How to Train Your Dog to Not Bark When Playing

Medium
1-6 Months
Behavior

Introduction

Playing with your dog is one of the most fun moments of his day. He gets to release some of his energy, spend time with his favorite person, and play games that he loves. Sometimes your dog might get over-excited and start barking. While this is most likely because he's having fun, it can be annoying or even considered a nuisance by neighbors. While this barking behavior may be more likely displayed by certain dog breeds like Border Collies or Australian shepherds, it can happen with any dog that gets a little too excited about ball throwing or playing.

It is possible to teach your dog not to bark when playing, but it may take a few steps to make sure he understands that loud noises are not part of playing the game with you. With some patience and good training skills, you can help him learn that barking won't get him what he wants. This is a useful skill that will work just as well in a crowded park as it will in your home. 

Defining Tasks

Barking is a natural behavior and your dog won't understand that it's undesirable for you at first. However, being able to signal your dog to stop barking is important to keeping neighbors, landlords, and other folks at the dog park happy and excited about your dog. Repeated loud barking is a sure way to get on someone's bad side, and it makes playing less fun for you. Some dogs will pick up on this skill faster than others. Herding dogs may have an especially difficult time learning not to bark because they have been bred to use their "voice" to communicate. With extra patience and consistency, they can pick up on the commands and learn to stop barking when you play. With this skill, you can make staying quite a fun part of playtime or even a signal that the game is over.

Getting Started

You won't need very much to get started, and you can begin anywhere you usually play with your dog. Changing a behavior that comes naturally will be difficult at first, so a large dose of patience will be most important. Consistency throughout your training is key. Here are a few props to have on hand when you begin the training. 

  • His favorite throw toy, ball or a stick.
  • Dog treats you can reward him with.
  • A pouch to keep treats available and your hands-free.

Teaching your dog not to bark while playing will be well worth the time it takes to get him to stop. Each dog is different, so read through the three methods below to find the best option for your dog. Pretty soon play time will go back to being fun and engaging for both of you. 

The Quiet Method

ribbon-method-1
Most Recommended
2 Votes
Step
1
Teach your dog to bark
This may sound counter-intuitive, but teaching your dog to bark on command will help teach him to stop on command.
Step
2
Mark the bark
To begin, try to get your dog to bark. When he does, say "yes" and give him a treat.
Step
3
Introduce the "bark" command
When he begins to understand what you want, say "bark" after he barks and give him a treat.
Step
4
Test the command
Soon he should be able to bark when you say the word. Test him by asking him to bark and decreasing the number of times you treat him.
Step
5
Wait it out
Don't treat your dog when he barks before you give him the command. If he barks when you aren't asking him, ignore the bark. When he's quiet, say "bark" and give him a treat after he barks. This way he learns that he only gets treats when you ask for the bark.
Step
6
Introduce the 'quiet' command
Once he can bark on command, introduce him to 'quiet.' Ask him to bark and when he does, hold out a treat in your closed fist. As soon as he stops barking to smell, say "quiet" and then open your fist and give him the treat.
Step
7
Practice
Practice asking him to 'bark' and then to be 'quiet' until he starts to understand that when he stops barking he gets the treat. Practice this in different parts of the house, in the park, and in many other situations.
Step
8
Introduce during play
Once he's comfortable, introduce 'quiet' during playtime. When he starts to bark, stop playing and say "quiet." Give him a treat when he does. Soon he should stop barking when you give the command, even when he's excited about playing with you.
Recommend training method?

The Stop Play Method

ribbon-method-2
Effective
1 Vote
Step
1
Begin playing with your dog
Start off your training session like any normal play and wait for him to start barking.
Step
2
Stop playing when he barks
As soon as he starts to bark, stop playing.
Step
3
Turn your back on him
Turn your back to face away from him to make sure his barks are not rewarded.
Step
4
Wait three seconds
When he stops barking, wait three seconds and then turn around.
Step
5
Start playing again
Pick up right where you left off until he barks again.
Step
6
Repeat
Repeat this process each time he barks when you play, no matter what. With consistency, he will learn that barking is no fun and he should stop.
Recommend training method?

