All dogs bark. It’s a fact of life. You shouldn’t expect your dog to never bark and be quiet all the time. If your dog is continually barking to get attention or in situations when it should be calmed down, however, there is certainly an issue.
Luckily, with some good training and persistence on your part, you can break your dog of its bad barking habits before they become too ingrained. Keep reading to learn our top ways of how to stop a dog from barking.
Main Reasons Why Dogs Bark
Before you can break a dog of their bad barking habits, it’s important to first understand why your dog may be barking too much in the first place. Below, we’ve provided some of the most common reasons dogs bark. Once you’ve identified the source of the problem, you can more accurately center training around treating the problem at the source.
Dogs and animals, in general, are territorial by nature. So, when a strange person or animal invades that territory, dogs naturally get territorial and maybe even stressed. The closer to a territory someone comes, the louder and more intense the barking will become.
Dogs also frequently bark to get their owner’s attention or because they want something. If you give in to your dog’s barking by giving them attention, food, or whatever else they may be asking for, you are only encouraging bad behavior and the problem will grow worse.
Dogs also tend to bark when they’re scared or alarmed. Sudden and unfamiliar sounds can quickly trigger a dog’s barking.
Dogs naturally bark when they’re excited. Think of it as children yelling on a playground. Sometimes they can get carried away, though, barking at the mere sight of a toy or leash. If a dog is playing and then gets a toy stuck under something so that they can’t get to it, this will cause frustration and likely some barking to go along with it.
Some dogs bark because they’re just plain bored. Dogs need socialization and interaction. If your dog is left alone inside or outside for long periods of time, it will likely become lonely or sad and display this through barking.
Separation distress, and its more extreme form, separation anxiety, can develop in dogs just as in children. When dogs receive stress whenever their owners leave, they may begin to bark uncontrollably and engage in other bad behaviors.
How to Stop a Dog from Barking in Inappropriate Situations
Once you’ve identified why your dog is barking excessively, it’s time to determine how to stop a dog from barking in a way that is most effective for the individual dog. Many of the solutions listed below will work for multiple causes, and vice versa: some causes can be treated in several different ways.
Determining what your dog best responds to and what you’re best at implementing will greatly determine your success in changing your dog’s barking habits.
1. Sight Blockers
If your dog barks mainly due to intrusions on territory or feelings of fear and alarm, a great way to decrease this type of barking is to eliminate the sources of these feelings in the first place.
Dogs that bark to protect their territory or who feel uneasy largely do so because they see potential intruders through the window. So, try simply taking away this visual stimulus. Close the blinds or cover windows with a curtain. This way you’ll take away what they feel the need to bark at in the first place.
2. Sound Blockers/Quiet Zones
Similar to the idea of blocking visual stimuli, try blocking out auditory stimuli if sounds seem to set your dog off. One way of doing this is to continually play a white noise sound. Any small sounds outside will get drowned out and won’t provoke a reaction.
You may also want to establish a quiet zone for your dog when you’re not home if you know they tend to get stressed by outside noises when you’re gone. Establishing a safe, quiet place for your dog to be that’s away from the front door and sources of noise is a great way to make your dog feel protected and reduce barking.
3. Ignore Barking
If your dog barks out of attention-seeking or to make demands, it is absolutely imperative that you do not indulge this behavior. If you give into their demands, you are only encouraging bad behavior.
Instead, ignore their barking. This may be difficult to do sometimes—especially if your dog can really go at it, barking for an hour or more at any given time. You have to stay strong, though. Giving in will only ensure that the next time your dog will bark for longer.
Once you’ve waited it out and the barking has finally ended, be sure to reward your dog to show them that good behavior is what gets rewarded, not obnoxious barking.
4. Desensitize Stimuli
Desensitizing your dog to certain bark-inducing stimuli is another great option of how to stop a dog from barking. This option work well for territorial and fearful dogs.
An example of this is to slowly introduce the presence of a typically stress-inducing stimuli, such as a stranger or another dog, and associate their presence with positive experiences. Work on introducing the stimulus from a distance, feeding your dog treats and giving them affectionate reassurance, then remove the stimulus. Repeat the process, gradually getting closer.
5. Teach Barking On-Command
It may seem counter-intuitive but training your dog to bark on-command is actually a great way to reduce barking as a whole. By your dog learning to only bark in certain situations, they will be less inclined to bark in situations that haven’t received approval from their owner.
6. Teach Quiet Commands
The reverse of teaching your dog to bark on-command is, of course, teaching them to be quiet. Begin by associating a command word with your desired outcome, such as “quiet” or “hush.” Then start the training process.
As your dog is barking, wait for them to quiet down. When they do, say the command word and give them a treat. Your dog may only be quiet for a few seconds, but they will quickly learn that their silence is associated with the word and is rewarded. As training continues, extend the time necessary for your dog to be quiet before rewarding with a treat.
7. Exercise Your Dog
Bored dogs with pent-up energy are highly likely to bark. You can remedy this by making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise it needs. This will allow them an outlet for their energy as well as some quality time to spend with you. Exercise can also reduce overall levels of stress and anxiety in animals just as much as with people.
Properly exercising your dog will also tire them out and make them better behaved at home.
8. Provide Interactive Toys
Another way to combat boredom and neediness in dogs is to provide them with interactive toys. These types of toys are often chewy and have a treat inside that they have to work to get to. Using this type of toy is ideal for when you need to quiet your dog down quickly, such as when you’re on a phone call.
9. Reward Good Behavior
More so than punishing bad behavior, rewarding good behavior is incredibly important for establishing proper training. Take note of when your dog is being quiet or following the training that you have set in place, and reward it.
10. Pheromone Collars
Using pheromone collars is another way to reduce barking in your pet. These collars release calming pheromones typically exuded by female dogs. These pheromones will help calm your dog down, making them less inclined to bark.
What NOT to Do
Of course, in addition to the methods of how to stop a dog from barking, there are also things you shouldn’t do when engaging with your dog.
The first is to restrain yourself from yelling at your dog. A dog who is ceaselessly barking can sometimes be frustrating, but if you start yelling your dog will just think you’re joining in.
When training your dog, make sure to stay positive. You want your dog to enjoy the training session—a happy dog will be more willing to learn. Also, be sure to remain consistent in your training and with your commands so you don’t confuse your dog.
A Calmer Household All-Around
Once you’ve learned how to stop a dog from barking incessantly, your household will be calmer all-around. While it’s impossible to keep your dog from barking ever (and you shouldn’t want them to! Good guard dogs will bark at strangers who may pose a threat), you can definitely curtail the situations that cause them to bark.
A properly trained dog will be happier knowing it has strong leadership to follow and knows how to please its owner.