Wag! for Pet Parents

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews

Install

pet-parent-illustration

Pet Parent

Find Pet Caregivers on Wag!

Sign up

Already have an account?

Sign in

pet-parent-illustration

Pet Caregiver

Find pet care jobs on Wag!

Approved Caregiver?

Get the app
  • Home
  • Training
  • How to Train Your Dog to Not Bark in the Morning

How to Train Your Dog to Not Bark in the Morning

How to Train Your Dog to Not Bark in the Morning
Hard difficulty iconHard
Time icon2-6 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

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...

arrow-up-icon

Top

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. 

arrow-up-icon

Top

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

arrow-up-icon

Top

The Prevention Method

Most Recommended

2 Votes

Ribbon icon

Most Recommended

2 Votes

Ribbon icon
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.

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.

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)

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.

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.

The Extinction Bursts Method

Effective

2 Votes

Ribbon icon

Effective

2 Votes

Ribbon icon
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Do's and Don'ts Method

Least Recommended

1 Vote

Ribbon icon

Least Recommended

1 Vote

Ribbon icon
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.

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.

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".

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.

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.

Written by Pippa Elliott

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 01/22/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

Have a question?

Training Questions and Answers

Dog nametag icon

Jovie

Dog breed icon

Weimaraner

Dog age icon

Four Months

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

0 found this helpful

Thumbs up icon

0 found this helpful

Crate training was going really well initially--after the first few days of barking at night, our now 4-month-old puppy stayed quiet for several weeks until I got up at 6am each morning to let her out and feed her breakfast. Suddenly, in the past week she has begun barking at around 5:15am like clockwork. I don't let her out of her crate until she's been quiet for at least 5 minutes, but the barking at 5:15-5:30am seems to be tending towards habitual. I walk her twice a day and she plays with my kids in the afternoon/evening, so she is getting a good amount of exercise. Not sure what to do...

Jan. 30, 2024

Jovie's Owner

Dog nametag icon

Louie

Dog breed icon

Shih Tzu

Dog age icon

One Year

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

0 found this helpful

Thumbs up icon

0 found this helpful

I have a 1 year old Shih Tzu who used to do well in his crate but we have been letting him sleep with us the past few months. I love him so much but I don't like him in the bed because he's on my legs or sitting on me and I get anxious about how he's doing. He loves his crate and does fine during the day, when I need to put him away during a meeting etc. He is back in his crate at night and starts barking in the early morning and doesn't stop until we are up. He rarely asks to go to outside when he sleeps with us so I think he's complaining and I ignore it but I obviously want him to stop.

Jan. 18, 2024

Louie's Owner


Wag! Specialist
Need training help?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews

Install


© 2024 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.