Have you just got a new puppy? If you are a first-time pet owner, you’re probably worried that it may start barking at strangers or your neighbors and create a nuisance.
Well, pups usually start barking at unfamiliar people when they’re 6 months old. Some breeds might start after their first birthday.
In this article, we’ll discuss the average age at which dogs start barking at unfamiliar people and what you should do about it. That’s not all, though. There are other factors that might affect this process. Read on to find out!
A Puppy’s Barking Cycle
From the moment they’re born until they’re 1 or even 2 years, dogs are still considered puppies. It differs between breeds, though. Some large breeds physically mature later than others. You have to take special care of them at this period. At that time, they start to take in a lot more information. You should be careful with what you teach and how you train them because this is when they develop their habits. It’s crucial to understand your puppy’s growth cycle so that you can train them accordingly. But never treat this as a one-size-fits-all plan. Just like humans, each puppy has a unique personality and needs.
Why Is My Dog Not Barking At Strangers
If your puppy is now older than 6 months and still doesn’t bark at strangers, you may be worried, especially if he is a guard dog. But I can assure you, there’s nothing to worry about.
Barking is your dog’s instinct, if he’s not doing it yet, you just have to give him a little boost and let him do the rest. You could introduce your dog to another puppy that does bark. He’ll pick up the habit from his new friend and start doing it himself in no time.
But Early Barking May Be A Bad Sign
On the other hand, if your puppy is still 1 – 2 months old and keeps barking incessantly, there might be a problem. It doesn’t have to necessarily be barking at strangers, just high-pitched screeches all day long.
Take your puppy to a vet, he might be in pain. If everything turns out great, the barking issue should be resolved by training. How? This is what we’ll discuss in the following section.
How Do I Train My Dog To Not Bark At People
Being at home is an excellent time to get some rest, but your dog might not always agree. Dogs can bark loudly and repeatedly, and it doesn’t help if you don’t know how to stop your dog from barking.
How do I stop my dog from barking? The best way to stop your dog from barking is to distract them from what triggers the barking. Here are some helpful tricks:
- Ignore your dog
- Give them treats
- Tell your dog to be quiet
- Play with your dog
- Take your dog to the dog park
- Use planned exposure
- Give your dog some toys
- Use a gentle leader
- Book an appointment with a vet
Be it a car driving by or a loud vacuum, getting your dog’s attention is a quick fix for when they can’t seem to stop barking. Of course, that sounds way too simple. Sometimes, you may not be able to get rid of the stimulus. In that case, you’ll have to get a bit more creative.
Remove the Trigger
The first thing you should try to do is remove what is triggering your dog’s barking. Of course, that means finding the trigger. The Humane Society notes that when done right, removing the trigger can also remove your dog’s association between barking and getting a reward.
Luckily, there are some common triggers that you can look into:
- If your dog sees cars passing by through an open window, they may bark as cars drive by.
- Similarly, people or dogs walking by can also make your dog want to bark. That could be to alert you or just because they see something interesting.
- When your dog gets hungry or thirsty, they might have the urge to bark. Since dogs can’t speak, barking is their best way of communicating with their owners. Other physical needs, like going to do their business, might also make your dog want to bark.
- Sometimes your dog doesn’t need food or water, and they just went outside for a while. At this point, a potential trigger could be that they’re bored or want your attention.
- Your dog’s physical surroundings could also make them want to bark. If they’re in too small of a space, or they can’t move because of their leash, they will use barking to try and get out of that situation.
- According to K9 Control, certain dog breeds are more likely to bark than others. So while it’s not ideal, your dog may be predisposed to barking.
Whatever it is that’s triggering your dog to bark, removing it, or fulfilling your dog’s needs is an easy fix to stop your dog from barking.
Ignore Your Dog
The next thing to try, if removing the trigger doesn’t work, is to ignore your dog. Yes, that can be difficult, especially if your dog has a high-pitched or loud bark.
You can ignore your dog by moving to another room and closing the door. If you can’t do that, you can also put him/her in the dog crate or gated area until the barking stops. When using this method, don’t give in to your dog’s barking. Let your dog bark for as long as they need.
This does take some patience on your part, but giving in shows your dog that barking is good. If they bark, you will pay attention to them. So turn your back away, and be ready to reward them with a treat when your dog does stop barking.
Give Them Treats
What dog doesn’t like to receive a treat? Some dogs are very motivated by food, and they’ll do anything if it means they might get a treat. If that sounds like your dog, you can use treats as positive reinforcement for when your dog stops barking. After you ignore your dog’s barking, you can give them a treat for quieting down.
