7 Ways to Get a Dog to Stop Barking
by Amy Smith - 5/6/19
If you have a dog that barks constantly, you know how irritating it can be. Shouting, yelling and impatience won’t effectively teach a dog to stop barking. In fact, if you shout at him to stop, he may think you’re joining in a loud barking conversation.
Barking is a primary means of communication for your dog, so don’t expect him to be silent all the time. Instead try these seven tips to keep your dog from barking excessively.
1. Keep His Mind Active
A common reason for barking is sheer boredom. By nature, dogs are pack animals and crave social interaction. If your dog is home alone for long stretches of the day, he may get stir crazy without enough mental stimulation and companionship. Remember to give him plenty of attention when you are home. When you’re gone, provide him with stimulating toys, like dog puzzles, chew toys and Kong toys stuffed with treats to keep him entertained and occupied.
2. Tire Him Out Physically
A tired dog is less likely to bark for attention or from boredom. Starting your day together with a vigorous, hour-long walk may be the best way to curb barking throughout the day. If the weather is bad, do some running up and down stairs together or make an obstacle course in the house. If you’re tired of the same old walk, try involving your dog in agility training or mixing in a game of fetch outdoors.
3. Ignore Barking
If your dog is barking, don’t reward him in any way, including giving him food or attention. Yelling back can seem like conversation to your dog and encourage him to continue barking. Instead, ignore his behavior until he settles down. Then, reward his quiet behavior with treats and attention.
4. Bring Him Inside
If your dog is very stimulated by people, cars and other animals outdoors, he may bark loudly. Bring him inside and close the window shades if necessary, to remove the exciting stimulus. A constantly barking outdoor dog can be a real nuisance to neighbors, so you will probably want to train him to sleep inside at night.
5. Teach Him to Respond to “Quiet”
Some barking is okay and even useful, if your dog is alerting you to danger or his own discomfort. However, you want to teach him to stop when you know the barking is unnecessary, disruptive or aggressive.
Teach your dog a command like “quiet” or “hush.” When he is barking, state the command firmly, using a hand signal as well, such as placing a finger on your lips. When he pauses, repeat the command and give a delicious treat to reinforce that “quiet” brings a reward.
6. Practice Desensitizing to Barking Triggers
If your dog has a trigger that always elicits barking, train him to use a different behavior in that situation. For example, if he barks at other people on your walks, have a friend or other family member practice walking toward you when you are outside. If your dog shows calm behavior and follows your commands to “stay” and be “quiet,” reward him quickly with treats. If he barks, ignore, back up and try again. Practice until your dog consistently shows the behavior you want from him.
7. Call A Professional
If your best efforts are failing to curb your dog’s barking to acceptable levels, consider asking the advice of a professional trainer or your vet. Some medical problems can contribute to anxiety and aggression, leading to excessive barking. Further, a dog trainer with years of experience may be able to point out ways in which anti-barking strategies could be used more consistently and effectively. Don’t settle for a barking dog, angry neighbors and constant irritation!
Amy Smith is a writer, specializing in family and parenting topics. She teaches English, Latin, and music at a private school and lives with her husband and five children on a small homestead in rural Pennsylvania.