I have people write to me all the time about how much their dogs bark.
They bark at postal workers. They bark at birds. They bark at parked cars. They bark at corners of the room with nothing in them. Excessive barking is a real problem for many pet parents.
And I get it. When I was a kid we had a dog that barked from the time we left the house until the time we came home. We didn’t believe our neighbor until we tape recorded her (I’m dating myself with THAT technology) and she ran through a full 120 minutes worth of tape with incessant barking the entire time.
It was crazy, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact I wish I had known these techniques for training dogs not to bark back then.
(Speaking of training dogs, if you are interested in a career or side hustle with dogs check out these 12 part time jobs working with dogs)
If you have a dog that barks a lot and it’s causing you problems – I have help! Here’s how to train your dog not to bark.Why Do Dogs Bark Excessively?
There are many reasons that dogs bark. Most dogs that bark excessively do so out of fear or anxiety or because they want attention. Just like anxiety can cause people to have real physical symptoms that change behavior, dogs experience the same thing.
Dogs often bark to:
- Greet you
- For attention
- To alert you
- In warning
- Because other dogs are barking
- Because they are bored
- Because they feel excited
- Because they feel playful
- They are lonely and have separation anxiety
How to Deal with Excessive Barking
Incessant barking can be a headache-causing nuisance. But worse it can damage the relationship that you have with your dog.
Of course, there are times when you want your dog to bark. If someone is coming into your home uninvited, for example, you definitely want them to alert you.
But if we’re being honest we would really rather if our dogs didn’t bark so much. We all wish we could control their barking behavior more easily. I’m here to help you learn exactly how to train your dog to stop barking.
A few notes before we begin.
Regardless of why your dog barks, there are some very critical pieces to correcting this behavior and training them properly.
First, Do NOT Yell At Your Dog to Stop Incessant Barking
When you yell, your dog thinks you’re just barking with them. Instead of understanding, your dog just thinks the two of you are having a conversation.
They will bark more… and probably louder.
If you are trying to figure out how to get your dog to stop barking at you, yelling at them will have the opposite effect that you intended and can even cause fearful behaviors.
Use Positive Techniques for Training Your Dog Not to Bark
It’s important to be upbeat and not negative while you’re dog training to stop excessive barking. Every session needs to end on a high note and of course, treats can go a long way in this.
Possibly the most important step is Consistency.
You must be consistent. In order to successfully train your dog not to bark, every member of the family has to use the same rules and techniques with your dog every single time.
Be Consistent to Effectively Stop Excessive Dog Barking
For them, every time must be the same, or they have no idea what you mean. If you are inconsistent then you will have a very hard time to get your dog to stop barking.
Think of it this way…
If you’re trying to learn a new language, and I say “yes” is the word for “affirmative.”
Then you need “yes” to mean the same thing every time it’s used. You need it to be “affirmative” every time.
If sometimes “yes” actually means “maybe,” then suddenly you don’t know if you understand the language.
It’s the same for your dog.
So, if you’re trying to train your dog to stop barking when you say “hush,” then every time you say “hush” your dog needs to stop.
It can’t be said in a playful tone, and once said you must follow through, don’t get lazy here.
To Train Your Dog Not to Bark You Need to Know Their Motivation
Even if it looks like it, your pup’s behavior is rarely random. They are receiving a reward somehow when they bark.
This is where it’s helpful to know why they are barking. For more help on that see our post on why dogs bark.
An example is if your dog barks at animals passing by the window. Your dog receives your attention as a reward when he barks at the outside animals.
You can remove the motivation causing their barking by closing the blinds or curtains to stop excessive barking at things outside the window. Don’t worry – you won’t have to keep the blinds closed forever. You just have to remove the motivation long enough to train your dog not to bark.
Let’s start with an easy one.
Does your dog go crazy with barking when you come home?
They are so excited to see you, so you make a big fuss because it’s wonderful to be greeted with so much excitement.
Your attention is a reward for your pups excessive barking.
But if you don’t WANT your dog to bark when you come in, you can’t pay attention to them if your dog barks when the door opens.
One Way To Teach Your Dog Not To Bark Is To Ignore Them Until they Stop
As hard as it can be it is important that you don’t pay attention to them as long as they bark. Don’t talk, don’t touch, don’t even look at your dog — and don’t interact with them at all.
Once your dog quiets down, you can then reward them with some love and attention… and you can sigh with relief.
It is crucial to not acknowledge them while they are barking, not even a sideways glance. It’s hard, but if you want to learn how to make your dog quit barking – this is a really important step.
If they bark for 15 minutes, you ignore them for 15 minutes. If they bark for an hour, you must ignore them for that entire hour. If you give in, it will undo all the training you’ve done so far.
Otherwise, they will learn that if they bark long enough, you’ll finally pay attention to them thereby rewarding them for their behavior.
Instead, by not interacting with them until they are quiet, you reward their quiet behavior. You may only get a few seconds of quiet in the beginning. Then you have to go back to ignoring them until they become quiet.
This technique for how to stop excessive barking really works. But it’s important to note that it takes a GREAT deal of patience and discipline to get there. Remember – YOU are in charge, not your pup.
