How to Train Your Dog to Not Bark at Neighbors

Hard
3-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Hey, we all know dogs are going to bark. It's their natural and only way to communicate with each other and the rest of the world. While most dogs will bark for a good reason, there are some that seem to bark for little or no reason, such as when the neighbors come out in their yard. Some breeds are more prone to excessive barking than others. Often, it is not the need to train your dog not to bark at all (this isn't likely to happen), it is the need to train your pup not to bark at specific times. Your neighbors are sure to appreciate the fact that they will finally be able to go out in their yard without your pup going ballistic. 

Defining Tasks

Essentially, the concept is to stop your dog from barking at your neighbors. In order to do that, you first need to understand why your dog is barking in the first place. There are four basic reasons why your dog keeps barking at the neighbors.

  • Protectiveness: Your pup sees your yard as his territory and he is barking to let everyone else know it.
  • Fear: Maybe your neighbors startle your pup when they come out in the backyard.
  • Greeting: Maybe your pup is simply trying to say "Hi!" to your neighbors or their dog.
  • Excessive: This can be an indication that your dog's needs are simply not being met.

No matter the cause, your job is to teach your dog not to bark at the neighbors or, for that matter, anyone else who happens to walk by your house. Bear in mind, you should never yell at your dog to stop barking, this will only exacerbate the situation. Make training sessions fun and positive or your dog will not want to learn. 

Getting Started

The simple fact is that you can teach a dog to stop barking in most situations. No, you will not be able to stop his barking completely (short of surgically removing his voice box, which is not recommended), but at least you can train him when it is okay to bark and when it's not. You can use a variety of commands such as "No bark!" or "Stop barking!" You will need plenty of your pup's favorite treats and, if you use one, a training clicker. The most important thing to remember is that you need to be consistent with your pup, anything less will only lead to confusion that will make the barking worse, not better. One last thing, a muzzle is no substitute for proper training and should never be used to keep your dog from barking. 

The Mark and Bark Method

ribbon-method-1
Most Recommended
2 Votes
Step
1
Mark his barking
The minute your dog starts to bark, use a word like "Yes!" and give him a treat. It is vital you mark his bark as soon as he starts. If he won't bark, try making him bark using something that typically gets him excited enough to bark.
Step
2
Add a cue to the bark
Now when he starts to bark add a cue word like "Speak". Then use the cue word to get him to bark and use the same mark and reward as in the previous step. Repeat this until your dog matches the command to the action. This helps your dog to understand that he gets a reward for barking on cue but at no other time.
Step
3
Wait him out
Now you have to wait him out. No cue, no actions, nothing, just wait for him to bark. It won't take long since he has just learned he gets rewards for barking. When he does, do not reward him or use your mark word. Instead, treat him to a few seconds of silence and then tell him to "Speak!" and use your mark and reward. Again, repeat this step until he knows when to bark on cue and not to unless you give the cue.
Step
4
End the barking
Now it's time to put an end to the barking. Give your pup the bark cue and when stops barking give him your quiet cue (You can use "Quiet!" or "Hush!" or anything else), it doesn't matter as long as you are consistent and give him a treat. Keep repeating this until you can anticipate when he is ready to stop barking, then give your quiet command and treat him when he obeys. This is going to take a while, so be patient.
Step
5
Bark/no bark
Now that your dog has demonstrated his ability to speak only when he is given the command, you should practice this step frequently. Mix and match this with other skills to get him used to recognizing the commands and acting upon them the instant he hears them.
Step
6
Going outside
Move the training outside and have your neighbor help you out by walking out into his yard and wandering around in a way that would normally make your pup bark. Use the quiet command to make him stop barking. Repeat until he no longer tries to bark when your neighbors are in their backyards. Just remember to be patient and never scold your pup when he gets it wrong, just use the quiet command and reward him when he behaves.
Recommend training method?

The Basic Concepts Method

ribbon-method-2
Effective
1 Vote
Step
1
Come inside
The last thing your pup wants to do is spend a lot of time out in the yard away from his "pack". Leaving him out in the yard for long periods can lead to a number of behavioral problems, including excessive barking at the neighbors.
Step
2
Walk and play
Be sure to take your dog for long walks every day and play with him as much as you can. The more you can keep your pup tired out, the less energy he is going to have to spend barking at his neighbors.
Step
3
Introductions all round
Since your dog seems to feel the neighbors are a threat and that his job is to scare them away by barking, it is time you introduce them to each other. Do so in a calm manner and let your pup get to know them so that he can see they pose no threat.
Step
4
Train your dog to bark on command
Spend time working with your pup, teaching him to bark on command. Use a cue word like "speak" as he starts to bark and give him a treat. Repeat this until you can tell your pup to speak and he starts barking. Be sure to use lots of treats and praise.
Step
5
Train your dog to stop barking on command
Now that you can get your dog to start barking on command, it's time to teach him to stop barking on command. You can practice this by catching him just as he stops barking and using the command 'quiet' or your choice of commands. When he does, be sure to reward him with a treat and plenty of praise. Keep working at this until he will only bark on command and stops the minute you tell him to. This will teach him to remain quiet in the yard unless you tell him to speak.
Recommend training method?

