How to Get a Dog to Stop Barking: Top 5 tips

One of the problems many dog owners have is to figure out how to get a dog to stop barking. You shouldn’t expect your dog not to ever bark. One reason is that it’s his job to bark at strangers or alert you that there are people at your door.

But sometimes, your dog may bark too much, and it turns out to be a problem or an annoyance. So, you need to look for a permanent solution to address your pup’s behavior issue. 

Why does my dog bark so much?

Your dog barks beyond what would be considered normal for a couple of reasons. Trying to figure out how to stop a dog from barking is part of the answer. Then diverting his barking to a more practical reason is the other part.

Territorial dog 

Your dog considers your home, your yard, and you his territory. So, when those boundaries are breached, it can trigger excessive barking in your pet. You will notice that his barking will become louder when he gets closer to what he considers a threat. Your dog will even become more aggressive and alert when he’s barking his territorial bark.

Dog fear

Some dogs will bark at any little noise or piece of blowing paper that catches their attention. Not only will your dog bark at a noise, but even when he becomes startled. When your dog barks like this, it can be anywhere, not just where he calls home.

A bored dog 

If you don’t know it, dogs are pack animals. So, if your dog is left alone for an extended period of time, he can become bored. Your dog can become sad and lonely as well, and he could bark because he’s unhappy. It’s how he would express his unhappiness of being left on his own.

Dog barking for attention

Your dog could also bark when he wants something. It could be because he wants a treat, needs to go outside or wants to play.

When left alone

Some dogs bark when they’re left alone because they have separation anxiety. Plus, you might notice other signs your dog exhibits too. It could be destructive behavior, such as chewing up your favorite pair of shoes. Or he could become depressed or go to the bathroom in the house. But, if your dog is a compulsive barker, then he just likes to hear the sound of his own bark. A compulsive barker will also run along a fence while barking or run in circles.

ways to help your dog stop barking

There are ways to stop your dog from barking, but it does take work. It also takes time, consistency, and a ton of patience.

Remove the motivation to keep your dog from barking. 

When you remove the motivation that is causing your dog to bark, your dog will stop barking. The key is to find out what that motivation is by watching what triggers your dog. Plus, for your dog, barking gives him a rush of adrenaline, which makes it pleasant to bark.

You need to Ignore the barking when your dog starts.

 You can ignore your dog’s barking until he stops. It means, while he’s barking, you give him no attention whatsoever. If you pay attention to him while he’s barking, he thinks you’re giving him attention, which defeats the whole purpose.

Don’t look at your fur baby, don’t touch him, don’t talk to him, and don’t acknowledge his existence. When he finally stops, then give him a treat and tell him he’s a good boy. The best way this method works is that you need to wait for your dog to stop barking before you act, no matter how long it takes. Even if he barks for 45 minutes and you can’t stand it and finally break and tell him to be quiet, he’ll just bark for an hour next time. Your pup will learn that if he barks long and loud enough, you’ll give him the attention he wants.

How can I desensitize my dog to the stimulus

When you want to desensitize your dog to what is overstimulating him, start by going slowly. Figure out what is the source of what is over stimulating your pet. Arrange them in the order from what would get the least reaction to the most response.

Begin with the sources that are least likely to get a reaction from your dog. Figure out ways to make each source less intense for your pup on exposure. Pair each source of what makes him bark with a positive consequence, such as when a dog walks by, he doesn’t bark, then give him a treat. You can also train this while the dog is in his crate. Don’t move to the next one until your dog is anticipating the treat for being quiet. Take it slow and relaxed in the progress with your dog.

Teach your dog the “quiet” command

 When you are trying to stop your dog from barking, all yelling does is make your pup think you’re joining in. So, you always want to be sure to speak firmly and calmly, don’t yell. What you want to do is to have your dog understand the word “quiet.” 

There are one of two ways that you can do this. One is to say “Quiet” in a firm, calm voice. You need to wait until your dog stops barking even if it’s a pause, then praise him and give him his favorite treat. Just be sure to never give him the treat while he’s barking. Soon your fur baby will figure out that when he stops barking and hears the word “quiet,” he’ll be rewarded with a dog treat.

dog getting a treat

The other way is to teach your dog to “speak,” and when he’s barking on command, you can signal him to stop barking. Have him stop barking, use the word “quiet,” and put your fingers to your lips. If you practice with your dog while he’s calm and chilled out, he’ll soon learn to stop barking when you tell him.