Another Way to make A Dog Stop Barking is to Desensitize Them to What Makes Them Bark
This means that you figure out what they are barking at and get them so used to it that they don’t think it’s worth barking about anymore.
For example, if they bark every time they see another dog, introduce them to other dogs more frequently.
They’ll become so used to seeing other dogs that they won’t find it worth barking about anymore.
A great way to desensitize your dog to other dogs is to work with a friend who has a dog. In a neutral area, have them keep their dog just out of sight of your dog.
Then your friend can bring their dog into view a little bit.
Immediately shower your dog with attention and yummy treats. You’ll keep their focus on you instead of the other dog. This positive reinforcement works much better than yelling or smacking your excessive barking puppy or dog.
After a moment or two, your friend can take their dog back out of sight.
Repeat the process until you can stop working to keep your dog’s attention without them barking at the other dog.
Complete desensitization can take weeks since it is a natural thing for your dog to bark at other dogs on their territory. Over time, they’ll stop being so worried about other dogs that they will ignore their presence.
Be creative in using this technique of desensitization in order to train your dog to stop barking. It can really work wonders anytime you know their barking trigger.
Training a Dog Not to Bark Can Also Be Done By Creating an Alternative Routine
It doesn’t really matter what this other activity is, so long as it prevents your dog from barking. The idea is to interrupt their intention to bark.
For example, if your dog barks every time they see a cat outside, you can tell them to lay down in their bed.
You can also teach them a routine for when someone comes to the door.
We have our dogs stay just outside the foyer and sit to wait for the guests.
Don’t start the training when the doorbell rings, instead begin by teaching them to “go to your spot.” To teach them their spot, choose a place that is comfortable. Maybe a bed or mat, or maybe you just want them to stay at the door to the room.
Just like teaching them to sit, you’ll treat them every time they successful go to their spot.
By Reinforcing the Behavior You Want and Ignoring the Behavior You Don’t Want You Can Get Almost Any Dog To Stop Barking Excessively
Once you’re able to get them to their spot every time you tell them, you can start allowing them to come to the front door to greet guests. Have a friend knock on your door.
When they knock, acknowledge your dog, and then tell them to go to their spot. Once they go to their spot, you can begin to open the door.
If your dog moves from their spot while you’re opening the door, close the door immediately. Repeat this process until they stay in their spot while the door opens.
Eventually, they will react to the doorbell or someone knocking at the door by going to their spot.
Like the other techniques I’ve listed here this particular strategy for how to control excessive barking requires patience and consistency. If you aren’t consistent over time it won’t work.
Finally, When Trained Properly A Command Phrase Can Stop Barking in Seconds
When you practice this word, reward your dog for behaving for five seconds. Then for 10 seconds, a full minute, etc.
Once they’ve got it, begin to vary the time. This prevents their internal clock from determining how long they’re quiet… you want it to be your decision.
Excercise is Useful When Learning How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking.
I frequently say that a well-behaved dog is a tired dog. In fact, most of my trainer friends say the same thing.
If you know someone is coming over, the best thing to do is to wear your dog out first. Playing fetch, roughhousing, chasing around the house. Whatever works. (We often play hide and seek with our pup and he just loves it and is a tired heap of joy when we are done.)
Take your dog for a long walk, too. It will mentally challenge them and help to wear them out.
Then, even if they do bark when your visitor arrives, they will quickly tire of the new situation. Once they know you have the situation under control, they’ll be glad to go lay down.
Be patient, the process can take some time. Some breeds are more difficult to train to stop barking than others.
But with patience and consistency, you can teach any dog to stop barking excessively.
For most dogs solid positive training techniques will work for training your dog not to bark. There are some good resources in both books and courses that can further your knowledge.
Positive Dog Training Books
In dog training books, I like two:
- Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution (Found on Amazon): The Complete Guide to Raising the Perfect Pet with Love
- Training the Best Dog Ever (Found on Amazon): a 5-Week Program Using the Power of Positive Reinforcement.
Both of these books focus heavily on positive reinforcement techniques that are proven to work even on stubborn dogs and things like puppy barking or to stop dog barking at the door.
Of the two books, my preference is the “Training the Best Dog Ever” book, because it focuses more on training and less on introducing the dog to the family.
Recommended Dog Training Courses to Control Excessive Barking
There are two online video based training courses that I recommend.
These two courses serve two very different purposes. The Doggy Dan course is the best behavioral training course that I’ve ever used. It tackles problem behaviors like barking in ways that are innovative, kind, and most of all WORK.
The Brain Training for Dogs course is a course that will help give curious and bored dogs something to do so that they don’t get destructive. Bored dogs often behave badly. The games in this course are fun to play with your dog and they go from easy to very advanced. If you think your dog is barking out of boredom this video course is a good choice.
Summary: How to Train Your Dog Not to Bark
All dogs will bark some of the time, but you want it to be when it’s appropriate.
By using solid positive dog training techniques you can learn how to make a dog stop barking. It will take patience and work, but it is entirely possible to do.
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Please note: This post is not meant to prevent, treat or, cure any ailment or disease. We are not veterinarians and you use our advice at your own discretion. We always recommend that you consult your veterinarian whenever you have health-related conditions your furbaby is facing. With that in mind, as pet parents ourselves, we wish nothing but the best for your pet and their healthy and happy lives.