the better the potential outcome. Aggression gets harder to address the older a puppy gets. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Mabel
border collie cross
Six Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Mabel
border collie cross
Six Months

Mabel has never been the most sociable puppy but has recently started barking more and more whenever she sees a stranger approaching whilst on a walk. We walk her with out two year old collie who adores everybody so the fear is not coming from him. We’ve had her from 8 weeks and she’s been well socialised with people and dogs but her behaviour is getting worse. I’m pretty sure it’s fear as she displays all the signs of being scared once she gets closer to the person. How can I stop this?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
842 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kate, Check out the videos linked below on counter conditioning - making something scary, pleasant in the dog's mind instead. Barking on a walk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JY7JrteQBOQ Also, check out this video. This video is a bit more intensive but notice the use of a back tie leash, the timing of rewards (while the dog is calm - not while acting aggressive). Having people you know that your dog does not know practice this with her can also help her learn to be calmer around people. Have people toss treats instead if she is a bite risk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIJoEJfTS-E&t=475s Always take precautions when dealing with aggression. You may want hire a trainer who works with several other trainers, who will rotate working with your dog as "strangers" in public places, so that you can practice the training with people who know how to do this who your dog thinks are new. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Willow
Border Collie
8 Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Willow
Border Collie
8 Months

My dog hates strangers, mainly men, if they ignore her she is generally OK but will sometimes bark or chase them away, but if they try to stroke her or shout her over she goes mad barking and lunging at them. She also hates it when strangers come into the house, she is better if they stand still but if they start moving about she barks and lunges at them, she won't take any treats off strangers even if they have been thrown out for her.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
842 Dog owners recommended

Hello Tasha, Some Border Collies can be wary of strangers and because they are pretty sensitive in general they really need to be socialized in a positive way with a ton of people while they are young puppies. It sounds like her issue could be a combination of a lack of socialization around lots of people while young and maybe genetics. I suggest hiring a professional trainer to help you with this. Find someone who works with a number of other trainers or staff members so that their are a lot of different people who can work with her during the training process. She probably needs some correctly done correction for the aggressive behavior, but once the calms down after that, she then needs to be rewarded for her calmness, tolerance, and relaxed body language. Most stressed and highly aroused dogs won't take food, you want to interrupt that mindset first, then work at a level she can handle. Once she can get within a couple of feet of someone, having her work with them by doing things like a structured heel, obedience, and agility can help build her confidence around them. This needs to be done very carefully to avoid a bite and go at a pace she can learn without under or overwhelming her. Check out the videos linked below for some example of structure, calming exercises, confidence boosting exercises, associating people with good things, and creating calm environments. Aggression and fear are things that are best dealt with in person because the exact way you do the training depends on how the dog is responding, and you need to really be in tune with a dog's body language and know how to adjust the training to get the best results. Structure and calmness - especially Heel and Place: Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Dog Training Do’s https://www.solidk9training.com/sk9-blog/2016/09/08/the-ten-commandments-of-dog-training-and-ownership-do-2 Confidence building: Agility video 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OseD7TRwsPQ Agility video 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPxUXvWawpk Associating people with good things and fair corrections - done by an experienced trainer who specializes in aggression, reactivity and fear, Jeff Gellman SolidK9Traininig. Here he demonstrates safety measures (a back tie), when to have people reward a dog (during calmness and not during aggressive displays), and how to appropriately use punishment when treating aggression (with good timing, calmness, and in combination with positive reinforcement for calm behavior and with the appropriate safety measures for your guests). Aggression video: https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A I really suggest hiring a trainer who has a lot of experience with aggression and uses both positive reinforcement and fair corrections, and a lot of structure and calmness, to help you. Ask a lot of questions, read reviews or ask for client referrals - many trainers only teach obedience and do not have experience with aggression - many! Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Bella
Rottweiler Lab Mix
2 Years
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Question
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Bella
Rottweiler Lab Mix
2 Years

Hi, I’m actually writing this as a concerned child (who is in college) about my family’s dog, Bella.
We’ve had Bella for two years now—since she was a puppy—and she’s truly a sweet and loving dog. There are almost two sides to her though; one for inside the home or on the property and the other for being out on walks. When she’s in the property, she acts like a guard dog and will bark at even the slightest movement from a car passing by, the UPS delivery trucks, a stranger walking on the road, someone in the far distance, etc. This bark isn’t a slight grumble here and there; instead, she barks incessantly and her entire demeanor changes (hair will stand up, etc). Meanwhile, when we are out on a walk, she’s really excited to see people and see other dogs and whimpers really—there’s rarely ever a bark on a walk. Because she’s so strong and loud when she barks, I don’t like the idea of introducing them.

