Updated: Aug 29
You're sitting on your couch watching television with your dog quietly relaxing beside you. Every dog owner's perfect evening! Then someone decides to walk down the street in front of your home. Suddenly your perfect evening is interrupted by your dog barking and rushing towards the front windows. Barking at strangers passing by in front of a home is a common complaint of dog owners. There's even the old joke about dogs chasing mailmen away. So why do dogs feel the need to bark at everyone coming close to their home?
Depending on your dog, the reason behind the behavior varies greatly. They may feel the need to protect their territory. They may be alerting their family (you) of impending danger. They may be really excited to see someone outside and not understand how that stranger could possibly pass without petting the most friendly and beautiful dog in the world! Whatever the actual reason for the barking, it's probably being rewarded in one way or another. If they are barking to make the person go away, they are successful. At least in their eyes, they are. They barked, and the person walked away. Success! If they are barking for attention then they are successful in getting it from you when you scold them or tell them to be quiet. Sometimes, even negative attention is attention.
Now, there are quite a few dog training things we can do to help you with your problem, but this isn't that post. The goal of this post is to find a quick, elegant solution for your very loud problem. If your problem is more than just a minor annoyance then I strongly recommend we talk about those dog training things before the issue gets out of hand. If however, you are more looking to manage the situation then you've come to the right place!
While training is one of the most important things you can do for your dog, it's okay to sometimes just work around a problem. Especially when that problem is really only causing some minor frustrations. In fact, management is the very first thing that a good trainer should look at when handling any behavior modification issue. Without management of a behavior issue, the behavior modification program will not be successful.
For this particular issue, my favorite solution is window film! It's so easy! There are some beautiful ones that you can purchase online or in home improvement stores. I have some up on my front window right now that has a leaf pattern on it. When the sun shines through it the leaves create a prism effect which is just beautiful. I love this solution because it will still allow light into your home but it will not allow your dog to see people outside. There's the added bonus of being able to keep your windows open all the time without people being able to see into your home. You can also pick and choose where to put it. If you prefer to not cover the entire window you can put it on just the bottom half of the windows so it blocks your dog's view but not yours.
Not sure if this will actually work for your dog? Try it out before you spend the time and money. You can tape up some wax paper or even use bubble wrap to mimic the window film. Simply clean the window, spray on a small amount of water, and stick the bubble wrap directly to the window. You will need to make sure to get the bubble wrap that has the very small bubbles, not the larger ones everyone loves to pop.
Some dogs, especially dogs that are territorial, will actually find the inability to see out of the window a bit of a relief. Many times, territorial dogs feel like they have to be on patrol 24/7 and they have no time to rest. This can be stressful and cause even more issues to crop up. Imagine if you felt like you had to do your job 24 hours a day with no time off! By blocking the view you are telling your territorial dog that they can now relax. It's time to take a break. If you do start reactivity training you will find it easier and faster if you allow them time to take a break from their day job of telling those darn kids to get off your lawn.