Teach Your Dog to Stop Barking at the Mailman

Curb territorial barking.

Is your dog an alert barker who likes to let you know when people are passing by outside? Check out Becker’s advice on teaching your dog the “look” game, where you calmly say the word "look" to bring attention to what she’s barking at, then teach her that the sight or sound is her cue to remain quiet for a reward.

Get into character.

Think the mail carrier’s outfit, bulky bag or packages may be scaring your dog? Get your pup used to people in uniform by buying or renting a costume, or even just procuring a hat and large bag, and enlisting a willing friend or family member to dress up and break out her best acting skills. Have her come to your door and let your dog have a positive interaction with her. Becker suggests starting with the "look" game with the familiar person outside the door and then progressing to having your dog in a sitting position or on her mat, using a leash or gate as a barrier for safety, while your friend cracks the door — without donning a costume at this point. Rewardyour dog if she remains in place. Once she is comfortable with the friend, progress to her opening the door further and you picking up or pretending to sign for a package. Eventually, as your dog remains in place and relaxed, progress to your friend wearing the costume. If your dog gets upset at any point, go back to an earlier step. Becker says she uses costumes in her puppy classes, so the dogs can get used to people in uniform as part of their socialization, but this trick can be helpful for dogs of any age.

Give your pooch some alternative behaviors.

Teach your dog to do something other than bark when she sees the mail carrier or when he rings the doorbell to alert you that a package has arrived. One technique Becker uses to redirect a doorbell response is training a dog to go to her mat upon hearing the sound. She also recommends teaching your dog to speak and be quiet. You can teach your dog to be quiet when asked, but she needs to know the "speak" command first. Teaching your dog to be quiet is a way of telling her what to do in place of barking, and then you can reward her efforts.

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