All of this to say that I need help and a solution. With three kids and her incessant barking whilst on the property at anyone and everything, having friends over makes me worry that people will avoid us because she is SO bark-y and intimidating with her Rottweiler coloring. Once she meets people, it’s fine and she’s couldn’t be bothered by their presence, but it’s at a point where the mailman holds pepper spray to be ready in the case that she gets out. Something needs to change.

To make matters worse, she sits on a windowsill in our front windows and quite literally guards the house. My mom has had a trainer come over who did suggest blocking her view on the window sill because her hormones are definitely heightened, but my mom thinks that she would ruin any curtains or shades placed there. I know that it’s important to blockade that view off but I am wondering if/what I can do to redirect her attention away from anyone passing by? Any suggestions would be great!

Thank you!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
842 Dog owners recommended

Hello Casey, The behavior could go either way. Some dogs are territorial at home but fine with others in another, neutral environment. Others lack socialization in general and may just be quiet in public because they are tense and nervous (less confident than at home), so are a ticking time bomb in public too. For public encounters, see if there is a G.R.O.W.L. class in your area. These classes are designed for aggressive and dog reactive dogs. All the dogs wear muzzles so it's a safe way to socialize them together. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Maple
Australian Shepherd
6 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Maple
Australian Shepherd
6 Months

My challenge with maple is she I so scared of strangers. She barks at them and tries to herd them. She is amazing with dogs but terrible with strangers. Even at the dog park she will find strangers and bark at them non stop

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
842 Dog owners recommended

Hello Trey, Because of pup's age I suggest hiring a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issue and works with a team of trainers. Look for someone who can work in person with desensitizing her to a variety of people who know how to approach, when to reward, and are able to practice things like obedience with her as she improves around them. The quickest way to do this will likely be through a qualified training group, where pup can practice around a lot of different willing "strangers" - trainers she doesn't know, to overcome that fear more quickly, with people who know how to interact with her. This will likely look like rewarding calm responses from a distance, interrupting outbursts and using structured obedience to build her trust and respect for you, work up to strangers rewarding from closer and closer distances as she learns to trust them and you more, and finally having them practice obedience with her to gain trust. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Bailey
Pit bull
7 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Bailey
Pit bull
7 Months

My puppy has this problem in staying calm when passing by people. She starts growling at first and then barks. It all started when my girlfriend's dad and sister came back from their trip and since she never met then she treated them as strangers. She also avoids and barks at other people at the dog park and avoids playful dogs. What can i do for her to be friendlier and playful.

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

Love the picture! Right off the bat, I would start working on obedience commands right away, reinforcing and strengthening the commands she already knows, and adding others. Sit: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-pitbull-puppy-to-sit The Turn Method for Heel: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel. Obedience in general: https://wagwalking.com/training/obedience-train-a-german-shepherd-puppy. I would also contact a trainer who is used to working with dogs that have issues, whether it be timidity or aggression. I think it is essential to Bailey being a safe dog - and besides, dogs love to use their brains. She may need more mental games to give her focus and confidence. Once you have a few obedience commands under control, sign her up for a group class to learn and socialize with other dogs. Good luck!

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Oliver
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
12 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
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Oliver
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
12 Weeks

Ollie and I have not been to training yet due to covid but he growls and barks at people, dogs and noises that he doesn’t know. Sometimes it’s as little as someone opening an window (I live in apartment). He barks and growls to the point people are afraid and avoid him which I don’t want. I try to make him sit and look at me but he just goes haywire and I don’t know what to do. I know some people who use bark collars that do not shot they just beep or vibrate would that be a good idea?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
842 Dog owners recommended

