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

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.
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The Basic Concepts Method

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

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.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Mack
American Bulldog
2 Years
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Question
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Mack
American Bulldog
2 Years

Mack is 115lb we moved from a rural area about 6 months ago.
He is excellent on the leash. Until we moved. Now we have a neighborhood and it's busy. If we run into a dog I'm struggling to keep his attention.I dont react either cause I know he feels me.
I bring soft high value treats and have got him on my mouth clicking noise he knows I'm offering a reward/ distraction he immediately looks at me and meets my knee for it and I try to keep him there walking till we pass and then I release the treat. This has failed to get his attention and Ive tried to just pull along and keep walking but he's to strong. So I tried making him sit. But he pays no attention. Also have this house right near by and we have no choice but to pass they have an electronic fence for their dogs and ofcourse they bark their heads off When we walk by and Mack is so reactive cause he sees there is nothing between us I guess ...any way I'm trying to pull him to continue our walk trying all my methods pulling with all my might cause he just wants to go over the ditch to them and show them who is boss. Mack is a friendly guy but he's also dominant. He has dog friends but these dogs he's tail up hackles up pulling full on hound barking. Kills me.
How can I just keep us moving?
Sometimes my methods work and sometimes they don't. Can you help me? Cause it's so embarrassing.

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
66 Dog owners recommended

Hello, Mack is a big handsome boy. It sounds as though you are doing everything right and keeping consistent which is good. It is unfortunate about the neighbor's dogs, the barking, and the fencing situation. I suggest that you keep working on the Heel: The Turns Method:https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel. You can actually try all of the methods. If you change it up, it may be more interesting and keep his focus better. Also, take a look here: https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs. It is a good idea to take Mack to obedience classes, too. Then you have hands-on instruction and more socialization to cement his already good skills. This site has many good videos. See if any help and you may be able to talk to a trainer: https://robertcabral.com/. All the best!

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Question
scoobie
Maltese
8 Years
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Question
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scoobie
Maltese
8 Years

when my neighbors dog comes out in his yard my dog runs out and barks at him and is very acessive how do i fix it

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
621 Dog owners recommended

Hello Dololres, Is your dog normally dog-aggressive or does he only respond to your neighbors dog that way? If Scoobie is normally friendly toward other dogs and your neighbors dog is also friendly and well socialized, I suggest coordinating a meet and greet in a neutral place with your neighbor and their dog, somewhere like the park or another part of your neighborhood, so that it's neither dog's territory. Take the dogs on a walk together and help them to get to know one another in a calm, structured way from simply hanging out together while doing something purposeful like heeling down the street. Have these walks regularly until the dogs are familiar with one another. Once they are friends, there should be less territorial-ism about the yard. If your dog normally does not get along with other dogs, you need to work on dealing with his aggression toward all dogs. I suggest joining a G.R.O.W.L. class in your area to safely socialize him with other dogs. G.R.O.W.L. classes are classes specifically for dog-aggressive or reactive dogs, who are socialized in a close careful setting under the supervision of a trainer while wearing muzzles to keep everyone safe. The class tends to work quicker than socializing more gradually from a distance. Also, work on teaching her the "Quiet" command so that you can clearly communicate to her what to do and she will understand. Check out the article that I have linked below and follow the "Quiet" method. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Marley
Australian Shepherd
3 Years
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Question
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Marley
Australian Shepherd
3 Years

When I take my 3-year-old male Aussie named Marley for a walk he consistently barks and lunges at anyone we pass. However, whenever he is introduced to new people or dogs off-leash, he does just fine. We had learned to just live with it, but now that we have moved into a new condo with a gated front porch, the problem is worse than ever. Marley will bark at any person walking by with such rage my neighbors are scared of him. Again, he has never exhibited any signs of aggression towards people or another dog, but his bark is deafening and quite frankly terrifying. How do I correct these behaviors before it escalates? Bark collar didn't phase him.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
621 Dog owners recommended

Hello, First, work on teaching the "Quiet" command. Check out the article linked below and the Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Second, work on correcting the barking using an interuptor, such as a Pet Convincer (which is a small canister of pressurized, unscented air). A remote training collar with adjustable levels and vibration feature can also be used but you need a good one for it to work properly and to learn how to use it on the correct level, fitted correctly, and with the right timing. Some dogs will redirect aggression and bite whoever is close by if interrupted (and sometimes just standing there) so a remote training collar is better for dogs that may do this - so that you don't have to be near the dog when correcting. When pup barks, command "Quiet" (once you have taught that command). If he obeys, reward with a treat and calm praise. If he keeps barking calmly correct while saying "Ah Ah" in a calm tone of voice (avoid sounding angry or excited...Calmness can help pup calm down too). Check out the video linked below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfiDe0GNnLQ Third, desensitize pup to the things he is barking at - people mostly. Whenever he sees a person, hears something he would normally bark at, or is generally tempted to bark, BEFORE he barks, while he is calm, and/or if he stays quiet when you command quiet, calmly tell him "Good" and reward with a treat (you can keep his daily kibble in a ziplock bag in your pocket right now for this). The goal is to reward his good behavior while also gradually helping him associate people and staying calm around people with good things. When you aren't home to enforce all this he should be confined in a room where he can't look outside or crated away from windows and the balcony - you don't want him practicing the bad behavior while you are trying to replace it with a good behavior - that will interfere with your training efforts. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Jasper
Blue Heeler X Beagle
2 Years
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Question
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Jasper
Blue Heeler X Beagle
2 Years