The Meet the Neighbors Method

ribbon-method-3
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Plan a dinner date
If you are on good terms with your neighbors, get together with them and plan a dinner date for them to come over to your home.
Step
2
No contact
When your neighbors arrive, have them completely ignore your pup. This means no eye contact, no petting, just ignore him.
Step
3
Give treats
Give your neighbors a handful of his favorite treats and have them slowly drop them one at a time on the floor.
Step
4
Limited interactions
Once your pup seems to be comfortable with the neighbors, you can start to allow limited interaction between them.
Step
5
Go outside and play
Take everyone outside and engage in a little fun and games. This is a great way to give your pup the time he needs to get to know your neighbors and will stop his barking at him.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Lilly
Brittany (Spaniel)
10 Years
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Question
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Lilly
Brittany (Spaniel)
10 Years

My dog has been excessively barking at our neighbors when they walk by. Our front door is sliding glass on one side so you can see and hear our neighbors when they walk by. She has been aggressively barking anytime they walk by. When we are home it isn’t as bad and we can control it, but when we are gone she does it uncontrollably. Any advice would be much appreciated! Thank you.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1106 Dog owners recommended

Hello Alexandria, First, pup needs to be confined where they don't have access to that door while you are gone right now. Pup being allowed to practice the barking when you aren't there to interrupt and train will undo other training efforts I am about to go over. Barking itself can be a self-rewarding behavior due to the chemicals released in pup's brain when they practice it. This can become habitual and pup overly sensitive to triggers when pup is triggered to bark uninterrupted frequently. Have pup stay somewhere like a certain room while away until things improve, or get a curtain or blinds pup can't push away to cover that door when you choose. Second, I would work on desensitizing pup to the neighbors walking by, starting by doing this while you are home. I would also interrupt pup's barking whenever they to begin. Check out the article I have linked below and the Quiet and Desensitize methods. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Check out the video series I have linked below and the video Barking at Dogs Behind Fences, and Barking at the Door, to also learn more about desensitizing in general. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a I would recruit friends of your to pretend to be neighbors. Have them dress up to where pup won't recognize them if pup doesn't bark at them when they walk outside. Recruit different friends for this, working with just one person or couple at a time. Have that person walk by outside at a further distance, practice Quiet with pup each time the person passes from a distance pup is less concerned about. When pup is doing well, slowly have the person decrease the distance between them and pup at the door. Practice this over a series of training sessions, 30 or so minutes long each, with at least one hour breaks between (the next day or two is fine too); do this until the people can walk by at the distance pup barks at the neighbors at and pup will remain calm and not start barking at all. At this point, reward pup for staying quiet when the person passes, not just barking then stopping after. When pup is good with the first friend(s), then recruit the next, different, friend to do the same exercise. Ideally this would be repeated with a dozen different people (Pay a few people a few bucks each to come do this if needed). Once pup is doing well, start stepping further and further away from pup, tossing a treat over to pup for staying quiet, until you have worked yourself away from pup and pup is watching out the window and still quiet. When you see your actual neighbors walk by, take the opportunity to practice this in real life. If you don't want to keep pup confined away from the window long term, you may need something like an automatic treat dispensing device that will reward pup for staying quiet while you are away, and/or a bark collar stimulation, vibration, or unscented air (not citronella - the scent lingers too long to train effectively and be fair to pup), to enforce the training while away once pup has learned they are supposed to do. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Hudson
German Shepherd
1 Year
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Question
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Hudson
German Shepherd
1 Year

We have new neighbours that are building next door, they are not the nicest people and are not willing to cooperate with us. Hudson does not bark at any other neighbours or previous neighbours and he is responsive in most situation except when the new neighbours are home. He barks excessively and will hardly listen. Since cooperating with the neighbours is out of the question, we are unsure of what to do and we usually keep him inside or outside on a lead. Thank you for taking your time to read my message.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1106 Dog owners recommended