Hello Danielle, At this age, this is most likely a fear issue due to a lack of socialization. I don't recommend a collar - that could make this issue worse at this age. Pup really needs to be around a bunch of people and have positive interactions with them. Since joining a class may not be an option, I recommend either inviting dog savy friends over to a fenced area and having them toss pup treats whenever he responds calmly to them, then have him perform commands like Sit to earn treats when he gets warmed up enough to get close, then to practice gently touching in in various locations of his body - one spot - like a shoulder, at a time while feeding a treat with their free hand each time they touch - stopping the touch as soon as the food is gone. This can be done social distancing if the area is fenced, then only pup has to go up to the person and not you. OR See if you have dog savy friends that pup can go visit at their house for a day, while they practice the above with him. Drop him off at lots of different dog-trustworthy friends' homes, one person at a time for a few hours each time, that way you don't have to go inside and interact and can still social distance but pup can get the social exposure he needs in fun ways. If you have other friends with puppies needing to socialize, why not puppy swap often. Continue to take pup places to expose them to sights and sounds, even if people can't get close to you to interact when pup is on leash and not in a fenced area. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Radar
Shih Tzu
10 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Radar
Shih Tzu
10 Months

He barks at people and kids wjen we are out for a walk. People want to pet him but he barks and backs away and I think people think he is mean

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
842 Dog owners recommended

Hello Corrine, I suggest recruiting some dog friendly friends to pretend to be strangers in the types of environments pup tends to bark. Have the person approach like a stranger would and ignore pup while talking with you as they bark. As soon as pup gets quiet for even a second or calmly moves closer to say hi, have the friend gently toss a treat at pup's paws without saying anything. Practice this with various friends until pup doesn't bark when a person approaches. When pup is brave enough to come over, have the friends then practice rewarding pup each time they gently touch pup, one hand touching and the other feeding a treat, then the touching stops when the treat is eaten until the next treat. When pup tolerates the touching well, have the friends reward pup for coming over to say hi, obeying a calm Sit command, then being given a treat and a small pet - to teach pup manners and calmness instead of just learning to run up to people or jump instead of hide. All of this will require a lot of repetition with different people so be proactive setting up sessions with friends. Going to their neighborhood and having them just meet you on the sidewalk can be a good way to get friends to help, since it's fairly convenient for them that way, gives pup new people to practice with, and is practice in a variety of environments. I also suggest teaching pup to Say Hi/touch: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/target-the-fun-teach-your-dog-to-touch/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Bowie
Collie
6 Months
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Bowie
Collie
6 Months

My dog Bowie is a Romanian rescue and is still very young! We have only had her a month and a half and she doesn’t have many issues other than barking horrendously when people she doesn’t know enter the house! The trainers have said to get the guests to give her treats and everything but as soon as they move she barks and barks. She has a nervous temperament so it’s mostly worry I think cause she wags her tail when she does it but it makes me quite anxious as it’s hard to get her to stop. She won’t focus on treats or anything although when I put her out the room she stops for a bit then will continue. I’ve been told to ignore her too and only praise quiet but my family aren’t on board and tell her to be quiet and no, enough so I’m a but unsure what to do

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

Hello, good for you for taking her to training and for being consistent. It is important though, that the family be on board for helping Bowie learn how to behave. I would continue to socialize her as you are doing. Don't stop and be sure to put her into lots of socialization situations, like the dog park, walks where you meet up with other people and dogs, and please continue the training classes. They are really good for her. The things that you are working on (the giving of treats, removing her from the room, and praising her when she is quiet) are all good ways to go about it. You could also try teaching her the "quiet" command. It is well described here: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark. The Desensitize Method is excellent, as is The Chewy Toy Method. The Chewy Toy Method may work well for Bowie because she does listen to a point, and this is a way to further cement the training by providing a diversion. Take a look and give it a try. Good luck with giving these suggestions a go, and happy training!

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Question
Nellie
Schnoodle
5 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Nellie
Schnoodle
5 Months

Nellie barks at men whether at home or on a walk. She backs away but her tail still wags. When she approaches men if she recognises them she lowers herself to the ground then lick them and or rolls over onto her back?🤔

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

Hello, as you can see, Nellie is uncomfortable around men, but does not necessarily dislike them. I would continue what you are doing and socialize her to men. Take Nellie on lots of walks and give her the opportunity to meet male friends that you may have. Let them know of her personality and have them bend down to say hello when they meet her, as opposed to towering over her. Taking her to obedience classes will be a good way to boost her confidence. Dogs love to train and thrive on being able to perform a task as asked. Look online for a class that has positive reinforcement training classes to really encourage Nellie in her confidence. In the meantime, take a look here for pointers: https://wagwalking.com/training/be-dominant and as well, here: https://wagwalking.com/training/be-independent. Good luck!