Jasper is friendly and very well socialised but he jumps up against the fence and howls at neighbours when they’re in their back yard. One neighbour has recently expressed his annoyance over this. Our dog is inside all night and during the day is mostly inside with me but in the morning and late afternoon he enjoys being outside. He doesn’t bark excessively, in fact if he barks we bring him inside, but that brief bark is loud because of his beagle heritage and I can understand they don’t like his feet banging on the metal fence too (it’s not see thru but sometimes he can see poles or heads over the fence or children jumping on their trampoline, but even if not if they’re talking loud he will bark). He doesn’t get the chance to bark much because we are on top of it but they are complaining about that first initial bark. We feel it’s a bit unfair to expect a dog to never bark at all just because he happens to be louder than other dogs, and if an intruder was climbing the fence a bark would be a good thing! But we are also renting so we can’t have any council complaints and want to have peace with neighbours. Is there anything we can do? Right now we just have him inside all day unless we go out with him (I would have gotten a smaller dog to suit our smaller house if I knew the poor guy would be inside all day! We have such a big yard!) and as a half cattle dog who loves napping in the sun every morning I feel like it’s unfair and boring for him inside. Is it possible to train a dog not to bark at neighbours at all? Even if we aren’t outside with him?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
621 Dog owners recommended

Hello Tamara, There are two routes you can take with this. The first is to work really hard on desensitizing him to the presence of the neighbors while you are out there with him. Go outside with him every time and each time the neighbors come outside, give a treat BEFORE he reacts badly - so that he associates the neighbors with something pleasant. Work on teaching an Out and Leave It command and use those commands anytime he tries to go over to the fence (it's easier to teach him to avoid the fence line closest to the neighbors altogether many times). Out - check out the section on pushy behavior also to enforce your command is he is ignoring you once he has learned Out: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method - never reward with the treat or object pup is supposed to be leaving, always reward with something else, so pup learns to forget/ignore what they are supposed to be leaving and not wait around for it: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Another good way to practice this, is to practice the Quiet method with a recruited friend outside the part of your fence/gate near your front yard (not having to go into your neighbors yard), to desensitize pup to noises outside the fence in general. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark A final option (in combination with desensitization/positive reinforcement methods above) is to either use a pet barrier device - which is a device that corrects pup via a stimulation collar worn whenever pup gets to close to the device. You would place the device against the fence near your neighbor to keep pup back from the fence to stop the jumping - this would not deter the barking on it's own though. OR, to use a bark collar - which could stop the barking but not the jumping. Work on the other methods I mentioned first to help with the more general training though and you could use one of these devices if needed at that point just to enforce training better when you are not present later - once pup is already trained. If you use a bark collar, do not use citronella - its actually very harsh because of how sensitive a dog's nose is and the smell lingers too long to be an effective training tool. Unscented air, vibration, or stimulation are better choices than citronella most often. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
bonnie
Australian Shepherd
2 Years
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Question
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bonnie
Australian Shepherd
2 Years

Bonnie barks, growls, and lunges at people she can see through windows, when new people come over, at neighbors when we’re on walks or playing in the yard, she barks at other dogs whether she can see them or not, and she even barks occasionally at my dad and brother when they first get home. I’ve read that it’s characteristic of Aussies to bark and be protective, but sometimes it’s scary and aggressive. She’s the first dog we’ve ever had and i’m not sure which steps to take in correcting this behavior.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
621 Dog owners recommended

Hello Anna, How does she do when actually meeting people? Is she also aggressive toward strangers up close, or is it just when she sees them from inside or further away on leash? If she is simply reacting to seeing them but completely fine up close with strangers when meeting, I suggest desensitizing her to seeing people. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpzvqN9JNUA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXCELHDT2fs Be sure to reward seconds of good response and reward pup after they see the trigger but before they react badly to it - it will be a window of just a couple of seconds between at first, so timing is important. If pup doesn't do well with people up close either, this is an aggression issue that will need additional work. I suggest hiring a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues and aggression to help in person or remotely at least. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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