Ah, the most annoying thing every dog owner has to go through at some point in life, having to endure your dog’s barking all the time while just sitting there helpless and not knowing what to do about it!
Well, this article is written to save you from that nightmare! So, without further ado, let’s get into it.
Why Do Dogs Bark?
First thing’s first, there is never a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Every dog barks for a specific reason depending on the circumstance at hand.
One dog might bark simply because they’re happy at the moment and just feel like making it known, another dog might bark to get your/someone’s attention or communicate something to you, while another dog might bark because they feel scared because of something/someone and retreat into a defensive zone..
Some of the most common reasons dogs bark are:
- When someone intrudes on an area your dog considers to be their own, they get defensive and aggressive.
- When they sense danger that could threaten you or themselves
- Anything or anyone that scares or startles your dog all of a sudden.
- If left alone for long periods of time without proper interaction with people or some of their dog peers, your dog will bark excessively to make you know they’re unhappy.
- Sometimes they bark because they think that’s a nice way to greet people or other animals. You can tell they’re trying to happily greet when they bark and wag their tail and jump up and down and from the high pitch of their barking.
- Trying to grab your attention.
How To Stop Dog Barking?
First of all, you must understand one very important concept. You never, EVER want your dog to entirely stop barking.
Many times your dog will be barking because they sense a potential danger they want to notify you about, and the last thing you want to do is to lose out on that privilege that comes with owning a dog.
So your problem is never with your dog barking per se, it’s with your dark barking excessively. Your dog barking is them trying to communicate something with you, and you never want that communication process to stop.
Every dog owner must have two ultimate goals in mind when it comes to their dog’s barking:
- They must be able to make their dog stop barking when they tell them to do so.
- They must be able to train their dog to only bark for the right reasons (situations they want their dog to bark in) and not bark in situations they don’t want their dog to bark in.
So, before you attempt to stop your dog barking, you must understand the exact reason why your dog is doing so. You do want to stop them barking when they do it for no good reason, but you don’t want them to stop barking when they sense danger and are trying to tell you that.
You must also realize that no method out there will get your dog to stop unwanted barking overnight. The more your dog has been exhibiting this bad habit, the more patience and time it will require from you to set things straight. So hang in there!
With the right methods and techniques and adequate time, your dog will make tremendous progress. It is vital that you maintain this new good habit through constant training and praise/rewards, or else your dog may get back to their old annoying barking habits.
Wrong Ways To Stop Dog Barking
Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy .. Where do I begin?
- Screaming: NEVER start screaming at your dog or show your dog that you’re heated and angry thinking you’re going to get them to stop barking that way. You’re not. You’ll just make it worse because they might sense that you’re joining them in barking (let’s face it, human screaming is the equivalent to dog barking) or worse off, they will sense that you’re frustrated and might try to imitate you, and that’s a whole other dangerous story because that’s when them attacking you becomes a real possibility. If you’re going to make your dog stop barking the right way, you have to learn how to keep your cool. Speak and act in a calm yet firm way.
- Being too nice: Don’t be too sweet and wishy-washy with your dog when you want them to stop barking. You must be firm and assertive (but refer to #1 and don’t yell!) so they don’t mistake your affection with your approval of their barking.
- Inconsistency: Not being consistent. I see this happen a lot of times so I had to include it here. When you’re training your dog when to bark and when not to bark, the last thing you want to do is confuse them. All your household members and everyone who interacts with your dog must follow the same methods you follow when your dog barks inappropriately. If you let your dog get away with inappropriate barking one time and punish them for it the other, you’re sending them mixed signals.
- Giving them food: Never EVER try to make your dog quiet by giving them a treat to make their mouth full and stop them from barking. This way, you’ll teach them that when they bark, they get a treat from you.
Right Ways To Stop Dog Barking
Now we get to the juicy stuff you’ve been waiting for!
1) Remove Rewards
Your dog doesn’t bark for no reason.
Most of the time, your dog barks because they associate it with some kind of reward. It’s your job to determine what it is exactly they associate with barking and stop giving it to them when they bark inappropriately.
One of the most popular rewards to deny your dog from when they are barking inappropriately is to ignore them and not give them any sort of attention for as long as they’re barking. Giving them any sort of attention while they do that would make them think that they could get your attention when they bark like that every time.
When ignoring them, you have to do it to the fullest extent for this method to work. You do not touch them, you do not make any sort of eye contact with them, and you certainly do not talk to them.
When they stop barking, you can give them their reward (attention, their favorite treat, etc ..) so they understand that they get nothing from you when they bark for no reason (and that they should stop doing that) while they get a reward from you when they stop barking for no reason.
The key to this method to succeed (and any dog training method really) is continuity and consistency. Some dogs will make it easy for you and give up quickly, while other dogs will really keep at it for a very long time.
No matter which side of the spectrum you find yourself to be on, you have to ignore them for as long as it takes them to stop barking, and then reward them for it, and you have to do it every time until they get the message loud and clear.
If you crack under the pressure at any time and yell at your dog for barking, you’ll have lost the battle. You will only be telling your dog that when they bark enough for a long time, they’ll get your attention sooner or later.
This method is really simple yet really effective. All you have to do is find out what stimulus is causing your dog to bark, and get them used to it so that it no longer makes them feel threatened and trigger the barking fest in them.
This method works amazingly well when the stimulus that causes your dark to bark is an object/person.