Be sure your dog is getting enough physical and mental exercise every day

dog that is running

When your dog doesn’t get enough exercise and mental stimulation every day, he may bark excessively. If you take your pet outside for a half-hour to an hour every morning, it gets rid of excess energy. Plus, if your dog is really energetic, an afternoon or evening walk could be beneficial too. To stimulate your dog mentally, you can give him a treat-dispensing toy to keep him occupied. That way, your pup will be more interested in getting the treat out of the toy than other distractions, which may make him bark.

Hire a dog professional

Hire a professional if you’re having difficulty training your pup. You can also enlist the help of a professional dog trainer. A good trainer can assist you in finding the best dog techniques and find barking deterrents, which would work with your pet. They could suggest a dog whistle or an anti-bark collar. A high-quality professional trainer will work with your dog to sort out the issue and teach you the right way to give commands. It can be money well invested in getting the helped needed for excellent dog training and dog care.

How do I get my dog to quit barking at people?

If your dog is barking at people, whether when the people are guests or when he sees people when you’re walking, what should you do? If your pup isn’t excited to see the people, he could be barking out of territorial need or a fear of strangers. There are a few suggestions that you can do to help prevent this behavior.

To prevent interaction with your pup and guests, you can place him in another room, his kennel, put a leash on him, or put up a barrier. This is something to do if the guest is unexpected or unknown.

The next step is started to teach your dog what you want him to do instead of basking his head off. If you have a place that you prefer him to lie, maybe on a mat or a rug, tell him to go to his mat. So, you need to teach him that when you tell him to go to his mat, he’ll get a treat. Then your pet will equate the command “go to mat” with getting a treat, a person appears, and he gets more treats for staying calm. An excellent method is to use the doorbell as a signal for your pup to go to his mat, and you won’t even have to give a command.

If you don’t have a lot of visitors to your home, ask relatives to stop by or friends to pop in. It will make it seem like a normal part of life for your pup.

If your dog barks, growls or lunges at strangers, then another method is used. Some dogs that are on a leash are frustrated or have “stranger danger” thinking.  Or your dog is terrified of strangers. If your dog is frightened, he’ll go into fight or flight mode, and since he’s restricted by the leash and can’t flight, he’ll want to fight.  Your pet thinks if he growls, lunges, and barks, the person will leave. 

A dog that reacts to a person while on a leash is called “leash retractive.” Several techniques can be used to desensitize your furry friend to strangers while out walking. The key is to keep your pet under the threshold of his fight-or-flight response. So, you need to keep far away from the person so your dog can see the person, but not close enough for him to react.

The technique of engaging is when you give your dog a high value treat for even looking at the person without a reaction. Eventually, he’ll look at you when he sees a person for his reward instead of reacting to the person.

You can also reward your pup for just looking at the person which is called Look at That or LAT. Your pet looks at a person without a reaction, and he gets a treat. It’s a win-win situation for both of you.

The third type of training is called Behavior Adjustment Training, and you use calm behavior to get a reward. When your dog approaches a person and uses relaxed body language, you move away from the person and give him a reward for being calm.

All these training tricks are used to help your pup get used to what he’s afraid of without becoming overwhelmed. Because it will empower your pet, it will work to change his emotional reaction. Because, having to position and time these executions is so crucial to the success, hiring a professional to give pointers would be helpful.

Bark Collars, should you use one?

There are pros and cons to using bark collars. There are many benefits to using a bark collar, which can help to train your pup to stop barking quickly. The collar can keep him under control, so your pet doesn’t bark all through the day. 

How the collar works is, it sends a short, quick shock to your dog. He will feel some slight discomfort, but it isn’t painful, and it isn’t considered animal abuse. Your pet will soon realize that the barking is causing the collar to shock. The con about these collars is that if your dog feels he’s in danger, he may continue to bark regardless of the shock. A bark collar can help you train you to stop your pet from barking so research all the available options.

Summary

A barking dog can be a constant annoyance, especially if it’s your dog that’s doing the barking. I have used a few of these methods over the years and found them to be quite effective. I hope one or more will work for you and your barking dog. If you want to know more about different training essentials for your dog head over to our training page.

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Peter Schoeman