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Molly
Cock-A-Poo
10 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Molly
Cock-A-Poo
10 Months

Molly barks at noise she hears from outside usually from people talking Molly barks like crazy if seine comes into the house or knocks on the door she's also barks at every person that walks past us on walks out which is very. Frustrating and people look scared even children are scared of her.

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

Hello, my apologies for the delay in reply. This video is an excellent tool for teaching Molly to not bark in many situations. Please take a look at the entire video for training. :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpzvqN9JNUA Practice every day for 10 minutes. As well, teach Molly the Quiet command, which can be used both in the house and outside. The Quiet Method is explained here: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark. In the same guide, you will see the Desensitize Method which is great for dogs who get excited when the door knocks or people come over. Also, try the Distraction Method: https://wagwalking.com/training/stop-barking-on-walks. Good luck!

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Indie
Cockerdor
15 Weeks
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Indie
Cockerdor
15 Weeks

Hi. My dog 15 weeks. She’s been well socialised since we got her at 8 weeks. Very easy to train has passed puppy classes based on her ability to follow commands. Has good recall etc. However on one of her first walks, a Springer spaniel pounced on her from behind when she hadn’t seen it coming. She was petrified. I don’t know if this is linked but since then she can sometimes anxious on her walks and has barked at strangers a couple of times. She’s such a friendly dog and loves a fuss and with most people she’ll go over to them straight away but if she’s not expecting to see somebody somewhere if they startle her. She barks . She’ll then go over tail wagging but I’m concerned about the barking and the potential anxiety around strangers going up. I have three children and she’s so good with them. I don’t want anything to change that so I want to nip any potential future problems in the bud now.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
842 Dog owners recommended

Hello Vicky, I suggest socializing her as often as you can to help her realize that good experiences are the norm again. Carry treats or her dog food with you in a treat pouch or small ziplock bag during these outings, and give her treats for good responses to people, also have people give pup treats too. You can even teach nice manners by having people, such as kids, tell pup to Sit and then reward with treats. You want pup to have at least 100+ good experiences with a variety of different types of people and situations. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Ella
Mini Shnauzer
13 Weeks
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Ella
Mini Shnauzer
13 Weeks

My puppy is nice to some people but then out of nowhere she will start to bark and growl.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
842 Dog owners recommended

Yesid, It sounds like pup needs more socialization at this age. Pup is most likely acting suspicious due to fear because they are not used to certain types of people. Take pup to all different types of locations, starting with calmer locations first. Carry pup's food or treats with you and reward pup for acting calm, friendly, or curious around new things. Have people toss or hand pup treats when they greet pup. If pup is too worked up have the person stand far enough away pup can stay calm and toss treats to pup from there, then as pup relaxes let pup approach the person when they are feeling braver and friendlier. Friends and family who are patient with dogs are good people to practice this with. Once pup is ready to greet more people up close, continue carrying treats with you and have people give pup a command like Sit and then reward to teach pup good manners while continuing socialization. Friends and family can also practice giving pup a treat each time they touch them while touching them, with people pup isn't afraid of, to desensitize pup to being approached and touched also. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Lily
Chihuahua
4 Months
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Lily
Chihuahua
4 Months

My puppy is 4 months and she is just now getting to socialize and I have tried walks and bringing her to stores and having her around people so she can get used to them petting her. My dad friends come over and all she does is bark at them amd it scares me that she will grow up to be mean towards people and I dont know what else to do. If you have any advice please anything will help

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
842 Dog owners recommended

Hello Rebecca, First, have your dad's friends ignore her when they enter, then whenever she gets quiet for at least a second, have them toss her a treat nonchalantly. Allow her to approach them on her own terms as she gains courage through the treat tossing. Once she is willing to approach, have them give her a simply command like Sit and calmly hand the treat from an open calm. You are looking to reward calmness, quietness, and eventually good manners around them. At the beginning, they are looking for just seconds of quiet to have a chance to toss the treat to her - as she relaxes more while doing this, the quiet periods should come more often to allow you to reward more often and wait for longer periods of quiet. I also recommend joining a puppy kindergarten class that practices handling and training each other's puppies with treats a bit during the class for the purpose of socialization. Often that will be one short activity practiced each week, then you will train your own puppy the rest of the time - but it can help puppies get used to others. Carry pup's kibble and treats with you when you go places also, have strangers offer pup a treat when they pet or give them a command, to make sure new people are associated with good things and not just overwhelming. Look for gentle men for pup to meet especially. Continue getting pup out in public even though it may seem a bit hard right now. Often pups will improve overtime if you continue to expose them, even though they may seem to regress temporarily as they hit various stages of maturity, that can make them temporarily more fearful. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/puppy-classes-when-to-start/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Rylee
Miniature Fox Terrier
18 Weeks
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Rylee
Miniature Fox Terrier
18 Weeks