The Last One Method

ribbon-method-3
Least Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
Begin play as normal
This works for dogs who demand you continue playing by barking at you. Begin playing with your dog like normal.
Step
2
Tell him "last one"
When you are ready to be done, say "last one" right as you throw the ball or stick for the last time.
Step
3
Stop playing
Stop playing with your dog and pack up.
Step
4
Ignore any barking
When he starts to bark to get you to play again, ignore him. You can turn your back or begin walking away.
Step
5
Be consistent
When you've said "last one" to your dog, do not throw the ball or stick again when he barks.
Step
6
Make it a habit
When you make this command part of your routine, your dog will eventually learn that "last one" means playtime is over, and he will stop barking. It could take a week or a few months depending on the dog, but once it's a habit for both of you, barking should not be an issue.
Recommend training method?
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Written by Katie Smith

Published: 01/19/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Bonnie
Border Terrier
17 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Bonnie
Border Terrier
17 Months

Bonnie barks when playing with other dogs and in friendly chasing other dogs. Is there a way to stop her
Doing this? Thanks

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1126 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lisa, I recommend teaching an Out command and Come command and Quiet command. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Come: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-to-come-when-called/ Once pup has learned those commands, practice them often using a long training leash, 15'-30' long and a padded back clip harness. Gradually work up to more and more distracting locations. You can even practice pup's recall at places where the are other dogs that can't get to your dog, like regular parks or outside a dog park (don't go inside the dog park area though since having pup on leash in there isn't safe and could lead to fights). Once pup is really good at Come and Out and Quiet on the long leash, recruit a friend and their friendly dog. Have the dogs play in a controlled, fenced area without other dogs around, while they are wearing a back clip harness and drag leash. Periodically call the dogs away from each other when they are not entangled wrestling if pup barks. Have each other call their dog from different areas of the yard so the dogs go in different directions when they disengage. Use the drag leash to carefully and quickly reel pups in to each of you if they don't obey when you call. Once your dog gets to you (because they obeyed or because you reeled them in with the leash), have pup obey a couple commands like Sit or Down, and give high value treats - this is why the dogs are being called to separate locations, you don't want competing for the same food while aroused from playing). After both dogs are focused on their people and calm from the obedience practice, allow the more timid of the two dogs to go first, telling them "Go Play" and releasing them. If they still want to play, let the second dog go also, telling them to "Go Play" as well. Practice this for 10-30 minutes a training session, often, until your dog will obey Out and Come and Quiet consistently while in the middle of playing without having to be reeled in. While doing all of this, I would avoid going to the dog park where pup could ignore your command and that would undermined your training efforts. Once pup is very good at obeying while aroused, then you can use the new commands in real life to help pup manage their behavior at the park. You may also find you need to teach pup that a remote vibration collar being vibrated means quiet and use that as a reminder as needed. Specifically watch for when pup is getting overly aroused - most dogs bark primarily when aroused. The barking isn't something that's likely to be eradicated completely. It's normal for many dogs to bark while playing - some dogs are just more talkative if it's all in good fun and not due to aggression; however, you can teach pup to respond to your Quiet command, bark less overall, and take a break when they are getting too excited to control their barking. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Sancho
Boxer
2 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Sancho
Boxer
2 Months

How do I know the training goals I should achieve within each stage of growth? That is, he’s very small but I think he mostly already sits on command. He does not recognize his name so it’s hard to teach him to come, for example. When should he be “fully” trained on the basic comands (sit, lay down, quiet, stay) and also potty trained. Thank you

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

Hello! It can take up to 6 months to have a fully trained dog. But even then, it can take until your dog is a year old for them to be consistent. I usually tell my personal customers to start with the basics. Teach 1-2 new commands a week, while reinforcing the old or learned commands. Spend 15 or so minutes in two different blocks of time, going over these commands. So maybe once in the morning, and once again in the evening for example. And also use their commands in real life settings. Sitting before eating and randomly while out on walks, things like that. Dogs will typically be very good with sit, lay down, leave it and come within a few weeks of practicing it. But getting them to be consistent with those behaviors in a distracted environment is trickier. Dogs often plateau and even regress during the training process. It all has to do with their cognitive development. As long as you stay consistent, you should be just fine.

