Are you trying to stop your dog from barking excessively? Does your dog bark while out on a walk or at neighbors? In this article, we have put together specific techniques to get your dog to stop barking under various circumstances.
As a dog owner, it is important to understand that all dogs bark. Expecting a dog not to bark is at all is unreasonable, but there are those that bark excessively. While some bark for good reasons such as intruders, others tend to bark for little or no reason at all.
So how do you stop your dog from barking? First, you will need to find out why your dog is barking and remove the motivation. Second, you will need to teach your dog “speak” and “quiet” commands.
If this is a problem you are experiencing in your home, the first step to curbing it is figuring out why he is barking, to be able to solve this issue.
Step 1: Find out why your dog is barking
Barking is one of the many ways that dogs communicate. There are many reasons why a dog can start barking, depending on the situation. Here are some of the most common reasons why dogs bark;
Dogs are territorial animals. So if they see another dog or person enter an area they consider their territory, this may trigger excessive barking. The dog will often look alert and more aggressive when barking to protect their territory.
Some dogs bark at noises or objects that startle or catch their attention. This type of barking can start anywhere, regardless of whether they are in their territory or not.
Dogs are naturally pack animals. Hence, if left alone over long periods, they can become bored or lonely and start barking out of sadness.
Dogs generally bark when greeting loved ones or other animals. This is usually a happy or excited bark that is accompanied by jumping and enthusiastic tail wags.
Sometimes dogs bark when they want you to get or do something for them. For instance, some dogs will bark when they want you to play with them, when they want to go outside or when they want you to give them a treat.
Dogs that suffer from separation anxiety tend to bark excessively, especially when left alone. They also exhibit other symptoms like destructiveness, depression, pacing, and inappropriate elimination.
It can be tricky to find out, exactly what is bothering your dog. If you can identify the trigger or motivation, remove the motivation. For example, if your dog barks at people passing by your living room window, you can manage this behavior by closing the curtains.
Step 2: Training your dog to stop barking excessively
To be a good dog parent, you need to teach your dog when to bark and when to be quiet. Start working on this problem as soon as you spot it since the longer you wait, the harder it will be to curb this behavior. For starters, it’s a great idea to teach your dog the speak and quiet commands. These commands will help you teach your dog to be quiet on command.
The “speak” command
The first step to stopping your dog from barking unnecessarily is to teach him to bark on command.
- In a firm voice, give him the command“speak” and wait for him to bark two or three times.
- Show him a tasty treat and shower him with affection and praise.
- If he stops barking to sniff, praise him and give it to him.
- Repeat this until he is able to start barking as soon as you say speak.
- Once your dog can reliably bark on command, you need to teach him the quiet command.
The “quiet” command
Train your dog the quiet command in a calm environment with no distraction.
- Give him the speak command
- Once your dog starts barking, utter the “quiet” command in a calm but firm voice.
- Wait for him to stop, even if it is just to take a breath, to praise and reward him with a treat.
Eventually, your dog will figure out that once he stops barking on the quiet command, he gets a treat. Just make sure never to reward him while he is barking as you will be reinforcing this behavior.
Here is a short video demonstrating these techniques:
How to stop your dog from barking while out on a walk
When walking your dog to the park or around your block, the chances that he will see something that will make him excited or even scared such as cars, people or even other dogs is high. This can lead to excessive barking in response. Being able to instruct your dog to stay calm is crucial to curbing this issue.
One great way to stop your dog from barking excessively while taking a walk is to use the heel exercise. When a dog is at heels, he walks calmly alongside you. This exercise also helps your dog avoid distraction. Apply the reward method to reinforce learning; Get some really tasty treats such as hot dog, chicken or steak to get him to heel. If your dog does not respond to this command, calmly pull him away from whatever is causing a distraction and provide a treat or praise when they behave calmly.
Watch this video on how you can teach your dog the “heel” command:
How to stop your dog from barking at your neighbors
If your dog barks at neighbors passing by you can curb this behavior by removing motivation, using command training or social training or a mix of both.
Remove the motivation:
If your dog barks are neighbors passing by your living room window or yard, you can manage this behavior by closing the curtains or putting him in another room. Letting him continue to bark or opening the doors or windows is rewarding this behavior.
Ignore: Do not give your dog attention when he is barking at the neighbors. Instead, wait until he completely stops barking and then provide him with a tasty treat.
Work on the “come ” command:
To teach your dog the come command;
- Put a leash and collar on your dog and go down to get to his level.
- Give the “come” command while lightly pulling on his leash.
- When he gets near you, reward him with a treat or affection.
- Try the command 3 to 5 times until he responds to come without having to pull on his leash.
