Dog Barking at People

by Amanda



How do I stop my dog barking at people?

My first dog was killed tragically, leaving our male depressed. My vet advised us to get another dog as a companion to him, so we got a puppy. None in my family planned to get another dog, so we got a puppy as a new start, but even then had trouble bonding. She really earned the attention she got as we were all still grieving our loss.

Slowly we allowed ourselves to get attached and love her. She is very respectful to all members of our family, our personal space, belongings etc, there is no question of who is leader. HOWEVER, she is very protective. She barks at anything that passes the window, including my husband, (not my daughters or myself) and does not trust others who come in the house.

She will eventually take interest and sniff or socialize with company but barks loud to establish herself in the house with them first. I want to socialize her, however upon first greeting not many are willing to 'risk themselves' to pet her or be around her. How can I get her to relax and socialize calmly with others?

Gale's Reply:

Hi Amanda:

There is something about barking at passers-by that is very reinforcing for a dog. People do, in fact, walk away. From Nysa's perspective, she made that happen by barking at them. She doesn't realize they were on their way somewhere else and had no intention of staying or coming into the
house. And so, this behavior is reinforced.

I suspect that one reason Nysa eventually shows interest and starts sniffing house guests is that she realizes she's lost the battle. These people are sticking around despite her display so she may as well check them out.

I suggest you start with your husband. Have him go in front of the window, but instead of walking by, when she barks have him stand there. When she stops barking (which she will eventually) give her a treat and praise her for being quiet.

When your husband comes in the house, same thing. If she's barking, she gets a treat and praise when she stops. You'll likely need to do this repeatedly and with a number of different people over time as this type of habit is usually pretty ingrained.

You could also teach her to 'go to her mat' when the doorbell rings or there's a knock at the door. If your guests don't object, you can release her once they've been there a few minutes and are settled in. For the ones who are 'game' you could give them a treat to give her when she approaches them. After a while, she'll come to realize that good things happen for Nysa when people come to visit.

Feel free to post back and let us know how you're doing. Thanks for sharing the sweet picture

For information on obedience training visit our pit bull training page.

For help with behavioral issues check out our dog behavior training page.

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