Now that Rylee is fully vaccinated we have been going for small outing to get her Leash trained. This involves going to a large grass patch in the street. When she see a stranger in the street or even our neighbours outside, she starts barking at them. I want to stop this before it become a habit and I can't take her outside! She is fine with, cars, dogs etc but people she barks constantly.

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

Hello, as soon as the vet gives the okay, sign Rylee up for dog training lessons. It is an excellent way to expose her to people and other dogs, especially people who understand that dogs bark and need to be trained. Being a dog that is of working lineage, she'll need tons of exercise both mental and physical, and the training will take care of that! She'll love the activity, too. In the meantime, you can teach Rylee the "quiet command" and it will be useful in lots of situations. Take a look here: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark (The Desensitize Method may be useful, as well as the Quiet Method.) The Passing Approach Method here is also beneficial for both human and dog interaction: https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs. Rylee has the opportunity to practice her manners from a distance. Work on these suggestions every day for about 10 minutes, always ending on a high note. Good luck!

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Albie
Border Collie
4 Months
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Albie
Border Collie
4 Months

Hi I have a 4-month-old collie who has always been quite nervous about people trying to touch him on a walk but has suddenly started barking at random people on walks.
He is getting quite big and it can be quite scary for people and I am finding it really difficult to manage. I am too worried to let him off the lead and have been trying to expose him to strangers and give him treats when he isn't barking at them but it seems to be getting worse not better.
I am really worried that we will not be able to control it and he will become aggressive.
Any support would be amazing.
sami

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
842 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sami, Check out the article linked below on teaching Heel, Quiet. Turns method for heeling: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Practice those commands on the walk when people aren't around first, gradually progressing to when there are people off in the distance, then closer. Recruit as many gentle friends as you can to walk up to you but stand several feet away. Feed pup treats while the person approaches before pup starts barking, stop treats when pup barks. Have them stand several feet away and calmly talk to you while ignoring pup, whenever pup pauses barking for even a second or responds to your quiet command, have them gently toss pup a treat while ignoring them still. Practice this often so that pup begins to expect rewards and not being touched when people approach and relaxes more. When pup can handle distant approaches, after pup relaxes around the person, have the person go on a walk with you, several feet away but walking parallel to you and ignoring pup. Traveling together can help pup relax around them more. Once pup can handle that, have the person practice rewarding pup for obedience, like sitting. Finally, when pup is completely comfortable with the person, have them gently touch pup while feeding a treat. As soon as the treat is gone the touching should stop until the next treat. No touching without a treat being given right now. This needs to be practiced several times a week, and ideally with dozens of different people. 100 would be ideal, but shoot for at least 2 dozen. You may find that joining a puppy class, dog club, or training group will make finding people to practice with much easier. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Hiro
Border Collie
7 Months
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Hiro
Border Collie
7 Months

My dog on a leash is fine with strangers that do not have a dog, but when he is at an off leash dog trail he will bark at people who DON'T have a dog with them. He also barks at people who enter our house like crazy and does not stop. This scares a lot of people. However, he responds to them if they give him commands if they have a treat. But will go back to barking right after they give him the treat. He gets plenty of exercise and mental stimulation as well.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
227 Dog owners recommended