- After that, remove the leash and practice the command in an enclosed area.
You can use this command to call your dog to come to you when he starts barking at neighbors. For instance, when he starts barking at the door or window, walk across the room and ask him to come. If he walks over to you without barking, give him a treat and praise.
Here’s a demonstration of the “come” command training:
How to stop your dog from barking at other dogs
Although dog aggression towards other dogs is considered normal, some dogs tend to become excessively aggressive. Unfortunately, when a dog starts barking at other dogs, the first thing most dog owners do is to yell, pull and tug at their leash with the hopes of keeping them under control. However, this tactic does very little to calm your dog. In fact, in most cases, it only reinforces the behavior. To stop your dog from barking at other dogs;
Stay calm and composed
The next time your dog starts barking at other dogs, stay calm and composed. This is because if you are feeling tense, anxious or threatened, your dog will feed off this energy and use it to reinforce this behavior.
Distract your dog
An important step to curbing this issue is distracting your dog at the right time. Once you see that your dog has noticed the other dog, stay alert and observe his behavior. If your dog starts becoming tense and stiff, distract him before it escalates to barking, tugging, and other aggressive behavior. You can distract him by calling his name to get his full attention, and then giving him a treat once he is fully facing you and not paying attention to the other dog.
Use this chance to turn him around to avoid the other dog entirely. Most importantly, do not let your dog get too close to the other dog as it only builds more aggression. Also, if done wrong, your dog may easily associate the treat with this unwanted behavior, making the situation worse. Ideally, you want your dog to associate receiving the treat with calmness. So do your best to keep the other dog out of your dog’s line of sight.
You will need to apply this tactic over a long period of time until your dog is able to stop barking at other dogs without expecting a treat in return.
Socialize your dog
Another great way to stop your dog from barking at other dogs is socializing him with other dogs more often. You can do this by letting him interact with other friendly dogs or in classes with other dogs. This will get him used to the presence of other dogs in a calm and controlled manner.
How to stop your dog from barking when left alone
Most times, a dog that barks when left alone is usually due to boredom. In this case, you need to provide him with more activities or companionship to keep him from being bored and lonely. To calm your dog down, provide them with chew toys and training exercises that can eliminate the boredom. If that does not work, consider bringing him to daycare services that provide fun play and training programs. This way, instead of leaving your dog at home while you are at work, you can have a little bit of fun and socialize with friends, just like people need to from time to time.
Finally, understand that a tired dog is a quiet dog. Therefore, if your dog barks excessively whenever left alone, this could be a sign of built up energy. To curb this, tire him out before you go out. Take a long walk, or run, play ball or take a trip to the dog park before leaving.
Are Bark Collars Cruel? Should you use bark collars?
There are many products in the market designed to help curb excessive barking, with bark collars being the most popular. Although these collars deliver quick and audible correction to your dog, they are not an effective remedy on all dogs. For instance, citronella spraying collars work, until your dog learns to run it out and then bark whenever they want. Shock collars, on the other hand, are rather cruel since they convey a painful jerk to your furry friend and can cause them harm, or make your dog aggressive, more so, if they associate someone with the pain.
There are other off-collar devices that work well if your dog barks in a set area. These collars switch on when they pick up barking by shooting water at your dog or emitting an irritating sound. Although these can prevent your dog from barking in a given area, they work best when you are home to reward your pet when he stops barking. This helps reinforce what you want him to do.
How to speed up training
As with many things in life, there are various ways you can make training a little easier for yourself;
- Become the pack leader: The more your dog respects you the more he will listen to you.
- Set him up for success: Do not push the training too fast. Be attentive to your dog so that he is not struggling with the speed at which you are progressing. This only causes him more stress, increasing his chances of failure. Instead, work at your dog’s speed to improve his chances of learning.
- Do not yell at your dog: Yelling at your dog stimulates your dog’s barking since he thinks you are joining in.
- Be consistent: Be consistent in your training methods to avoid confusing your dog. For instance, do not let your dog get away with barking in some instances but not others.
- Keep it short and sweet: Keep your training sessions short, upbeat and positive.
Once you notice your dog barks excessively, do not allow the problem to go on and on. The longer your dog barks, the more ingrained this behavior becomes. So deal with this barking problems as soon as you identify it. Although all the above tips can help stop your dog from barking, do not expect instant results.
Getting your furry friend to bark less will take a lot of work, practice, consistency and time. It will not happen in a day or two, but with patience and proper training techniques, you will be able to see progress. If after trying the above methods you are still not able to get your dog to stop barking, we highly recommend seeking the services of a professional. An expert will work with you and your dog to identify why it barks and come up with an action plan to reduce it.