How to Train Your Dog to Not Bark in the Morning

Hard
2-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

It all started when the dog had an upset tummy. In the early hours of the morning, he barked and, realizing this was unusual, you let got up and let him out for a toilet break. Disaster averted, you went back to bed. A short while later the dog barked again. Same thing. You let him out. 

Unfortunately, while his tummy is now back to normal, his barking habit seems well established. He has his own internal alarm clock which goes off about half an hour before you want to rise, and he barks. He even does this on the weekend when you want to sleep in. This is becoming a real issue now, as it seems a lifetime since you had a decent slow start in the morning, and you're accumulating a sleep debt, which is making you grumpy. 

If only there was something you could do about his early morning barking...

Defining Tasks

Barking in the morning can be a hard habit to break. This is because it's a 'self-rewarding' behavior. In other words, the dog wakes up and barks, and a short time later Mom appears with breakfast. In the dog's mind, it's a straight join-the-dots between barking and breakfast. 

There is no magic involved in breaking this habit. Success depends on not responding to the barking and only rewarding silence. However, this pitches you against a dog's natural instincts to bark louder and for longer, when ignored. The first hurdle is to be aware this 'extinction burst' behavior is normal and to be expected, so that you can stick with the plan and see things through. 

Getting Started

This training doesn't require special equipment, so much as an awareness of the importance of timing. 

You will mainly need: 

  • A dog crate
  • A comfortable dog bed
  • A collar and leash to take the dog for toilet breaks
  • The dog's breakfast (to reward him with when he's quiet)
  • The odd treat or titbit

The Prevention Method

Most Recommended
2 Votes
Step
1
Understand the idea
Prevent is better than cure! OK, this might be too late for your dog, but read on none-the-less because it helps you understand what's going through the dog's mind, which will help with retraining. Preventing morning barking occurring in the first place, is about being careful not to accidentally reward the dog 's bark with attention or food. By only greeting the dog when he is calm and quiet, you can avoid this.
Step
2
Cause and effect
Understand what's going through your dog's mind. Modern training is based on a system of rewards: When a dog performs a desired action he is rewarded, which encourages him to repeat the activity next time. Similarly, if the dog barks in the morning and you appear with breakfast, he has just been rewarded. Effectively, giving him breakfast is rewarding the barking, and therefore he's more likely to bark tomorrow.
Step
3
Consider crate training
Crate training can be a boon to teaching more settled behavior in the morning. The crate acts as the dog's den, a safe place where he can rest without being disturbed. This also means he's less likely to see the neighbor walking to work, which could set the dog off barking. Likewise, the dog is confined while you get up and ready, which makes it easier to ignore the dog until he is quiet (and you then reward the calm behavior with attention)
Step
4
Only enter when the dog is quiet
Be it a puppy or dog, only enter the room when he is quiet. This teaches him that good behavior (rather than barking) is rewarded and makes breakfast more likely to happen.
Step
5
Ignore the dog
If the dog is barking but you have to enter to get ready for work, then it's essential to ignore the dog. He has to learn that barking earns a cold shoulder, and it's only when he's calm that he gets breakfast.
Recommend training method?

The Do's and Don'ts Method

Effective
1 Vote
Step
1
Do: Ensure the dog doesn't deed the potty
Particularly if your dog is elderly, barking in the morning could be a sign they need a comfort break. If you suspect this is the case, only go to the dog in a pause (however brief) between the volleys of barking. This way the dog gets his comfort break, but his barking isn't rewarded.
Step
2
Don't: Shout at the dog to be quiet
Dogs can be strange creatures, in that they look on attention...any sort of attention...as a form of reward. Thus, if you yell at the dog to be quiet, he may well be secretly pleased and feel validated that barking is an appropriate thing to do. It's better to bite your tongue and ignore the dog, knowing that at least this way you aren't making things worse for the next day.
Step
3
Do: Teach the 'quiet' command
Learn how to teach a dog not to bark and be quiet on cue. This involves teaching the dog to bark on command (usually easy to do!) and when he's eating his reward for barking - gently hold his muzzle and say "quiet".
Step
4
Do: Ensure the dog is settled and comfortable
If the dog wakes because of hunger or boredom, then he may decide to bark and see what happens. Simple ways to promote him sleeping through include giving a small snack about half an hour before bedtime, and then letting the dog out for a comfort break immediately before lights out. Also, be sure to give the dog plenty of exercise in the day and the evening, so that he's pleasantly tired and more likely to have a good snooze.
Step
5
Don't: Despair
When all else fails, your last resort may be a dog bed or blanket in a corner of the bedroom. Simply being in your presence and knowing that you are not yet awake, may reassure the dog that the day hasn't started yet and he's OK to continue lying in.
Recommend training method?