Hello there. It sounds like you have your hands full. I am going to provide you with information on how to correct this behavior. You won’t be able to solve your dog’s overprotective behavior in one day. In the meantime, you don’t want to put your life on hold. You can still invite guests into your home as long as you prioritize managing your dog’s behavior. You’ll need a short-term strategy to start showing your overprotective dog what behavior is unacceptable while also keeping your guests safe. There are a few ways to do this. Leash: Keeping your dog on a leash while friends are visiting gives you control over your dog’s actions. Leash him up before the doorbell rings and keep him close as you greet your guests. During the visit, you can let the leash drag and only use it if you have to. Muzzle: If you feel his behavior warrants the use of a muzzle for the time being while you work on solving this problem, then it may be a wise choice. Separate Room: Your dog won’t get better without practice, but sometimes you have to weigh the risks versus rewards. If your overprotective dog is in the beginning stages of training, keeping him separated from guests might be best. You don’t want to put a friend’s safety at risk or needlessly stress out your dog. As long as you keep working toward stopping the behavior, separating an overprotective dog from company is a temporary management solution. Start Obedience Training Obedience training is a must for every dog, and it’s especially important for overprotective dogs. Working with your dog on things like “sit-stay,” “down-stay,” and “heel,” will help build his impulse control. He’ll start seeing you as a capable leader and will turn to you for guidance. A mistake many pup parents make is stopping obedience training once their dog masters the basics skills. Being well-trained is about more than knowing how to sit when a person holds a treat in front of their face. It’s a lifetime lesson, and even senior dogs need regular training. Commit to training your dog several times a day for short periods of time. Make Your Dog Work for Affection You can’t help but smother your dog with love every time he’s within petting distance, but that isn’t always what’s best for him. He will start to feel entitled to your attention, and that’s part of the problem. To remedy this, initiate a “work for it” program that allows you to show your dog affection as long as he earns your attention in appropriate ways. Make him sit, stay calm, and do whatever else you ask before doling out whatever it is he wants. If he’s excited for dinner, make him sit and leave it before digging in. If he wants in your lap, ask him to do a trick first. Never give your dog attention if he rudely nudges your hand or barks in your face. He needs to know polite behavior, and polite behavior only, is how he gets what he wants. You ignore everything else. Involve Other People in the Dog’s Life Most overprotective dogs choose to guard only the person they feel closest to. It’s usually the same person who fills their food bowls, takes them on walks, and handles training. They become obsessively attached, and a strong bond gradually mutates into overprotective behavior. Putting some space between you and your dog will help him learn to trust other people. Enlist the entire family’s help and take a step back in your role as primary caregiver. Have someone else feed the dog a few times a week, and encourage other people to engage her in playtime. This will help him be more comfortable with different people. Socialize Socialization is best done during the puppy stages, but even adult and senior dogs benefit from new experiences. Exposing your overprotective dog to new places, experiences, and people, will help him learn that not everyone is out to hurt you. Make sure each new experience is positive, and encourage your dog without forcing him to interact. If your dog is afraid, you don’t want to make things worse. Take socialization at the pace he’s comfortable with. If he seems overwhelmed, back up and try something a little smaller. These are some general ideas and they can be modified to fit your dynamic. These behaviors do take time, I am talking months, to correct. And sometimes the behaviors get worse before they get better. So just push through that time if that starts to happen. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you for writing in!

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Leo
Labrador Retriever
15 Weeks
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Leo
Labrador Retriever
15 Weeks

Since he has been allowed to go out anyone he meets outside he starts to bark and growl

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
227 Dog owners recommended

Hello. I am going to send you some training exercises you can use to help make your walks or outings a bit more peaceful. You can use the tips below and apply them to both humans and other dogs. The first step is to reframe what an oncoming dog means to your dog. From a safe distance — your dog determines the distance, not you — have your leashed dog view another dog. As the new dog comes into view, drop a lot of enticing meat treats just in front of your dog’s nose. Ignore any hysterics for now, but back up and create more space if your dog is unwilling to eat. This part is hard for humans — I understand. It helps to see your dog’s behavior for what it most likely is: fear vs. disobedience. The training reinforcer MUST be a great one, such as real meat. It is critical that the appearance of the new dog causes meat to fall from the sky. When the other dog is out of your dog’s view, all treats stop. We want your dog to predict that other dogs near him means that YUMMY FOOD will appear! As you are reframing your dog’s opinion of seeing other leashed dogs, be careful where you take your dog, and be protective of what he is exposed to. One fight can create a reactive dog. Consider not walking your dog for 30 days as you reprogram his opinions of other dogs. Instead, sit on your front porch or in your garage with your dog on leash, and practice treating every time another dog comes into your dog’s line of sight. During this time, engage your dog’s mind with mind puzzles, obedience work, and fun stuff like games in the house or yard. You know you have made great progress when your dog sees another dog, and he turns his head away from the once-threatening dog and looks into your eyes, expecting a treat. Once your dog is looking at his (former) trigger and then looking expectantly up at you for a treat, you can begin to put this skill on cue. Tell the dog, sit, "watch me" or whatever command you want to use for this exercise. Remember to go slowly. You will see a significant change in his behavior after a month of consistent practice.

