How to Stop Dog Barking At and Trying to Bite Passersby?

by Sara
(Florida)

How to Stop a Barking Shih Tzu

How to Stop a Barking Shih Tzu

Question

My Bella is a sweet dog until somebody passes by us and also when she sees somebody in the yard or anywhere near the house.

How can I correct this behavior?



Readers Comments

Karen Says

My shihtzu does the same thing. this is what I do. when he starts that, I stop, place my hands gently around his neck & tell him no. that is how their mothers chastise them when they are babies.

It works, but it takes some doing x 3 or 4 before they understand that command.



OurAnswer - Some Ideas for How to Stop Dog Barking

Sara, it sounds like your little Lion Dog is remembering her days as a palace guard. If the problem is limited to barking when people come to your house or near you, it sounds like she’s an over-eager guardian. Some theories of dog behavior might suggest that Bella is exhibiting “alpha” behavior because you aren’t. She may feel it’s up to her to keep her territory safe because you aren’t leading the pack.

That’s one theory for a barking dog problem and it may or may not apply in your case.

Does Bella get daily walks; is she left alone for long periods? Do you exercise her mind regularly with obedience training or playing fetch? A lack of stimulation, exercise or companionship can lead to excessive barking. But let’s assume all of these needs are met.

The American Shih Tzu Club reminds us that barking is a self-rewarding behavior. When Bella barks at someone who’s just walking by they probably keep on walking. In her mind she’s been successful at scaring them off. If you appear to be upset or yell at her she may interpret it as you barking along with her, and that’s icing on her doggie cake; it means she’s led the pack in successfully eliminating intruders.


For an adult shih tzu, dog training to stop barking is a challenge, but it’s not impossible. The key is consistency, in other words barking must never be acceptable. The goal of zero barking is a difficult one because sometimes we like it when our dogs bark. To teach Bella not to bark at passersby you must teach her not to bark at all.

Tips for How To Stop Dog Barking


The “throw can” method of dog barking training is successful in teaching puppies not to bark, but can have good results with adult dogs too.

  • Put a few coins into a metal can and tape up the top.
  • Shake the can vigorously when Bella barks. As soon as she stops barking stop shaking the can. Praise and reward her.
  • Toss the can towards the door or window (never at the dog) when she barks at people walking by on the street. Give praise and reward when she stops barking.

Another option for controlling barking is to give Bella an alternate command when she barks. When she’s calm, work on the command “lay down.” Be consistent with training, spend no more than 10 minutes once or twice a day practicing and always end on a positive note. When Bella barks give her the command to “lay down,” and praise her when she obeys.

Because Shih Tzus tend to be sensitive to discipline it’s always important to utilize positive training methods, and avoid scolding or negative reinforcement when possible. Teaching a dog how to stop barking is easiest if we begin when they’re puppies.

All those little bad habits we let them get away with because they’re so darn adorable can come back to bite us, literally, when our Shih Tzus are full grown.

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