The Extinction Bursts Method

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1 Vote
Step
1
Understand the idea
Your dog barks in the morning and you have been advised that ignoring him is essential. Only when his barking doesn't get what he wants, will he learn to be quiet. This is all well and good in theory, except your dog hasn't read the manual. Instead of being quiet, the barking has got worse, way worse, and now you're at your wit's end. What you're experiencing is something called 'extinction burst' activity, and a necessary stage that the dog has to work through in order for him to get the message.
Step
2
What is an extinction burst?
Have you ever got into an elevator and pressed the button to close the doors but nothing happened? Did you wait patiently or press the button again? If you pressed the button, and the doors still stayed open, the chances are you beat that button with your fingertip. This is an example of extinction burst behavior. Basically, when you don't get the expected response to a behavior, you ramp up the behavior in the expectation of making the thing happen.
Step
3
Why your dog's barking has gotten worse
You have done the right thing and now ignore the dog, not letting him out of the crate despite the crazy barking. His barking has gotten worse...way worse. What's happening here is that regular barking didn't get your attention, so your dog assumes you didn't hear and ramped up the volume. When still he doesn't get attention, he decides that it must be the length of time he's expected to bark that's changed. Instead of a bark getting an immediate response, he thinks he needs to bark for 5, 10, 15, or even 30 minutes in order to get breakfast.
Step
4
Why giving in is a bad idea
OK, so the dog barks for a full 30 minutes before you snap and shout at him to be quiet and put his breakfast down. Bliss! At least he's quiet while he's eating. However, this was a bad idea. The dog now clocks up the 30 minutes of barking is required to get what he wants, which is the exact opposite of what you are aiming for.
Step
5
Only reward quiet and calm
Instead, it's essential you only reward the dog when he's quiet. Be aware that most dogs will pause from time to time, in order to listen to see if anyone has taken notice. If necessary, take advantage of this albeit brief silence to say "Good boy" and toss him a treat. Repeat this and the periods of silence will slowly grow more frequent. Similarly, only let him out of the crate when he's quiet, as a reward for this good (non-barking) behavior.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Champ
AnimalBreed object
19 Weeks
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Champ
AnimalBreed object
19 Weeks

We are having some trouble crate training our 4 month old puppy. He sleeps through the night in a separate room and rarely barks during the night now (huge improvement to a few months ago!). However, in the morning he wakes us up to tell us he has to go pee by barking. By letting him out, are we teaching him to bark? If we set an alarm for, say, 5am to let him out, are we teaching him to wake up earlier? Our goal is to get him to sleep later than he is now. Also, we are trying to crate him for a few hours during the day bc he has separation anxiety (because of COVID, my husband and I are both working from home all day). We give him some kibble and a special bone when we put him in but he will bark for over an hour nonstop. We’ve tried to build up the amount of time he’s in the crate but at least once per day he goes absolutely crazy- scratching at this bedding, whining, barking, etc. During the day, we only take him out once he’s quiet but we usually only have a 2-3 min window after he’s really riled up. Of course, we do not put him in the crate unless he’s gone to the bathroom, eaten and exercised. Are we doing anything wrong? Do we just stick with it? It’s been painful to try to get work done. Finally, how will we know when we no longer need the crate? Thank you! - Olivia

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
673 Dog owners recommended

Hello Olivia, When he barks in the morning, it sounds like he really is alerting he needs to go potty and not attention seeking barking - since you don't want pup to have an accident, let him out at that time, but wait until he is quiet at all other times when he isn't at risk of having an accident. Check out the Surprise method from the article linked below. Go ahead and skip to the part where the door is closed, but pay attention to how to use rewards when pup gets quiet for even a few seconds. It's completely normal for pup to bark a lot the first 2 weeks of crate training - since it sounds like you may have just started and pup is a bit older, up to 4 weeks of protesting at least some is normal, but by following the Surprise method, the barking length of time should gradually decrease as pup learns how to relax and settle themselves in the crate. Crating while young can actually prevent adult, more severe separation anxiety when done correctly - and it does sound like you are doing it right in general - gradually building up the time length, giving pup plenty or mental and physical exercise and attention other times of the day when not being crated, and providing something to do in the crate like the dog food stuffed chew toy. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate If the barking continues past two weeks, you can use corrections for barking in addition to rewards for quietness, but I since it's normal for it to take a couple of weeks for pup to adjust, I suggest doing the above, and just using corrections if pup doesn't adjust within that amount of time - 90% of puppies will adjust with just the above training without needing corrections, a few dogs need it though. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Chára
AnimalBreed object
3 Years
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Chára
AnimalBreed object
3 Years

We have tried for weeks, but our dog will not stop barking in the morning or when left alone in a room. She will cry and pace and howl even if she can see us through the glass. Even if I open the door and command her to wait outside the room, she will whimper and bark. I've tried feeding her later in the day, playing with her more often (unfortunately, in the past two weeks, I've been unable to walk her due to dog thieves in the neighborhood, but this barking problem has gone on for months) and every other method I could find. There's four people living here. What do I do?

