Dogs have a natural need for barking. It is their primary way of communicating after expression and body posture.
Dogs will bark as a warning to protect their pack and territory. They will also bark to express excitement.
Those forms of barking are rarely a nuisance and don’t last long. That is why nuisance barking almost always has the same cause and the same solution. When a dog barks excessively, it’s telling you that it is bored and is looking for stimulation or a challenge.
Inevitably, excessive barking indicates there is a problem with the human, and not the dog; there is something not balanced in the pack, so the dog’s needs are not being met. Barking is the only way they can tell you that something is wrong.
Dogs need exercise, discipline and affection in order to stop barking. Exercise and discipline will provide the physical as well as psychological stimulation they crave.
Affection will provide the dog with a sense of belonging to its pack. This will help you reestablish the dog as a happy member of your household and restore leadership to the human pack leader.
Controlling Your Dog's Excitement
I’m sure you’ve seen it countless times — somebody with a small, excited dog that won’t stop barking, who then picks up the dog to try to stop it. Unfortunately, this is exactly the wrong approach.
The attention and affection from being picked up tells the dog, “I like what you’re doing right now.”
This is unintended positive
reinforcement, and it only takes a few times to train a dog that its barking is something you want. But it doesn’t only happen in the above scenario.
Calm and Assertive
Being calm and assertive around your dog whenever you can, will always make obedience and training easier in the future. This can be tricky, but will lead to a substantially better relationship and overall behavior down the road.
More information on how to be calm and assertive with your dog
Greeting Excited Dogs
How many of you come home to be greeted by your dog’s excited jumping and spinning and barking? And how many of you immediately give affection in return for what you interpret as happiness?
This is one of the most difficult things for dog lovers to grasp. When a dog returns to its pack, they are not greeted with excited barking and jumping. Sometimes, there will be sniffs and tail wags, but most of the time it’s no big deal when a dog comes back to the pack. Unfortunately, we humans tend to make a big deal out of coming and going from home, and this puts your dog in the wrong state of mind.
If you greet your dog in an excited manner, then she will come to expect your return to be a time of excitement. This means that, while she’s waiting for you to come back, she will anticipate that excitement, and become frustrated and bored.
Now, if you also make a big deal before you go, you’ve left your dog in an excited state as well. This is the perfect formula to create an excessive barking problem.
Quick Tips for A Barking Dog
- If you want to stop your dog from barking, the worst thing to do is yell back at them.
- Keeping your training sessions and your overall environment positive is a big key to reducing barking.
- Keep things consistent, your family should be in the loop with your training methods when they bark inappropriately.
- Praise and reward your dog when they’re appropriate, while keeping them in an excited state only when the excitement is warranted (i.e., dog training or playing fetch).
- Never reward behavior with physical affection. This will train your dog that barking is the way to get your attention.
Exercise and Discipline
The solution to your dog barking could sometimes be more simple than you think. It begins with providing your dog plenty of exercise via the walk, along with discipline by giving him jobs to do and commands to learn. But, most importantly, it requires that you do not reward unwanted behavior, particularly excitement, with affection.
Don’t worry. Your dog won’t think you’re mean if you aren’t petting them or giving out treats 24/7. Your dog wants to earn your affection. Allowing them to do that, and to see your happiness is, to your dog, the biggest reward of all.
Ignore the barking
If you begin to see that your dog is barking to get your attention, a good technique is to simply turn your back and ignore them. Make sure you aren’t rewarding the dog for being noisy by giving any attention, don’t talk to them, don’t touch them, don’t even look at them.
For Example: When Using a Crate
- First, when barking, put them in their crate or gated room and turn your back to them.
- Once they stop barking, turn around, praise them, and offer a treat.
- As their training continues, lengthen the amount of time they must remain quiet before being rewarded.
- Remember to start small by rewarding them for being quiet for just a few seconds, then working up to longer periods of quiet.
- One technique is to vary the amount of time you keep your back turned. Keep it fun by rewarding them every five, ten, fifteen, twenty seconds, and then mix it up!
Remove Their Motivation
A dog may bark because they want something or a reward. And usually if their barking is consistent, they are consistently getting what they want from it.
Be sure to stop rewarding this behavior and remove their triggers when you can.
- If your dogs bark at people or animals passing by the living room window, close the curtains or put your dog in another room.
- If something like this continues to happen, it may be beneficial to get a toy that can keep your dog busy for a few hours.
This may not always be the case, there can be numerous reasons for why your dog is barking. For more information on figuring out specifics on what your dog’s barking means, check out the article linked below.
Expose Your Dog to The Stimulus
Whether it’s the neighbor’s dog, the mail man, or passing cars, it can always be helpful to expose your dog to the stimulus that is making them bark. You’ll want to start by moving your dog a distance away from the stimulus so that it is not barking.
Then, slowly move them a little closer while giving them plenty of treats as they control their barking. If the stimulant moves out of their line of sight, stop giving treats so they can learn that they are only rewarded when it is around.
For Example: With a Friends Dog
- Have a friend with a dog stand far enough away so your dog won’t bark at the other dog.
- As your friend and their dog slowly come into view, start petting/feeding your own dog treats.
- When you can’t see the friend and their dog, stop feeding them treats.
- Repeat the process multiple times or as often as needed.
- Be patient and try not to progress too quickly, as it might take days or weeks for your dog to stop barking when you’re trying to distract them with a treat.
Keep Your Dog/Puppy Engaged
Make sure that your dog is getting both physical and mental exercise every day. A tired dog is one who won’t be irritated from boredom or frustration and certainly will not bark as much.
Some breeds of dogs are more prone to barking than others. However, long walks and a challenging game or toys can usually help curb this problem.
Especially when dealing with puppies, you will find it easier to control your pet if you intentionally take some of your time and get them out to play everyday. Once again, it may not be a bad idea to invest in some interactive toys that will keep your dog’s brain active.
Get Some Help
While you can handle dog barking issues yourself, sometimes it just takes a few more people to help you out. It may be beneficial to seek the advice of dog trainers and professionals in dog care when you feel like there’s no stopping this problem.
Contact A Professional Dog Trainer
If you still see no success to stop barking after endless attempts, you should seriously consider dog training classes with a professional.
It is one of the most practical ways to help stop dog barking, and it will be much easier for dog owners to learn if there’s a dog trainer helping them through the process.
More information on choosing a dog training professional
What sets off your dog’s barking? And how do you address it? Tell us in the comments.