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Leia
cockapoo
3 Months
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Leia
cockapoo
3 Months

My challenge is that whenever I go and anywhere and I’m carrying her she’s fine and doesn’t make a noise but when we go on walks she barks at people and other dogs

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
227 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Your dog needs to learn new behaviors to quell her fear. First we reduce her fear around new dogs, and then we begin adding cues such as “watch me” or “sit.” The steps below can be applied to both humans and other dogs, or anything else your dog may be reactive to. Research tells us that most leash reactivity is caused by fear, not by aggression. Dogs bark and lunge at other dogs to warn, “Go away! Go away!” Dogs fear other dogs because of genetic reasons, lack of socialization, fights when they were puppies, or any scary (to the dog) interaction with other dogs. Sometimes having low thyroid levels contributes to unwanted canine behavior. During this time, avoid any punishment for reactivity. Doing so will make her concerns even bigger. Dogs learn by making associations, and you want your dog to associate other dogs with pleasant things — never punishment. The first step is to reframe what an oncoming dog means to your dog. From a safe distance — your dog determines the distance, not you — have your leashed dog view another dog. As the new dog comes into view, drop a lot of enticing meat treats just in front of your dog’s nose. Ignore any hysterics for now, but back up and create more space if your dog is unwilling to eat. This part is hard for humans — I understand. It helps to see your dog’s behavior for what it most likely is: fear vs. disobedience. The training reinforcer MUST be a great one, such as real meat. It is critical that the appearance of the new dog causes meat to fall from the sky. When the other dog is out of your dog’s view, all treats stop. We want your dog to predict that other dogs near him means that YUMMY FOOD will appear! As you are reframing your dog’s opinion of seeing other leashed dogs, be careful where you take your dog, and be protective of what she is exposed to. One fight can create a reactive dog. Consider not walking your dog for 30 days as you reprogram her opinions of other dogs. Instead, sit on your front porch or in your garage (or somewhere out of the way if those two options aren't possible) with your dog on leash, and practice treating every time another dog comes into your dog’s line of sight. During this time, engage your dog’s mind with mind puzzles, obedience work, and fun stuff like games in the house or yard. You know you have made great progress when your dog sees another dog, and he turns his head away from the once-threatening dog and looks into your eyes, expecting a treat. Once your dog is looking at her (former) trigger and then looking expectantly up at you for a treat, you can begin to put this skill on cue. Tell your dog "watch me" every time you see another dog approaching. Your end goal is for your dog to see another dog, and remain calm, looking at you for guidance. And this will be either continuing your walk, or being allowed to interact with the other dog. Please let me know if you have additional questions. Thanks for writing in!

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Bear
Maltese/Pomeranian
6 Months
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Bear
Maltese/Pomeranian
6 Months

He barks at every stranger, and foreign noise such as a knock.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
842 Dog owners recommended

Hello Alexandra, I recommend teaching pup the Quiet command and desensitizing pup to the things he tends to bark at, like strangers and door knocks. Quiet method and Desensitize method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Door: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpzvqN9JNUA Strangers: https://www.youtube.com/watch/LXCELHDT2fs Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Leelah
Lab mix
8 Months
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Leelah
Lab mix
8 Months

Leelah will bark/growl/howl at any noise happening outside of our apartment, occasionally at my roommate inside of the apartment, & at any people she sees when we're out walking/playing.

However, she apparently never did this when she was boarding for a few weeks after I had an operation - everyone said she was super sweet and liked all strangers. Why does she do this with me? How do I fix the behaviour? Loud noises like that instigate panic attacks for me, so it's 100% necessary that this behaviour stops as soon as possible.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
842 Dog owners recommended

Hello Cauis, If she was boarding somewhere other than your home, it's very possible that the behavior is related to her being territorial of your home, and she wasn't territorial of a home she was only staying in temporarily. She may also feel extra protective of you and things that she thinks will bother you. Either way, I recommend teaching a Quiet command, desensitizing her to the things she tends to bark at, and giving her something to entertain herself instead of watching out the window. Quiet method for teaching Quiet command. You could also have someone else teach her this command, then you simply use the command and enforce it after she knows it. The same article also contains the Desensitize method - which I recommend following also. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Barking at Guests/the door: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpzvqN9JNUA Noises - this same training can be done when pup sees something that they tend to bark at, opposed to when they hear it, rewarding the dog whenever they don't bark while they are looking at something they would normally bark at. Practicing over and over again until the barking trigger becomes boring to your dog. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jp_l9C1yT1g Finally, you can give something other than staring out the window barking to do by giving them dog-food stuffed hollow chew toys like kongs, kong wobbles, treat puzzles, or an automatic treat dispensing device, like AutoTrainer or Pet Tutor, many of which can be programmed to periodically release a treat when it detects pup is being quiet. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Poppy
Labrador Retriever
8 Months
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Poppy
Labrador Retriever
8 Months