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

Hello, I assume that Chara is crated somewhere in the house overnight and that is why she barks in the morning? Is there any chance she needs the bathroom? Make sure that you do not feed her or give her a lot of water for at least 2 hours before bed. Take her out for a pee last thing before you go to bed at night. She definitely needs her walks - if the neighborhood is not safe in that regard, hop in the car and take her to a fenced in dog park so she can run off steam there. The Comfort Crate Method here may help: https://wagwalking.com/training/stop-separation-anxiety. Many dogs love a crate because they feel safer in a den-like setting. There are great tips for helping a dog like their crate here: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate. Good luck!

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Lily
AnimalBreed object
7 Months
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Lily
AnimalBreed object
7 Months

We got Lily from my stepsister because she couldn't handle or train her due to her energy. we are having issues with barking when on walks and barking while in the kennel at night. My stepsister said she was kennel trained but we have had Lily for a few weeks now and it's been difficult trying to get her to go in on her own and stay quiet.

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

Hello! The barking while on walks is a form of energy release. She is excited as well as probably a little frustrated because she wants to run and explore everything. This excitement/frustrated barking will likely resolve itself as she ages and matures. But not doing anything runs the risk of her developing a habit that will follow her into adulthood. So for the time being, you can start implementing the use of commands while out walking. And giving her some exercise BEFORE walking. Which I know seems counterintuitive since walking is exercise. But until she stops barking so much, walking has now become a time for training. Plan your walks a little ahead of time. Before you take her out on a walk, spend some time playing fetch with her, or running around with her. You can also run through some training commands she already knows. This will help re-engage her brain a bit. One tool that may help with this training is a head halter. It looks somewhat like a combination collar/muzzle, but it allows the dog to breath and drink. (It is NOT a muzzle and isn't used for discipline). Used with supervision (never leave it on the dog when he is alone), it may have a controlling and calming effect on your walks and at home, reducing the likelihood of barking. A head halter does not replace training, rewards and praise, but is a tool to help you in your counter-bark training. They usually go by the name brand, Gentle Leader. They are available online and in any pet store. Start your walk off as calm as you can. If she begins barking, have her stop and sit for you. Then you can continue on your walk. Take some treats with you, and use treats to keep your attention on you, and to reward her for calm, quiet behavior. This won't be forever. You will start to see results within a few weeks of consistent practice. Then you can slowly start to phase out the treats as her behavior improves. Crate training. When dogs have issues with crate training, it is best to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. Some of this information is going to be a little remedial, and you may know some of it, but starting over with crate training will be the best route to go. Step 1: Introduce your dog to the crate Place the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Take the door off and let the dog explore the crate at their leisure. Some dogs will be naturally curious and start sleeping in the crate right away. If yours isn't one of them: Bring them over to the crate and talk to them in a happy tone of voice. Make sure the crate door is open and secured so that it won't hit your dog and frighten them. Encourage your dog to enter the crate by dropping some small food treats nearby, then just inside the door, and finally, all the way inside the crate. If they refuse to go all the way in at first, that's OK; don't force them to enter. Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If they aren’t interested in treats, try tossing a favorite toy in the crate. This step may take a few minutes or as long as several days. Step 2: Feed your dog meals in the crate After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding them their regular meals near the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate. If your dog is readily entering the crate when you begin Step 2, place the food dish all the way at the back of the crate. If they remain reluctant to enter, put the dish only as far inside as they will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious. Each time you feed them, place the dish a little further back in the crate. Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate to eat their meal, you can close the door while they’re eating. The first time you do this, open the door as soon as they finish their meal. With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until they’re staying in the crate for 10 minutes or so after eating. If they begin to whine to be let out, you may have increased the length of time too quickly. Next time, try leaving them in the crate for a shorter time period. If they do whine or cry in the crate, don’t let them out until they stop. Otherwise, they'll learn that the way to get out of the crate is to whine, so they'll keep doing it. Step 3: Practice with longer crating periods After your dog is eating their regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine them there for short time periods while you're home. Call them over to the crate and give them a treat. Give them a command to enter, such as "crate." Encourage them by pointing to the inside of the crate with a treat in your hand. After your dog enters the crate, praise them, give them the treat and close the door. Sit quietly near the crate for five to 10 minutes and then go into another room for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly again for a short time and then let them out. Repeat this process several times a day, gradually increasing the length of time you leave them in the crate and the length of time you're out of sight. Once your dog will stay quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes with you mostly out of sight, you can begin leaving them crated when you're gone for short time periods and/or letting them sleep there at night. This may take several days or weeks. Step 4, Part A: Crate your dog when you leave After your dog can spend about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving them crated for short periods when you leave the house. Put them in the crate using your regular command and a treat. You might also want to leave them with a few safe toys in the crate. Vary the moment during your "getting ready to leave" routine that you put your dog in the crate. Although they shouldn't be crated for a long time before you leave, you can crate them anywhere from five to 20 minutes prior to leaving. Don't make your departures emotional and prolonged—they should be matter-of-fact. Praise your dog briefly, give them a treat for entering the crate and then leave quietly. When you return home, don't reward your dog for excited behavior by responding to them in an enthusiastic way. Keep arrivals low-key to avoid increasing their anxiety over when you will return. Continue to crate your dog for short periods from time to time when you're home so they don't associate crating with being left alone. Step 4, Part B: Crate your dog at night Put your dog in the crate using your regular command and a treat. Initially, it may be a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or nearby in a hallway, especially if you have a puppy. Puppies often need to go outside to eliminate during the night and you'll want to be able to hear your puppy when they whine to be let outside. Older dogs should also initially be kept nearby so they don't associate the crate with social isolation. Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with the crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer, although time spent with your dog—even sleep time—is a chance to strengthen the bond between you and your pet. Potential problems Whining: If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether they’re whining to be let out of the crate, or whether they need to be let outside to eliminate. If you've followed the training procedures outlined above, then your dog hasn't been rewarded for whining in the past by being released from their crate. If that is the case, try to ignore the whining. If your dog is just testing you, they'll probably stop whining soon. Yelling at them or pounding on the crate will only make things worse. If the whining continues after you've ignored them for several minutes, use the phrase they associate with going outside to eliminate. If they respond and become excited, take them outside. This should be a trip with a purpose, not play time. If you're convinced that your dog doesn't need to eliminate, the best response is to ignore them until they stop whining. Don't give in; if you do, you'll teach your dog to whine loud and long to get what they want. If you've progressed gradually through the training steps and haven't done too much too fast, you'll be less likely to encounter this problem. If the problem becomes unmanageable, you may need to start the crate training process over again. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thanks for writing in.

