How to Get Your Dog to Stop Barking at Guests

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

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
5-minute read
Episode #073
Dog barking at guests

Check Your Dog’s Body Language

Okay, your visitor and your dog are both inside. Now check out your dog’s body language. Is he holding his body loose and comfortable, or is he still tense? Is he approaching your visitor with squinty eyes, a softly open mouth, and easy wags or fast butt wiggles? Or is he pacing at a distance? Has he lain down, but facing your guest head-on and vigilant? Did he start to bark when your visitor said hi?

How Should Guests Act Around Shy Dogs?

If your dog’s showing some friendly interest but isn’t quite relaxed, your guest should completely ignore her. Kind humans tend to respond to anxious dogs by trying to engage them and make friends; unfortunately, anxious dogs usually respond to that form of attention by getting more anxious still. Left to herself, a slightly shy dog may eventually check out your guest with soft, friendly body language; at that point, the guest might feed her a treat or offer a little scritch under the chin. No looming over the shy dog, please, and no grabbing her or following her if she retreats.

You should also manage the situation for everyone’s comfort and safety if your dog is still acting overtly tense. Some dogs do best when crated in another room.

Should You Put Your Dog in a Crate When Guests Come Over?

Most of us like to have our dogs near us; otherwise we wouldn’t have dogs. To crate your dog in another room may feel like excluding or even exiling him.


About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).

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