August 18, 2015 | Posted in Doctor Sigmund Furry Series

Hark-Hark-HarkDear Dr. Furry,

I know dogs bark when they are excited or afraid or sometimes just to say “hello”.  My dog barks anytime someone new comes to the door. When I get him calmed down, he barks again whenever that person gets up, sits down again or walks around. Why does he do this and how can I get him to stop?

Paul, Weymouth, MA


Dear Paul,

Dogs usually bark when their sense of ease and familiarity has been interrupted by any person, place, thing or sound. Incessant barking translates into a warning to you that something threatening, unfriendly, or scary is about to happen. Whether or not this is the actual case, the only way a dog can tell you about it, is to bark … and bark … and bark.

But, the noise!!  I know. I know. This can be worse than raising kids. Eventually, the kids grow up and go away. Or, they play rock music too loud . . . which is a whole different story. . .

Your dog, on the other hand, barks to tell you someone is at your door — if you haven’t figured that out, already. (‘Doesn’t matter. The dog doesn’t know if you’ve figured it out, or not so he barks.)

You, as a responsible and loving pet owner, have to use some reverse psychology when direct psychology fails! (Direct psychology is saying things to the dog like, “STOP IT!” or “SSSHHHHH!” or — my personal favorite — “WHY are you barking?”)

Re-direction is the solution. Designate a special “dog control” space in your house that can be separated or sectioned off from common family areas. Sometimes, the simple use of a baby gate will make this division clear to the dog. When your doggie is guided into this area, you are telling him in dog-speak that YOU have things and guests under control.

A little preparation before company arrives may include giving the dog a treat with the command, “Wait”. If you’re not sure if he will actually wait, some people have suggested leashing the dog in a “sit/stay” position and then gently lifting up on the leash. This generally causes the dog to look at you, giving you more control.

Another touch is to have someone visiting give the dog a treat as a way of saying hello. Your beloved furry one can then be guided back to his separate space.

You may have to withstand some residual barking in this training process — or resign yourself to going out with friends bearing dog treats for some peace and quiet.