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Teddi
AnimalBreed object
4 Months
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Teddi
AnimalBreed object
4 Months

Teddi barks at night and in the morning. The morning being the bigger issue because it can go on for hours. Ignoring doesn't work. As soon as I take her out and let her come on the couch with me she is silent and goes back to sleep.

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

Hello, I assume that Teddi is waking at an early hour that is unacceptable to you. When she wakes, take her outside for a pee break, no talking, no interaction, a quick pee and then back to bed. You may have to let her bark at that point. Other things to consider are the time that she is going to bed at night. Keeping her up as late as you can in the evenings may help, with a long walk in the evening to tire her out. Try white noise near her cage for the overnight hours, such as a fan (not pointed at her).Dog appeasing pheromones are another idea. These are natural and emitted via a diffuser. Check at the pet supply store for them. As well, look at the Varying Day Method as described here: https://wagwalking.com/training/sleep-later. Try setting an alarm clock for the time when Teddi normally awakes (starting with the early hour she is waking now). Set the alarm for a week at this time, getting her up then. The following week, set the alarm 15 minutes later. Stay at that time for a week (getting her up then) and then set the alarm 15 minutes later for the next week. Keep this up until you reach the desired time you want to get up. Hopefully, she will be trained to the sound of the alarm by then. Good luck!

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Shiloh
AnimalBreed object
8 Years
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Shiloh
AnimalBreed object
8 Years

Hi. So my family and I have a Golden Labrador. He is a really sweet boy. His age seems he getting old. He has vision problems and not able to see because when we call him he looks at a different direction and can’t really hear us sometimes. We have to yell loud in order for him to hear us. But he still acts like a pup loves to play outside and a take a bath on the grass. So my main concern is we put him in the garage during the summer since it’s really hot. Every morning 4:45am I’m sleeping in my bed and I hear him barking and whining, scratching the door nonstop. I get up walk him. Sometimes he doesn’t have to go but sometimes he does. Once we get back from the walk. I Make sure he has water. Then I head back inside and leave him in the garage. He then starts whining and barking, scratching the door. So I get frustrated because I wanna go back to bed. I bring him inside. Because he is always wagging his tail wanting to go inside. I bring him inside and he stops. What is the reason??

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