Persistent barking can become a big issue, for you and your neighbours. If a dog starts guarding his home, an object or a person, problematic situations can arise. It can be difficult to know how to act if, for example, the dog starts guarding the sofa and shows it by growling, barking or lunging.
The right kind of exercise
Make sure your dog is getting the right kind of training and exercise from the start. They need to accumulate positive experiences to reduce the risk that it will become insecure and start guarding things in the home. Take a puppy course where the dog gets the opportunity to stay close to other dogs and people under controlled conditions. You will both benefit from it, and enjoy it.
Breaking a habit of guard behaviour requires training and knowledge. It is important to think about the situations the dog finds itself in, if you have a dog with a pronounced guarding instinct, it is a good idea to think about whether it is, for example, appropriate to leave it alone in the garden if you do not want it to guard when someone is coming.
If you have a dog that shows resource aggression where, for example, it guards an object, it is very important not to reprimand the dog when it growls or lunges because it often reinforces the behaviour. A dog that guards "its" things is fundamentally insecure and does not trust that it can have things in peace. You need to work on the relationship so that the dog feels safe. It is important to think about safety in the situations the dog tends to guard and learn to read your dog.
It is especially important if there are children in the family. Make sure the dog always has a place where he can go away and be undisturbed, preferably screen it off with a baby gate or use a crate.
Does your dog bark at visitors?
If you have a dog that barks when visitors come, it is good to think about why. Do they alert you when someone is coming, then relax? Or do they become uncertain?
If your dog is a bit cautious, you can gently show that the visitor is nothing to be afraid of, but you should absolutely not force or entice the dog to greet someone. This can make the dog more insecure. Give them time and avoid standing in a crowded space and welcoming the guests. For an insecure dog it can be easier to meet outside and go for a short walk and then go inside together.
Reward with treats
If the dog barks because it is happy, you must try to stop the barking. Begin the training by teaching your dog to look for treats on the floor when a visitor appears. The goal is for it to think it's a great fun game, then it will be easier for them to manage to look for treats even when they're running around.
Use a really tasty dog treat and feel free to get help from a family member or friend who knocks or rings the doorbell. Let the dog search for a bunch of treats that you throw out on the floor, if it is difficult for the dog to focus on searching, you may need to help by pointing. Eventually, your dog will learn that a knock at the door means to look for treats.
When dogs use their nose, they slow down. They find it calming to eat, which leads to less barking. This should create a different feeling when guests arrive - in the long run means you have the opportunity to get the dog to stop barking completely.
Enlist some help
If you have a dog that shows insecurity towards family members or guests by growling or lashing out, it is important not to expose it or your guests to situations where the behaviour may occur. In order to train them to become safe and come to terms with the behaviour, it is important to proceed slowly.
Enlist the help of a dog psychologist or experienced instructor who works exclusively with positive methods who can design a training program, guide and support.
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