Hello Connor, I would start by teaching pup the Quiet command. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Next, I would go outside with pup and act silly and get pup excited to trigger pup to bark, when pup barks, say quiet and freeze. When pup stops barking, reward, so pup is starting to associate Quiet with the yard too. You can also try playing videos of things pup may bark at outside too, like howling dogs videos, high pitched music, or sirens. Practice Quiet outside until pup's response is good. When your neighbors come outside and pup barks, command Quiet with pup on a long leash, using the long leash to reel pup toward you and away from the fence line if pup ignores you. As soon as pup gets quiet for even a second, reward with praise and a treat. Practice this often, limiting pup's time in the fence when you can't be outside with pup - you might want to take pup potty in the front yard on leash for a little bit to prevent barking when you can't train. When pup will immediately become quiet when commanded to when the neighbors are out there, then you might need to add in some remote collar training for when you can't be outside with pup. So the collar corrects the barking and you reward quietness, giving pup both yes and no feedback. This collar can either be a standard bark collar if pup will be outside when you aren't home in the future, or a remote training collar, which allows you to control the intensity and frequency of corrections, and also teach a vibration Quiet command, so you can remind pup to stop barking before having to correct. I prefer the remote training option because it's less harsh, but that's only helpful if pup is only outside when you are away. Only use a high quality collar, like Garmin, E-collar technologies, or Dogtra. Don't use citronella - the scent lingers in a dog's sensitive nose, meaning the correction doesn't stop even when pup gets quiet. You only want something that's instantaneous then stops as soon as pup gets quiet, without a lingering effect. I would also recruit friends and family pup doesn't know - or who are disguised for pup not to recognize right away to periodically practice approaching your fence where they won't bother your neighbors, practice Quiet with pup when they approach, and then have those people toss treats over the fence and leave again, so pup is less territorial of the fence line in general. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Chase
Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler)
1 Year
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Question
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Chase
Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler)
1 Year

My dog kept barking at the neighbor and their kids. We are not really close friends at the neighbor so I can’t invite them over or introduce my dog as they are afraid of him, they said my dog is aggressive which I don’t think so as he is friendly at everyone even people at the grooming. He tends to jump on people when he gets excited. What should I do to teach him not to bark?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1106 Dog owners recommended

Hello Rubi, If the neighbor was walking past your fence and pup was barking, pup was probably being territorial, as long as pup is still friendly once you invite people onto the property or into your home. This alert barking is common, but I would always err on the side of caution and make sure pup is securely inside the fence, especially around anyone who is fearful of him. A territorial dog may still bite if they think someone who isn't supposed to be there is entering your property. With that said, I would start by practicing the Quiet method from the article I have linked below. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Once pup knows Quiet, then recruit people pup doesn't know well and will bark at, like friends and family to walk past your property. As soon as pup sees them, before or after pup has barked, command Quiet, then wait until pup takes a break in the barking for at least a second, and quickly praise and reward while pup is still quiet. Have the "stranger" pass by and practice pup being quiet until pup no longer barks at all when the person passes by, in anticipation of being told Quiet and earning a reward. Practice rewarding pup's quietness, without the initial barking, while the person passes by several times at this point as well. When pup no longer barks when the first person comes by, recruit a new friend or family member to practice with. You will need to end the training session for that day once pup is consistently quiet, but the same person can probably come another day and pup will bark again and you can practice Quiet more...you can practice with that same person if they are willing until pup doesn't bark at all when the person comes for training sessions. Practice this type of training often with various people until pup no longer barks when a person comes by and you are outside with pup. At this point, pup will probably decide they can bark when you are not there still, and will bark then. If pup is outside at times when you are not there and you need pup to be quiet at those times too, then I would introduce a remote training collar at this point. I would choose one with a beep and stimulation settings, so you can beep the collar while you are there when you say "Quiet" so pup will learn that the beep means Quiet, then correct pup on their working level - which is the lowest level pup indicates they can feel the collar on, determined ahead of time in a calm environment, if pup doesn't obey the Quiet command and beep. If pup obeys and gets quiet, reward. Eventually with practice, when you are inside and you hear pup barking, you can beep the collar to remind pup to be quiet, then correct on the stimulation mode when pup doesn't obey and is still barking. Once pup is quiet and calm about people passing your home, you can also have the friends and family you know, that pup thinks are strangers, toss a couple treats over the fence to pup while pup is staying quiet and calm, to help pup associate the "strangers" themselves with good things. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Xavier
Shepsky
10 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Xavier
Shepsky
10 Months

He won’t stop barking
He doesn’t listen

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
257 Dog owners recommended

Hello. Barking and excitability can be a challenging behavior to turn around. Because it is so complex, I am sending you an article full of great information that can help you. https://www.petplace.com/article/dogs/pet-behavior-training/excessive-barking-in-dogs/

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Question
charlie
Miniature Schnauzer
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
charlie
Miniature Schnauzer
3 Years

barking at the neighbors when they come out in their yard
and jumping on/barking at anyone who comes to the front door.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1106 Dog owners recommended

Hello Karen, Is pup at all aggressive toward people, or simply overly excited and alert to them? If aggressive, I recommend working with a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues like aggression and has a staff or works with a team of trainers so that various trainers can help pup learn to adjust to new people. If pup is simply overly excited, check out the articles and methods I have included below. Jumping - Leash method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump Barking at guests - Quiet method and Desensitize method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Desensitizing to guests video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpzvqN9JNUA Place command - to give pup a calm spot to go to until calm when guests are around. This will have to be worked up to gradually. Starting with short amounts of time and you close by, gradually adding in distractions like you walking away, dropping a toy, other family members coming home, then finally recruiting some friends to be "guests" to practice pup staying on Place around. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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