How to stop a dog from barking

How to stop a dog from barking – 8 things you must know

Barking is a big thing for any dog owner and it can be good or bad, depending on the situation. 

Knowing how to stop a dog from barking is an important part of your dog training and should be included in your daily routine especially for new dogs.

It is important to understand that not every dog is the same and some dogs have predisposed barking behaviour, and some don’t bark much.

Why do dogs bark?

The muzzle is the dog’s most important part of the body to sniff, eat and talk. Dogs bark to communicate with you along with dogs’ body language like whining and growling. 

These can help you to understand what your dog needs, but if barking becomes excessive, it can be difficult for everybody living in your home and also your neighbours. 

There are some strategies that you can use to make your dog behave the way you want.

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#1 Be calm

I understand it is annoying when your dog keeps barking, but it is important to stay calm and never yell at your dog.

If you yell, it is like you are barking back to your pet and he might think it should reply back by barking. This is not what you want.

#2 Be consistent

Being consistent in training is another important thing, and this is where, we humans, struggle the most. Even a small deviation from the trick or training exercise can make your dog puzzled and not making what you want.

Also, if you decide on your training schedule, you have to make sure your family members follow the rules.

I remember when teaching my dog, Capri to do her first tricks, I was, unknowingly, making a little adjustment to the trick and she was confused. Fortunately, I realized that quickly and we made good progress.

Teach your dog to Sit with Capri

#3 Remove the motivation, ignore and reward

Removing motivation is the first step in your barking training. Not all dog breeds are the same and it is difficult to apply a single rule to all of them.

The first part to start controlling your dog’s barking is to distract them from the stimulus causing them to bark. 

For example, our dog Capri often wanders to the balcony. She is normally a quiet dog, but occasionally in the past, but she started to bark furiously at the passerby. 

I did the following steps to stop that behaviour:

  • When she started barking on the balcony I immediately came there, looked around what she was barking at, and said ‘Ok Capri, good girl’
  • Only if she stopped barking, I rewarded her with a treat for spotting the passerby
  • I took her inside to remove the motivation immediately after

After a few weeks, she stopped barking at the people outside. Capri is a border collie, and I think she likes to protect our house and that is why she does not like anyone close to our house, but I think it applies to most dogs.

Some guides say that when the dog is barking at people or animals it is a good idea to close the curtains or put the dog in another room. This way you do remove the motivation and your dog will stop barking, but you are not really solving the problem. You only avoid it as it will happen again.

And this is where we come to desensitizing your dog from the stimulus.

#4 Desensitize and distract from the situation

Desensitizing your dog from the stimulus is the most important part of your dog barking training. Removing something that is causing barking is not easy, but once achieved you can get great results.

What normally distracts and annoys most of the dogs are people or other dogs.

The below steps can help you control your dog behaviour.

Example 1 – Barking at people and other dogs

Let’s say you are in the park and there are no people around, but you noticed that there is a couple with a dog coming from the distance. 

This is what you can do:

  • When the people are far, your dog saw them, normally it should start barking as they are far
  • After some time, when they approach you closer, you can start feeding your dog treats
  • Stop giving treats if the dog is annoyed and starts barking
  • Repeat the process daily and be patient as it makes take some time for your dog to adjust.
How to stop your dog from barking
How to stop your dog from barking

Example 2 – Barking when someone knocks the door

Another example when most dogs will bark is when someone is at the front door outside and rings a bell or knocks. Barking in this situation can be a good or bad thing. If you want to stop your dog barking, you can try distracting the dog by doing something else like the below steps.

  • Teach your dog ‘On your bed’ command’ – the dog should go immediately to its bed or a crate
  • You can do it by throwing a treat on the dog’s bed and saying the command
  • The dog should stay there until you use a release command e.g. ‘Ok’
  • When the dog reliably does it, you can try open the front door and if the dog remains still, reward it accordingly, otherwise close the door
  • Once the first part is mastered, you can ask someone to ring a bell and see how the dog behaves
  • Again, reward it with a treat, otherwise, repeat the process after a few minutes

You can try different activities to distract the dog. If you presently focus on limiting the barking keep all your exercises related to that.

The most important part is, when the dog starts barking, immediately try to distract it with other activities and rewards.

We prepared Capri a nice bed were she felt comfortable
We prepared Capri a nice bed were she felt comfortable

#5 Excercise enough

Depending on the breed, most dogs need to exercise regularly. If they don’t, they are full of energy that cannot be utilised. They will try to do anything to get something going on.

So, if you have a running dog, like a border collie, retriever, spaniel, pointer or German shepherd, make sure you run them a lot. On the other hand, exercising your dog regularly helps your dog to stay healthy.

How to stop your dog from barking
How to stop your dog from barking – Capri has to run for 30 minutes every day

#6 Follow the professional course

Another option is to attend a professional behaviour dog course. You have two options. You can either enrol your dog for obedience class in your local area or follow one of the professional online courses.

The disadvantage of the first option is it is more costly and you have to be physically there with your dog for up to 10 classes. The advantage of this enrolment option is that your dog will train among other dogs, thus it will learn how to behave while distracted.

The second, affordable option is to follow the instruction of an online course. This way you can do it at your pace and know your dog better by analysing and correcting its mistakes while training.

With Capri, we use the Brain Training for Dogs course that was developed by Adrianne Farricelli, a CPDT-KA certified dog trainer.

It is a 7 module course that is divided into preschool, elementary school, high school, college, university, graduation and einstein. They are simply 7 ways progression steps.

Read more about Brain Training for Dogs

#7 Electronic devices?

As technology grows and we invent many useful gadgets, there are some devices to help you with this process.

One of the devices pet shops offer is vibration collar. This type of collar is designed in a special way. When your dog starts barking, it gives sudden and harmless vibrations to make the dog uncomfortable.

Personally, I think this is not such a good idea. The vibrations are harmless but they definitely give your dog some discomfort. Would you like to have a vibration collar on your neck? I don’t think so.

Before using a device like that you may consult your vet and check if your dog is likely to respond to this type of training.

#8 Talk to your vet

One of the reasons your dog behaves not the way you want is, it has more than average anxiety levels in some situations. Some breeds are more get more agitated, some less.

If you tried everything and it does not work, it is worth paying your vet a visit and ask for advice.

In our case, Capri was really scared when going to the vet (like many breeds). We had consulted with the vet and we got some anxiety pills for Capri. Thus, the next few visits, we gave her half a pill to make her calmer. After some time, she liked the vet and started behaving normally when inside the building.

How to stop your dog from barking - consult with your vet
How to stop your dog from barking – consult with your vet

How to stop a dog from barking – Final thoughts

Stopping your dog barking is one of the training exercises to teach and make your life easier. After all, having a dog should be a pleasure and not a burden.

When you get a dog, whether it is a puppy or an adopted rescue dog, the first thing on your list should be to remove all unwanted behaviour. The sooner you start the sooner you get a nice, polite dog that brings you pleasure.

Remember to be calm and consistent, try to understand your dog to learn together and achieve the desired behaviour.

Please let me know how you thought your dog to stop barking? Leave a comment below.

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Brain Training for Dogs

Brain Training for Dogs was developed by CPDT-KA certified dog trainer Adrianne Farricelli. CPDT-KA stands for Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed.

Adrienne lives in Arizona with her husband and two amazing Rottweilers and she is passionate about dogs. She was featured in USA Today and Every Dog magazine and also contributed to eHow and All Experts.

Her Brain Training for Dogs program helped thousands of struggling dog owners all over the world.

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