First of all, you have to expose your dog to the stimulus at a far away distance. When they’re exposed to the stimulus at that distance and don’t bark, you give them a reward. Make sure to keep a good distance between your dog and the stimulus though, or else your dog will start to bark immediately if the two are too close.
Get the stimulus to gradually move closer towards the dog little by little, and keep rewarding your dog (with treats for example) as long as they’re not barking.
If your dog starts barking, stop giving them rewards. As soon as they stop barking again, return to giving them rewards.
What this does is teaches your dog that the stimulus (that makes them bark) results in them getting rewarded with treats, so they won’t bark again when exposed to that stimulus.
As you and your dog progress through this training method every time, consider gradually increasing the amount of time you require your dog to stay quiet when exposed to the trigger so they get their reward.
3) Bark Only When Taught/Told To
This method is all about two steps:
- Teaching your dog to bark after a certain event
- Ordering them to stop barking whenever you want them to stop
To train your dog to bark after a certain event, you start off by commanding them to “speak”.
As soon as your dog barks a couple of times based on your request, grab a piece of their most favorite treat (here’s where you have to work to figure that out) and let them sniff it.
If they sniff the treat and continue to bark, don’t let them eat it just yet. As soon as they start sniffing and stop barking, let them eat it. This will create an association in their mind that when they bark a few times after you tell them to “speak”, they’ll get a reward.
Now, I wish that whenever we could tell them to “shut up”, our dogs would understand what we’re saying right away and do it. Don’t you? But, unfortunately, it’s not that easy.
When you want your dog to stop barking based on a command you give them, you must teach them what that term means. So, choose one term (Quiet, hush, etc .. you choose) and stick with it so your dog learns what it means.
Only after your dog has mastered barking after you tell them to “speak” can you move on to teaching them how to stop barking based on your request. What you have to do is very simple.
- Tell your dog to “speak”.
- When your dog starts barking like they should, say “quiet” (or any other term of your chocie) in a calm and firm tone.
- Wait until they stop barking and let them eat the treat and praise them for doing a good job. This will cause an association in your dog’s mind that when they stop barking when you say “quiet”, they’re in for a reward.
One mistake a lot of people make is that they reward their dog while they’re still barking. This is very counter-productive.
As the training sessions progress, you should gradually increase the time you require your dog to be silent when you say “quiet” before giving them their reward.
After enough training sessions your dog will learn the meaning of the command “quiet” and will no longer require rewards from you to respond to your commands.
As everything related to dog training, you should expose your dog to this method in different environments, places and scenarios so they get used to responding to your commands no matter where you two are at the time.
Sometimes your dog will react to a certain stimulus by barking and barking and barking like there’s no tomorrow, no matter what you say to them. In this case, you can make use of an item to distract them from whatever made them start barking.
One of the most popular items used with this methods is something that emits a high frequency sound. When your dog barks without you wanting them to and they hear the high frequency sound, they’ll form a connection between them barking for no reason/barking when you don’t want them to with the unpleasant high frequency sound.
To succeed with this method, your dog must not know that you are behind the high frequency sound (or any other distraction item you choose to use). Your dog must think that their barking (which you don’t want going on) caused the high frequency sound (which annoys them) to come on by itself.
5) Bark Collars
This method is one that you’ve probably heard of before. Why? Because it’s wildly popular.
Whenever your dog barks, bark collars automatically catch on and emit something that interrupt your dog from barking. Depending on the bark collar you get, the interrupter might be very different for you than for someone else.
Some bark collars emit a noise, while others make use of a small frequency of electric stimulation. There are many other methods bark collars use that are way too many to list in this article, so the choice is up to you. Explore your options and see which one you’re most comfortable using on your dog.
However, one important word on shock collars. By delivering a certain electric frequency to your dog, this can be painful for them. And when they feel pain, this can cause both physical and psychological pain and trauma, and may make your dog very aggressive, especially if they are able to tell where the source of the pain is coming from (where they’ll become aggressive towards you if they’re able to tell you’re behind the electric frequency).
As for collars that squirt a scent of citronella when your dog barks, your dog knows how to adapt to that faster than you think. Believe it or not, your dog can catch on to what the can is there for, manipulate it and use it up real fast and start barking at will again.
6) Physical And Mental Activity
Often, unwanted barking is the result of a lot of built up energy inside your dog that hasn’t been channeled anywhere.
So, it’s up to you to find ways to let your dog release all that built up energy inside by letting them get the necessary physical and mental activities they need on a day to day basis.
Why is this so important? Because, when your dog is tired enough from the physical and mental exercises they’re getting through the day, not only will they lead a much healthier and happier life (and you’ll be rewarded for that with better behavior), but they’ll be much less likely to bark unnecessarily, which usually happens because they’re angry, bored or simply looking for attention.
A tired dog won’t even think about barking when nothing’s wrong.
So, how do you do it? Simple.
- Give your dog a daily walk.
- Is a walk not enough? Make it more challenging. Have them walk on an incline, run along with them, play a ball game with them or take them to the dog park and let them roam free with their dog friends for a while.
- Make use of one of the many mental challenges games and interactive toys out there that get their mental juices flowing and see how your dog will be much better overall.
An hour of exercise (mental and physical) for your dog does the trick!
Conclusion On Dog Barking
And that, ladies and gentlemen, concludes it for how to stop your dog from barking!
But, the conversation doesn’t end here, let’s take it to the comments section, shall we? What’s your experience like with your dog barking?