Barking: Barking and Guarding

If a dog is guarding he will be barking to protect himself and his family, or to alert you to potential threats. He may also wag his tail and appear to be excited. Guarding behaviour should stop once the ‘threat’ has gone e.g. once you have answered the doorbell and he recognises the visitor as a friend. Your dog may be a 'guarding breed' or crossbreed, or he may have been encouraged to bark at the doorbell from an early age.

  • Provide your dog with a mat or a bed and place it near the door – but out of the way. At quiet times, teach your dog to lay down on his mat, using a new command word, e.g. “mat!” and using lots of really tasty treats. Repeat this often until you are able to use the command word from another room, and he’ll run to his mat to wait for his treat.
  • Now ask a friend to help by ringing the doorbell. Send your dog to the mat and give him lots of praise and rewards when he lies in the correct place. Repeat this several times until he gets the idea. This will be when he goes to his mat and lays down without being told, whenever the doorbell rings.
  • Keep a pot of treats by the door, so that visitors can toss him a treat as they enter if he is quiet and relaxed on his mat.
  • As is the case for frustration (see link below). unwanted guarding behaviour can become worse if your dog is hungry. Make sure your dog has plenty to eat throughout the day. Several smaller meals are far better than one large meal.
  • If you are worried that your dog’s guarding behaviour may become aggressive please ask your vet for a referral to a behaviour specialist.
  • Download a printable factsheet about barking
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