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We just adopted Macy about a month ago. She was a stray for 10 months. She barks horribly when someone comes to the house. The cable guy came, she went ballistic and he asked me to put her outside. I did and after he left, she didn’t want to come in. She is afraid of everything, and even barks horribly at one of us when we come into a room. What can we do to stop the barking?
I want to start off by thanking you for adopting.
Fear can be a tough one to conquer. The best way to conquer this is to help Macy build some confidence. Building confidence in the instance means being reassured that no one is going to hurt her. In this example, when someone walks in the door she starts barking. I assume this is fear related as you mentioned in your question that she is a fearful dog. What I recommend doing is having people toss her things she enjoys when they walk in. With repetition, she will start to view guests as things she enjoys instead of fears. It should look something like this:
-People knock on door.
-Macy starts barking.
-You place her on leash and hold her, or tether her to something. (The further away she is from the door the more comfortable she should feel.)
-Invite the guests in and have them toss the treats directly at her and then walk away. The guests should not linger or stare at her! (If you know people are coming have a note on the door and a basket that has a couple of her favorite things in it. I recommend telling them what to expect prior to their arrival.)
*Have them toss the treats regardless of how she is acting. (Even if she is barking.) We are building an association, not training a behavior. With repetition the barking should start to fade out on its own because we are taking away the cause of the barking.
In regards to her barking at you guys, I would do the exact same thing. With repetition she will start to associate you guys coming in the room with wonderful things. In general with her, it is important that she gets out to explore the world. When doing this pair it with things she loves and let her move at her own pace. If you come across something that really startles her take baby steps to get through it. Forcing her through it will most likely just make the fear even worse.
Stay patient and consistent. It will take some time to work through this but it is very possible.
Thank you for the question!
Kevin Duggan CPDT-KA
Kevin is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT.org) and is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator through the American Kennel Club. He currently resides in Ohio with his dog, V, a six-year-old Shepherd/Lab mix, where he operates All Dogs Go To Kevin, LLC, specializing in helping build positive relationships between humans and their canine companions using clear communication, not pain and fear. For more training tips and tricks, and to meet his amazing dog, V, follow him on Facebook by clicking here.