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How to Get Your Dog to Stop Barking at Guests

Learn what to do if your dog barks endlessly at guests.

By
Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
August 9, 2010
Episode #073

Page 1 of 4

Some dogs bark at the doorbell; some dogs bark at visitors; and some dogs bark at both. I talked about doorbell mania in an earlier article; this week, I’ll discuss how to help dogs who bark endlessly when visitors come in, then bark when the visitor gets up again, or laughs loudly, or comes back into the room after going out.

How to Get Your Dog to Stop Barking at Guests

The kind of barking I describe at the start of this article--it goes on for a long time, and it starts up again whenever the visitor moves around--teeters on the edge of aggression and sometimes falls right in. If your dog never quite relaxes while someone’s visiting, or if her barks are mixed with growls, or if she advances and retreats to and from the visitor, or if she ever snaps, nips, or outright bites, the tips I offer may be a good start but you should also get competent professional help.  The same goes if people never quite seem to become familiar to her--if the same person can come over a half-dozen times but she always responds with as much agitation as if this were the first time she’d ever seen him.

Take a Walk with Your Guest

A great tactic for many dogs who are uneasy with people entering the house is to meet the visitor outside, even take a short walk together--to the end of the block and back is usually enough.  Then send your visitor into your house ahead of you and give her a couple of minutes to get settled. Now bring your dog in.

Many dogs seem to feel more threatened when a visitor enters their space than they do if they enter to find the visitor already there.

Many dogs seem to feel more threatened when a visitor enters their space than they do if they enter to find the visitor already there. We tend to ascribe their response to territoriality, but I think it might also connect with anxiety about being stuck in an enclosed space while a potential threat approaches. Whatever the reason, for some percentage of dogs who are leery of visitors, the outdoor meeting plus having the visitor go inside first is enough to settle their nerves and help them relax. That also works wonders for friendly but extremely excitable dogs, by the way.

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