When she was very little we did a good job socializing her and taking her to as many new places as possible. We moved houses in November and Within the last month or two she has started to bark at every single person we meet. And along with barking she exhibits some skiddish behavior. She will tuck her tail between her legs and be very shy. When we are home she almost never barks except when we go outside and the neighbors come out, she wont even go up to the fence, instead she will just bark continuously until she is removed from the situation. We are still training and have made some progress but I would like to be able to take my dog places with us as she gets older.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
842 Dog owners recommended

Hello Aaron, Has she exhibited any aggression while barking? Or is she simply overly sensitive to other people or nervous? If aggressive, I would seek the help of a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues like aggression, who comes well recommended by their previous clients who had similar training needs, and who works with a staff or team of trainers so that their are numerous people who can practice the training methods with pup, who know how to interact with her. If pup is simply more nervous or overly sensitive to new people, possibility due to some insecurity related to the move, I would work on desensitizing pup and helping her associate new people with good things. Check out the Youtube videos I have linked below, and the article on shy dogs and section of shy dogs and humans. If pup is aggressive, additional safety measures will needed though and the supervision of a qualified trainer - not all trainers work with aggression, so you will need to ask about experience in that area and look for one who advertises they do and gets good referrals for that type of training. Barking on a walk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JY7JrteQBOQ Barking at strangers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXCELHDT2fs Shy dogs - if any aggression may be present a basket muzzle should be used any time pup is around those they are reactive towards, for everyone's safety. You can introduce ons ahead of time gradually using treats, so the muzzle becomes normal and not stressful or associated with new people only. Shy dogs and humans section: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-socialize-a-shy-dog/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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WRX ("Rex")
Australian Shepherd
4 Months
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WRX ("Rex")
Australian Shepherd
4 Months

My 4 month old puppy shows signs of being excited to see strangers (full wagging tail, ears perked up not pinned back, etc) but he barks his head off and is hesitant to let strangers pet him. He will kind of approach them slowly but if the person offers their hand for him to sniff he backs away slightly never quite letting them get close enough. He eventually keeps the barking to a minimal where a majority of the time he is mostly ignoring the stranger, but will often throw in random barks especially if the stranger suddenly gives them attention again. I'm just confused by the behavior because it seems like he really wants the to play but then doesn't show any affection or want them to touch him. Any training tips for showing him the correct behavior around strangers?

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
227 Dog owners recommended

Hello. Barking and excitability can be a challenging behavior to turn around. Because it is so complex, I am sending you an article full of great information that can help you. https://www.petplace.com/article/dogs/pet-behavior-training/excessive-barking-in-dogs/

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Luna
Alusky
8 Weeks
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Luna
Alusky
8 Weeks

We adopted our alusky puppy and she has only been with us 3 days she’s been a little nervous since coming home but generally great. However when friends come to visit she is clearly really scared and begins to bark and growl. She’s come from a rural home with 6 siblings. This still happens when people are appropriate and quiet with her and certainly make efforts not to overwhelm her. We try reinforcement with treats to distract her but she is still very nervous and skittish. Hoping for some advice as obviously she is young and want to nip this behaviour in the bud before she’s bigger and more intimidating! Please help!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
842 Dog owners recommended

Hello Richard, Check out the article I have linked below and especially he section on Shy Dogs and Humans. I would also try to intentionally get pup around others, at first from a distance, as many times a week as you can (you can carry pup places that aren't safe for them to be on the ground if not finished with vaccines yet). Shy dogs and humans: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-socialize-a-shy-dog/ Carry treats with you and give pup one whenever they respond calmly, curiously, or friendly to someone or something new, watch pup when they first see someone and haven't decided yet if they should bark - in that second ask happy and excited about it yourself and reward to help pup decide it's okay before the fear reaction. Check out this article below also. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/puppy-classes-when-to-start/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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