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How to Stop a Dog from Barking at Visitors: 5 Effective Ways

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By Nicole Cosgrove

belgian sheepdog malinois barking

Most dogs bark at visitors. This is an extremely common occurrence and misbehavior in the dog world, so you should not be surprised if your dog seems to bark incessantly whenever someone walks through the door. Luckily, there is actually a lot that you can do to minimize barking and even stop it in its tracks.

There is no silver bullet for barking. Instead, you’ll have to rely on training and similar methods to teach your dog not to bark. We’ll go over some of the easiest ways to stop this barking below.

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The 5 Ways to Stop a Dog from Barking at Visitors

1. Train Your Dog Not to Bark

Of course, training your dog not to bark is much easier said than done. First, you’ll need to train your dog to “speak.” Only then will you be able to effectively teach them not to speak. Luckily, teaching your dog to speak is often very easy, especially if you already have a noisy dog.

First, you’ll simply need to find a way to make them bark. You know your dog better than us, so you likely already have a few ideas. Once you’ve figured out a cue, simply add the phrase “speak” to it, and reward your dog. Eventually, you can ask your dog to speak on command.

Next, you can teach the “hush” command by teaching it right after the “speak” command. Your dog will learn that “hush” occurs at the end of barking. So, whenever they are barking, they should quiet up when they hear this command.

Of course, this method requires quite a bit of work, since you do need to train your dog in two different commands first. However, it is quite effective when used correctly.

2. Ultrasonic Control Methods

You can also use ultrasonic devices to make barking a bit less fun for your pooch. Simply speaking, these tools send out an ultrasonic noise that only your dog can hear. Typically, dogs do not like it very much. Therefore, once they start associating this noise with barking, they may quit barking quite as much.

The major problem with this tool is that it isn’t quite as effective as other methods out there. When your dog has a reason to bark (like when you have a visitor), it may not be enough to deter them from barking. Therefore, we highly recommend that you use this method alongside one of the others on this list.

For instance, this method may work great when paired with training—even if neither method is effective by itself.

CSB19 Anti Barking Device

3. Give Your Dog a Safe Space

Sometimes, dogs just get too wound up when someone comes by to stop barking and even listen to commands. In these cases, having a spot where your dog can cool off is vital. We recommend having a bed at the back of the house or even a crate (with the door open) that you can designate as your dog’s space.

When someone comes over, we recommend sending your dog to their space before you even open the door. You can use your canine “bed” for this purpose. Be sure to really nail down this command, since it is often difficult for your dog to listen when they are excited.

You may want to crate train your dog for this purpose, as well. When done correctly, crate training gives your dog a space to call their own. The crate should never be used as a punishment. Instead, your dog should get special treats and chews there. They should want to go to their crate.

4. Desensitize Them to Strangers

While some dogs bark at visitors because they are excited, others bark because they are scared. If your dog falls into this latter category, we recommend conditioning your dog to liking strangers—or at least not be so scared of them anymore.

Often, this process is pretty easy. All you need is a friend that is willing to help. Start by having your friend quite a distance away from your dog. Then, find your dog’s edge—the closest point that they can tolerate your friend’s presence without barking. You may even need your friend to be outside. Either way, it’s okay.

Next, when your dog doesn’t bark, give them a treat and lots of praise. Then, slowly move your friend closer. If your dog doesn’t bark, give them a treat and more praise. Only make very gradual progress. Eventually, your friend can come inside and then leave right away.

Whenever your dog doesn’t bark, give them a treat.

dog trainer vet talking to man with dog
Photo Credit: Cultura Motion, Shutterstock

5. Use Pheromones

For very stressed-out dogs, we recommend considering calming pheromones of some sort. While this is more of a band-aid instead of a fix, it is useful for preventing barking in the meantime. Most of the other methods require a bit of time to do properly, so you may need a faster solution when possible.

There are many collars, sprays, and diffusers that release calming pheromones that may prevent your dog from barking quite as much. Dogs react differently to these pheromones, so it all depends on your canine. Still, they are worth a try in many cases.

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No one wants to be greeted at a house by a yappy dog. There are quite a few training methods out there, but the most effective option is to teach your dog “speak” and then “hush”.

There are also other methods that may help you on this quest, such as using pheromone sprays and ultrasonic tools. If your dog is scared of strangers, we highly recommend desensitizing them to strangers as necessary. You may also want to create a safe space for your dog that they can go to relax when necessary.

Either way, all of these methods work best when put together. Therefore, you may want to choose a few options to try instead of just one.

Featured Photo Credit: cynoclub, Shutterstock

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