My Dog Barks at Dogs and People Out The Window

Perhaps you know the house on your street where as soon as you walk by, you are greeted by a frantic and not-so-friendly sounding bark and bump on a glass window?

dogs barking at people and dogs through window

Oh look, there’s that dog – he always barks at us when we walk by this house.

Many owners think that letting their dog stare out the window is a way to let their dog “enjoy” the view while they are left home alone and that it’s a form of relaxation. After all, we love sitting on our porches in the summer and letting the world pass us by, right?

Unfortunately, allowing your dog to stare out windows when unsupervised is potentially a very harmful activity, and in a relatively short amount of time, can cause your dog to bark and lunge aggressively at dogs and people on the street. It also prevents them from resting – they are always hyper vigilant for very long durations, every day, and unable to truly relax and de-stress.

Typically, a well-socialized and friendly dog is given access to their new window ledge in his new home (or sometimes even access to a window in a lower-storey condo). He sees a dog being walked on the street, and gets excited because he want to go visit the dog to socialize. But, he can’t! He’s stuck behind glass. He feels disappointed and also frustrated.

Every single day, he sits at the window, and classical conditioning is occurring. The sight of people walking by causes excitement, and then frustration at the fact he is stuck behind a glass window. Soon, instead of being happy to see a dog and person on the street, he immediately feels frustrated and eventually angry. This is called barrier frustration.

A lot of times, this conditioned emotional response to people and dogs on the street generalizes to not just when inside, but also when outside on a leash walk. Now, the dog that barks and lunges at things behind the window also does this when outside on leash walks.

After months or even years of this conditioning – the frustration builds up to a point where some dogs, if allowed to rush out the front door left ajar, will run out and actually bite someone walking by. After tens of thousands of people and dogs walking by, the frustration has transformed into serious aggression. This is also called “chain rage”, where dogs on tie outs in suburban and rural property become highly aggressive due to years of barrier frustration.

To avoid this problem, never allow your dog to have unsupervised access to look out windows, or even in the yard through fences. Don’t leave your dog in the yard all day while you’re at work. Instead, restrict access when they’re unsupervised through window coverings, privacy film, crating/confinement, or simply preventing access to the room these windows are in. When you’re with your dog by the window or yard, and they notice people and dogs walking by your property, mark and reinforce them with food, play, and praise, for calmly noticing passerbys, so you help train behavior and condition positive associations with passerbys.

18 Replies to “My Dog Barks at Dogs and People Out The Window”

  1. Never thought of this. We thought we were being nice to our Scottie but over the year we have been in this house with a large window to the sidewalk, the barking has gotten worse.

  2. ? If u can answer..when a dangerous dog is in his house but unattended and hanging out window half way..is this against the dangerous dog law

  3. My dog is a puppy mill breeder rescued from a kill shelter. She came to us with infections, worms, no socilaization and had no idea what commands were. She is only 3 years old.
    The vet said she could have had up to 30 puppes. WE have a ranch and the best 2 windows are behind her couch and by the backyard patio door. She NEVER barks when anyone goes by. If she gets bored she lays down and takes a nap. She has fear and anxiety . We will take her to a trainer, one on one. We have only had her 2 months. We have made great progress with her. I can’t see shutting the blinds when we leave. I would think that would make her nervous. We are retired we are home almost every day all day. She sees no other dogs, people, just us and the house and windows. She is content, and loved, and taken care of.

  4. My poodle 7 years old, been always barking when noone at him, or he hear someone walking pass the door. I try using the electrical shock for a year , it work sometimes, but sometimes not.. please advise?

  5. My poodle 7 years old, been always barking when noone at him, or he hear someone walking pass the door. I try using the electrical shock for a year , it work sometimes, but sometimes not..
    should he go for training or any options please advise?

  6. My dog loves to stare out my window. And doesn’t bark much at passerby’s. It doesn’t make him frustrated or angry when we walk and he seems others walking their dogs. He just genuinely loves to stare out the window. He lays there and quietly looks. He will bark occasionally but he’s a dog. He’s very sociable and has been socialized at the dog park since we got him. So generally I don’t think letting your dog look out the window is damaging for all dogs.

  7. Not to be mean, but I cant see crating the dog Mon-Fri for 8hrs. I closed the blinds, but he jumps on them as soon as he hears something outside

  8. I didnt want to have to go to a crate, but I’m at a loss bc my dog won’t stay out of the window even when we are home. He constantly goes for the window whenever he hear anything and last night broke a pane because the porch light burnt out. He chases light reflections up walls and has ruined every window sill in the house. And don’t even get me started on Christmas lights that are now up. Punishments don’t work, nor do rewards. He does whatever the hell he pleases so I’m feeling that a crate is the only thing left, though I feel bad doing it. He’s some sort of German Shepard mutt. Has any else ever dealt with such a resistant and disobedient dog?

    1. This is exactly what happened to my dog. Started out as a calm golden retriever puppy with a friendly disposition. We moved to Jersey City in the first floor apartment directly off the sidewalk and we though he’d love watching people go by. Now – he barks incessantly at literally everyone going by. This translated to walks where he used to love people and dogs, now he lashes out and tried to lunge at them while barking like a maniac.

      I crate my dog every day and just yesterday, tried to leave him out as he’s now one, but lo and behold, I had to leave work to put him back in his crate b/c he was barking incessantly and we have neighbors surrounding us.

      @Sydney – the crate is a life saver. He just “knows” it’s calm time in there. I totally feel bad leaving him locked up during work so i bit the bullet and I send him out w a dog walker most days and day care on days where I’ll be out longer.

      Next up – a trainer to try to reverse this behavior…

    1. Had a dog behaviour pro in last week. Told us that one if the things to do to get our dog to be less responsive when meeting other dogs was to get a privacy film for picture window and restrict access until retraining complete. We hated to do this but finally found a 5 ft piece of metal shelving and placed it on bay window ledge. So far so good.

  9. Never had a pet of any kind but was given a Tibetan Spaniel a few years ago. What a mess, it took a long time to get him trained but he now trained to go outside back up when servicing his food, out for a walk and he has never been much of a barker. Unless someone walks by the house or there is a dog nearby. Then all bets are off! He seems territorial. This the one habit we can’t seem to readjust. What can we do to get him out of this territorial mode?

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