Why doesn’t the dog bark at strangers? How to teach him when it’s important to signal

Hangai Lilla

2023. August 5 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

This situation can be particularly frustrating if the dog lives in a house with a garden and is also used as a guard dog. Some four-legged friends are very friendly and curious, even with strangers.


When the dog barks, it is not only useful for deterring burglars, but it is also a great way to signal when someone is coming to your house. Here are a few tips to teach your dog to signal when a stranger is approaching, despite his friendly nature. If you get stuck in the process, we definitely recommend you ask a professional trainer for help!

The first step is to teach your dog to “talk”

Barking is an inherited means of communication in dogs. They also use it to exchange information with their own species, humans and other animals. So to train your pet to signal you when a stranger approaches the house, you first need to teach him how to use his voice.

Before you can control when your dog barks, you need to teach him the “bark” command. If your dog gets excited about something, encourage him with the “bark” command. Praise him and give him a reward treat when he lets out his voice. He’ll soon understand, if you’re consistent, that when you say “bark” he should bark.

The second step is to learn when to be quiet

If the “bark” command is already working correctly, you now need another command word to stop the process. You can also use “silence” or “listen”, whichever is more convenient. When the dog starts barking, pronounce the new command word clearly, understandably, without shouting, and wait. Once the four-legged friend is silent, you can go on to the praise and reward wall.

Here it may take a little more time for your pet to understand what you want and for the lessons to sink in, but don’t give up! If you are calm and balanced during the learning process, the dog will be too.

For the third step, you’ll need a friend

Once the words “bark” and “quiet” are firmly in your dog’s repertoire, it’s time to move on to more exciting territory. To do this, you’ll need a friend or acquaintance to do a little charity work. It’s OK if your dog knows this person, and it’s OK if they don’t.

You and the dog should wait in the apartment while you ask your friend to ring the doorbell or knock on the door. If the dog doesn’t automatically respond to the noise, walk to the door and give the “bark” command and reward him if he obeys. Repeat this until the dog barks on its own when it hears a knock or a bell.

In the fourth step, you learn the difference between a stranger and a friend

Once your pet is responding to noises outside the door, it’s time to distinguish between friend and stranger. After they knock and he barks, go to the door and invite whoever is helping you in. Now you need to signal to the dog that the person who has arrived is a friend and he can relax. You can use the word “friend” and stroke the dog’s head. You can also use the word “okay”, the point is that there should be some positive reinforcement in your interaction. It’s worth repeating this a few times with different people to make sure the difference is ingrained.

The training can take up to 3-6 weeks, so it will require a lot of patience and determination on your part, but it can be taught to all dogs almost without exception. However, it is not worth starting until you are confident with the 4 basic commands (sit, down, stay, come).

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