At first, you should give your dog a treat whenever you get them to stop barking. As they start to associate being quiet with getting a treat, you can begin to give treats once in a while. Then, your dog should want to be quiet on the off chance that you’ll provide them with something.
You can use any treats you like, though smaller ones will be easier if your dog barks often. Smaller treats can also be easier for you to keep on hand for when your dog barks. We recommend Neo bites which can be broken down into small pieces for training or smaller dogs
While treats are an excellent training tool, don’t overuse them. Too many treats can be a bad thing, even if your dog might try to tell you otherwise.
Tell Your Dog to Be Quiet
Sure, you can tell another person to be quiet, and they’ll probably listen. So can dogs, but you’ll have to teach them the “quiet” command. If you’ve ever taught your dog the “speak” command, this is similar. However, this command is the opposite of speaking.
Teaching your dog to be quiet isn’t a quick solution. After all, training your dog to do almost anything will take time and patience. If you haven’t taught your dog to speak, you should do that first. That’s because you want your dog to bark so that you can command them to stop.
Getting your dog to bark on command will give you more control over when they do bark. Once you get them to bark, you can tell them to be quiet.
When your dog is barking at someone that you don’t want him to bark at, use a stern voice as a warning. Use a certain word, phrase, or sound every time like “quite” or “shush”. Your dog will know how you feel, he can feel it in your voice. If he’s not obedient, then he might not respond to your warning if you say it casually.
Treats work well as a reward for teaching your dog both of these skills. Once you teach your dog to speak, you can then use the treats as you teach them to be quiet.
To train your dog, you also need to reward and compliment him when he listens. You can do that by a pat on the head or by rubbing his tummy. If you really want to show him what a good job he has done, reward him with a treat that he really likes.
I suggest trying out the Neo bites if you haven’t decided on the treats yet. It is whole-Food, Human-Grade Superfoods. It is also Allergy & Gut-Friendly.
Play With Your Dog
Playing with your dog can be a great way to stop them from barking later. Odds are that your dog probably likes to bark when you play with them.
As the excitement builds up, your dog wants to show their emotions with barking. In fact, that can be okay in a play situation. During playtime, I normally like to put on a curse collar on them just for a fun LOL
When you want your dog to stop barking, it may seem like playing is the last thing to try. However, playing with your dog will eventually tire them out. As your dog gets tired, it won’t have the energy to perform unnecessary tasks.
So while a tired dog will probably still have the energy to eat or drink water, they won’t want to do much else. That means your tired dog won’t have enough energy to bark and bark at anything that passes by.
This technique isn’t the best option for dogs who bark at random times. On the other hand, it can be handy if you know that something might make your dog want to bark later.
- If you have friends over in the evening, you can play with your dog during the day to tire them out before your guests arrive.
- Before you head to bed, make sure your dog gets enough activity so that they’ll be tired enough to fall asleep, too.
- If your dog likes to bark to go outside, you can watch them and the door. Then, you can be ready to let your dog out before they start to bark.
A play session can be good for your dog and you. Playing with your dog can let your bond with them, and it can make your dog tired for when you don’t want to hear any barking.
Take Your Dog To the Dog Park
Like playing, any form of physical activity can be great for getting your dog to be tired enough not to want to bark. Taking your dog to the local dog park is a great way for you both to get active. However, going to the dog park also exposes your dog to other people and other dogs.
If your dog likes to bark at people and dogs, it may be because they haven’t been around anyone but you. While staying at home isn’t a bad thing, it can make taking your dog out more difficult.
The first few trips to the dog park might involve some barking. Luckily, during those trips, you can use some of the other techniques to get your dog to stop.
At the dog park, let your dog explore their surroundings. Walk them over to other dogs so they can see that other dogs are nothing to worry about. If your dog likes to bark at strangers, you can also show your dog that people are okay.
To make things easier, you can bring some treats to have at the ready. The more you expose your dog to, the less they have to be scared of. For some dogs, that can also mean they have fewer things to bark at.
If your dog loves to bark at seemingly random things, try to expose your dog to them in small doses. Perhaps your dog likes to bark at people as you take your dog on a walk. To get them to stop, ask a friend for some help.
- Start in your home, and have your friend go outside just out of view from your front door. You stay inside with your dog and grab some treats.
- Once your friend is out of sight, take your dog outside.
- Next, your friend should move closer so that they’re barely in view. Now, you give your dog a treat.
