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How Can I Make My Dog Stop Barking??


Why do dogs bark?

Breed – some dogs were bred to bark such as hounds and dogs used as guards

Frustration – energy not burned by appropriate exercise can manifest itself in barking

Emotional need – boredom, anxiety, excitement

Attention – barking will get them attention – whether it is good or bad

Noise – dogs, people, thunder, cars, horns, doorbells, fireworks etc….

Physical need – hungry, needs to eliminate


Barking can be one of the most difficult behaviors to modify.  It is a self rewarding activity meaning the act of barking is its own reward in many instances. Barking is also an normal and innate behavior, meaning barking is in a dog's genetic makeup. A basic foundation of obedience training is a must! Excessive barking, really is not the problem, it is a symptom.  To cure the symptom, we must find out why he is barking to decrease the occurance and teach him to stop barking when you say.

Leaving your dog in the back yard while you are away can lead to boredom, excited or anxious barking.  Excessive barking outdoors may lead to lawsuits.  It may be best to leave your dog inside or in a crate if necessary to prevent the annoyance to your neighbors.  If your dog is barking in the back yard, try leaving then sneaking back to a spot where you can watch your dog without him knowing you are there and observe when he is barking.  Is he barking at something he sees or hears or is he barking just for the sake of barking?   If you see that he is barking AT something, the first thing to do is try to prevent the dog from seeing or hearing the things that are triggering his barking.  If he is barking for the sake of barking, that is something entirely different. 

Is he bored?  Make sure he has plenty of toys that you can rotate on a daily basis.  Chew toys that can be stuffed with a yummy filling then frozen can keep your dog busy.  Hiding different toys around the back yard or in the house can also keep him busy looking for the next toy (this is not recommended for dogs that are destructive).  Interactive toys that make noise, have food stuffed in them or can be pushed around for treats to fall out of are all great ways to keep him busy.

Dogs are highly social animals; they need adequate exercise, stimulation and attention for them to lead a balanced life.  When they don't get the exercise, stimulation and attention, they become frustrated and that frustration will manifest into unacceptable behaviors such as excessive barking, digging, destructive chewing etc…

Do not scold or comfort your dog when he is barking as this will either have no effect or encourage this behavior.  Wait until there is a lull in the barking and then praise your dog for being quiet. 

Socializing your pet to new experiences is important.  Expose him to new people, sights and sounds and praise and reward when he is quiet.  This needs to be done often and repeated throughout his life.

If your dog is barking in his crate, it is very important not to talk to him, yell at him or give him any attention what so ever until he has stopped barking.  Timing is critical; the only time he is allowed out of his crate is when he is being quiet.  Keeping your dog on a feeding schedule and knowing approximately when your dog needs to go potty will help you determine if he is barking because he needs to potty or because he just wants out or wants your attention. 

If your dog is inside and barking at noises outside, leaving the television or radio on at a medium level can help take his mind off the sudden noises that happen outside.  If he is barking at things he sees, try leaving the blinds closed or blocking off the area that gives him a view to the outside world.

To stop your dog from barking excessively, teach the "quiet" cue (you can name it anything you want to such as "shh", "enough", "thank you").  This is done in stages:

Stage 1 – Teaching your dog that "Quiet" equals yummy things. 

When your dog is NOT barking, say "quiet" along with a hand signal such as putting your finger to your lips, or you can choose your own command and hand signal and give your dog a high value treat.  Repeat this as often as you can until when you are in another room and you say quiet he comes running to you knowing he will get a treat; and until you can just give the hand signal and he gets excited knowing he is getting a treat.

Stage 2 – Teaching your dog what "Quiet" or "Shh" means.

Now that your pup associates the sound with yummy things, wait until he is barking and say "quiet" along with using your hand signal and then just wait.  Do not repeat the cue.  The instant your pup stops barking, say "good quiet" and give the yummy treat.  Do this until as soon as you say "quiet" or give the hand signal, he stops barking.

Stage 3 – Expecting a longer silence.

Once he understands that when you say quiet, he has to stop barking, you start to delay giving the treat.  Slowly increase the amount of time your pup has to be quiet before getting the treat.  At first it should be just a couple of seconds, and then slowly add a couple of seconds at a time until when you say quiet, he stays quiet.  You may need to distract him once he has stopped barking by leading him to another area, doing some obedience practice with him or play a game with him.

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About the Author

I believe dog training should be fun, rewarding and exciting for both the dog and the human.  I take a scientific approach to training and train through love, kindness and respect with clearly defined rules and boundaries and get fabulous results.  I have been a trainer for 20 years, graduated from Animal Behavior College (ABCDT), I am certified through Association of Professional Dog Trainers/Certification Counsel for Professional Dog Trainers (CPDT-KA) and the International Association of Canine Professionals (CDT).  I am the founder and president of HEARTland Positive Dog Training Alliance; a group of pet professionals and dog owners dedicated to positive reinforcement training. 

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