Picture this. It's a sunny day, and your dog is sitting happily in your driveway.  And then out of the blue, someone approaches your front gate.

Normally, your dog is relaxed, happy, and confident that they’re in a safe place and that you, their owner, is there if it feels unsafe or uncomfortable.

But now, with a stranger approaching, your dogs thinking changes.  And it’s thoughts run something like this…

“What’s happening? Someone’s coming.  Who are they? Oh no, I need to D-E-F-E-N-D the property.  I’ll do anything I need to, too scare them off! JUMP UP, BARK, GROWL, RUN AROUND.  You are NOT coming in!”

Does this sound familiar?  You are not alone.  It’s a more common problem than you may think. 

When a dog barks at passers-by, they perceive the front yard or driveway as an area they are supposed to dominate and protect.  That might be a good thing if you're training a guard dog, but it's absolutely not what you want for your pet.  Here's how you can break the cycle.

4 Steps To Stop Your Dog Barking At Passers By:

Step 1

Re-create the situation over and over again to start fixing it

  • Dogs need to stop thinking they need to defend and protect their property. 
  • We want to flip their thinking to “Someone is coming…I’ll go back to the house and sit on my bed.” 
  • This is going to be difficult for some so you may have to ask family, friends or neighbours to help you out and play the role of delivery driver, visitor or passer-by over and over again. 
  • It is important to have them text you to let you know when they are going to arrive so you can simulate and repeat the scenario until your dog learns the new behaviour.

Step 2

Start the training with you present and the dog on the lead. 

  • The good thing about knowing you'll have visitors is that you can intervene when they arrive. 
  • When a visitor approaches your house or gate and your dog begins to bark, use the 'leave' command (or something you already use), point at the house and say 'in', and walk the dog inside.

Step 3

Lay out a treat but don’t reward your dog until the visit is over. 

  • Place a treat on the floor next to them once they are inside but tell them they cannot have it just yet.
  • Again, using the ‘leave’ command (or similar).  
  • While your dog is sitting, go and see your visitor, then come back and reward them and praise them, if they behaved right.

Step 4

Repeat without the lead. 

  • Having learned step two and three with you and the lead at their disposal, your dog should be able to do the same without the lead pretty soon. 
  • Just keep repeating this process and before you know it they'll be peacefully waiting, super chilled and ready to receive their treat.

Step 5

It’s never too late to learn.