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Intruders, Stay Away: How to Train Your Dog to Bark at Strangers

By Aviram K.
Published in Training & Behavior
December 20, 2022
4 min read
Intruders, Stay Away: How to Train Your Dog to Bark at Strangers
✏️ This article has been reviewed in accordance with our editorial policy.
🏥 The information in this article is not a substitute for professional help.

You’ve washed your face, brushed your teeth, and turned down the covers. You jump in bed and turn off the light.

Time to go to sleep!

But as you drift off to beddy-bye land, you hear wrestling around your window. The wrestling quickly turns into banging, and your heart sinks…someone is definitely trying to break in!

Immediately, your dog jumps to action and starts barking like crazy. Almost instantly, the noise stops, and you hear the sound of footsteps running off into the distance.

Wow, your pup’s barking scared the intruder away. Thank goodness!

It’s natural for dogs to want to protect their territory, and the sound of a stranger approaching can trigger this instinct. But what if you want to take things a step further and actually teach your dog to bark at strangers?

Training your dog to bark at strangers is relatively simple, but it is a double-edged sword. If not careful, you can accidentally teach your dog to bark at everything, causing you more harm than good.

In this article, I will tell you exactly how to teach your dog to bark at strangers. I will also share a word of caution to keep in mind as you train your dog to bark at strangers.

Barking at strangers can be a useful skill for your pup to have. It may even save your life!

But as you train your pup to bark at strangers, you’ll want to ensure you do it right. You don’t want them to be barking at everything in sight!

Join me as I reveal how to teach your dog to bark at strangers while keeping excessive barking to a minimum.

Let’s go!

Table of Contents
01
Teaching Your Dog to Bark at Strangers
02
Caveat: Be Careful What You Wish For
03
Barking: A Super Power Under Control

Teaching Your Dog to Bark at Strangers

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You know your pup. It’s obvious to you that they’re friendly and full of love and that they’d never hurt a fly.

But sometimes, it’s easy to forget that your sweet doggy friend can also protect you. Your pup’s barks can work to intimidate and keep the wrong people away.

Cool!

So, how do you harness the power of your dog’s barks to keep strangers away?

Simply train them to bark at strangers.

Here are a few easy steps to do this:

Make a Plan

Get really specific about when and under what circumstances you want your dog to bark at strangers: only at home? When you’re out and about too? Would you like them to bark only at a certain entrance of your home?

After you’ve defined when and where you’d like your dog to bark, you can get started with the training.

Phone a Friend

Employ the help of a friend or two to play the role of “stranger” during your dog training sessions. Simply ask this friend to bang around or knock on the door outside or wherever you’d like your dog to bark at strangers.

It doesn’t really matter if the person playing a stranger is technically a true stranger to your dog. If this person is knocking outside and won’t be seen, all that really matters is that they make enough noise to be heard by your pup.

Use Commands

As your friend makes noise, use simple commands like “speak” to prompt your pup to bark. Your dog may also bark on their own naturally when they hear the sounds of the “stranger,” which is great!

Tip: Before you start training your dog to bark at strangers, you’ll probably want to make sure your dog has a good amount of basic training. This means they understand easy commands like “sit” or “stay” before moving on to slightly more advanced training.

Coax Your Pup

If your dog isn’t barking at the noises your friend is making, you can try to coax or talk your pup into barking. When your friend makes noise, you can ask your pup questions like “what’s that?” or “what do you hear?”

When done repetitively, this kind of coaxing can produce a pup who barks at people or noises they are curious about.

Use Treats and Praise

When your dog has responded appropriately to the stranger’s noises by barking, go ahead and shower them with positive reinforcement!

Frequent treats and praise for a job well done will encourage your pup to keep barking at the sound of strangers.

Caveat: Be Careful What You Wish For

You trained your pup to bark at strangers, and they’re totally listening to you! You’ve taught them how to bark on cue, and you’re so proud.

But be careful what you wish for!

Now that you’ve taught your dog how to bark at strangers, you’ll want to ensure you keep this barking under control. You don’t want your dog barking at anything and everything.

Too much barking may become taxing for you and your loved ones. A dog who barks at everything can also quickly turn into the boy who cried wolf. It can be hard to take their barks seriously after a while!

It can also make your dog more aggressive, as you are essentially reinforcing an unpleasant behavior, which your dog may use at other times.

Here are some tips to ensure that your dog only barks at strangers, not all the time:

  • Only reward your dog with praise and treats when they bark at exactly what you want them to bark at
  • Stay consistent; don’t reward or scold your dog for barking in ways that are confusing to them
  • Don’t make a big deal out of it if your dog doesn’t bark when you want them to, as this can reinforce them barking even more
  • Refuse to scream, scold or punish your pup harshly when they don’t get it right
  • If your pup barks when you don’t want them to, you can always command them to stop and reward them with a treat when they bark at the right time

Barking: A Super Power Under Control

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There’s no doubt about it; barking at strangers is a valuable skill for your dog to have. If your pup is trained to do this automatically, it’s a downright superpower!

Your pup’s barks have the ability to protect you and your home by alerting you when someone is trespassing, day or night. This can help keep you, your family, and your valuables safer.

But a barking pup with no brakes can turn bad quickly. A dog’s constant barking can become grating and also produce false alarms. If everything deserves a bark, it’s hard to know when it’s an emergency!

Thankfully, through patience and proper training, you can teach your pup to bark exactly when you want them to and never when you don’t!


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Dog BehaviorsDog Training
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