- Your friend should then move out of view and wait a few seconds. Then, they can move in view, this time slightly closer than before.
- Each time your friend moves in view, you give your dog a treat and keep their attention.
- As your friend starts to get closer, your dog should learn to look at you for a reward. If you’re successful, your dog will start to associate seeing people with getting a treat.
You can use this same method with other things that might make your dog bark. That could be cars or other dogs or something else entirely.
Give Your Dog Some Toys
This combines a few of the other methods for how to stop your dog from barking. Giving your pooch some toys can serve as a distraction. The right toy can also give your dog something to keep them active.
A great toy to keep your dog active would be a rope since they can chew on the rope on their own. If you have two dogs, they can play tug of war with each other. And of course, there’s fetch. Get your dog a good ball, and you can throw it and have them run back and forth.
If you just need a toy to keep your dog occupied, you can choose anything they might like. Stuffed toys are good. Kongs are especially useful for dogs who like treats or need a bit of a challenge.
Toys can also be a great reward to give your dog when they stop barking. If you don’t want to give your dog treats, you can use a simple toy as their reward for being quiet.
Use a Gentle Leader
Cesar Millan recommends using Gentle Leaders and similar head halters to keep your dog’s mouth closed. A Gentle Leader can provide a slight amount of pressure to help your dog close their mouth when they start to bark.
You can use a Gentle Leader with a leash. Pulling on the leash will apply some of that pressure. These halters are an excellent tool if your dog loves to bark on walks or when otherwise out of the house. However, they may not be the best option to use when you’re at home.
Book An Appointment With A Vet
In most cases, you should be able to get your dog to stop barking at home. However, there may come a time when nothing works. If you try everything you can think of, and your dog still won’t stop barking, take them to the vet.
Your vet can run some tests to see if your dog is experiencing pain or discomfort that might not be visible to you. Even a small issue can cause your dog enough pain to bark and bark.
Your vet may also have other at-home ideas for getting your dog to stop barking. After all, every dog is different. While some dogs may bark for specific reasons, others may have their own motivations.
Things Your Vet Might Find
While a visit to the vet isn’t ideal, it can be a lifesaver if your dog is in serious pain. Various medical issues can cause your dog to bark. Your dog may have stepped on something, and its paw is now in pain.
Dogs can develop tumors and other growths that may require surgery. Like us, our dogs can break their bones or get sick. Taking your dog to the vet is a great way to ensure they’re healthy or get them back to being healthy.
[Related Article: How To Prevent Dog From Jumping Off Bed And Hurt Themselves]
Why Do Dogs Bark
After we discussed when they start, we need to understand why dogs bark in the first place. A dog may bark for several reasons. These include but aren’t limited to:
- To get attention
- In response to a threat
- Pain and Discomfort
The last one may seem a little off for some people, but it’s actually true. As a German Shepard owner, I can confidently say that this breed is one of the noisiest breeds you can ever have.
Pitbulls and Rottweilers, on the other hand, remain quiet most of the time. It depends on how you raised your puppy for the most part.
Puppies take a lot from their owners. If they’re raised in a noisy and lively environment, then chances are that they’re going to be barking all day long. The opposite goes for puppies raised in a calm and quiet environment.
When Barking Is Okay
Sometimes dogs bark for good reason. Since they bark to communicate, if a dog has something to say—he or she will.
One good reason for your dog is to warn you of something. While a lot of “warning barks” are at passersby and other non-issues, your dog doesn’t always know that.
This type of bark can come in handy if a stranger tries to enter your home. Your dog’s bark might even be enough to scare a potential intruder away. The ASPCA also says dogs might bark as a greeting. If your dog barks at you when you come home, it’s their way of saying hello.
While too much barking as a greeting can be bad, a little can be a nice way to interact with your dog. Similarly, knowing when your dog is barking for a good or bad reason can help you figure out what to do. If your dog’s barking is unnecessary, you can do something to stop it.
When your dog is barking for a good reason, you can praise them for being the awesome companion that they are.
Dogs might bark for good reason or bad. Barking at strangers all the time isn’t necessarily a good thing, so don’t be too eager for your dog to bark at any passer-by.
As you can see, there are many techniques to break your dog’s habit. If none of them works, perhaps it’s time to take your pooch to the vet. Quiet is good, but too much quiet could be a sign that something is wrong.
Generally speaking, dogs may start barking at strangers when they hit 6 months old, but some dogs may start later than that. If you want to grow your pup into the perfect guard dog, try consulting a professional. Despite being expensive, this method should yield fast and dependable results.