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Question
Mel
fox terrier/poodle
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Mel
fox terrier/poodle
3 Years

Barks when around other dogs when playing with the ball and throwing the ball? Liked to run after dogs and slight touch/ nip on the back

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1126 Dog owners recommended

Hello Natasha, For the barking I would start by teaching pup the Quiet command to make communicating with pup easier. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark I would then use something like a bark collar or low level remote collar stimulation to enforce the Quiet command. Start by making the fetching game boring, with short throws in a calm location. Reward pup for Quietness with more throws or treats, and calm praise. When pup barks, tell pup "Ah Ah" calmly, and either correct with the collar, the bark collar will correct on it's own, or withhold the ball until pup calms down. Practice a couple of commands with pup to get them focused and calmer again, keeping your attitude patient and calm while doing so. Once pup is calm, resume the game, praising calmly for quietness, reminding pup "Quiet" as needed, rewarding continued quietness, and correcting the barking. Start all of this in a very calm setting, with less exciting throws, and no other dogs around. Pup will need to work up to more exciting situations very gradually. Keep these ball sessions short because pup will have a harder time learning and obeying the more tired they get and the more aroused they get most likely. For the nipping, I recommend teaching an Out command, Leave It command, and Come command. Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Come: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-to-come-when-called/ Once pup has learned those commands, practice them often using a long training leash, 15'-30' long and a padded back clip harness. Gradually work up to more and more distracting locations. You can even practice pup's recall at places where the are other dogs that can't get to your dog, like regular parks or outside a dog park (don't go inside the dog park area though since having pup on leash in there isn't safe and could lead to fights). Once pup is really good at Come and Out on the long leash, recruit a friend and their friendly dog. Have the dogs play in a controlled, fenced area without other dogs around, while they are each wearing a back clip harness and drag leash. Periodically call the dogs away from each other when they are not entangled wrestling. Have each other call their dog from different areas of the yard so the dogs go in different directions when they disengage. Use the drag leash to carefully and quickly reel pups in to each of you if they don't obey when you call. Once your dog gets to you (because they obeyed or because you reeled them in with the leash), have pup obey a couple commands like Sit or Down, and gives high value treats - this is why the dogs are being called to separate locations, you don't want competing for the same food while aroused from playing). After both dogs are focused on their people and calm from the obedience practice, allow the more timid of the two dogs to go first, tell them "Go Play" and releasing them. If they still want to play, let the second dog go also, telling the to "Go Play" as well. Practice this for 10-30 minutes a training session, often, until your dog will obey Out and Come consistently while in the middle of playing without having to be reeled in. While doing all of this, I would avoid going to the dog park where pup could ignore your command and that would undermined your training efforts. Once pup is very good at obeying while aroused, then you can use the new commands in real life to help pup manage their behavior at the park. Learn how to read the body language of other dogs if you do not already, so you can easily spot when the dogs are getting too aroused or one dog wants to stop and isn't being allowed to, and you can intervene before things get tense, moving your dog to another part of the park and letting them calm back down again, before playing with a new dog while that one rests. Be aware that some dogs need the play to end for the day when they get to that point because their ability to control themselves will decrease the more tired they get, even though they seem to be getting wound up instead of tired. For those dogs, it's best to end the play for that part of the day, and if you find they still need exercise, use some structured obedience practice to wear them out mentally too, which can also get their minds back into a calm state before going home. Do obedience practice outside of the dog park fence, not inside the dog park though, for safety reasons. For dogs who have a really hard time with such behavior, you may also need to find a different social activity that's less arousing for pup, like heeling walks and hikes with others and their dogs on leash, classes, canine sports, or swimming. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Skye
Labradoodle
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Skye
Labradoodle
3 Years

She barks when playing with other dogs that a lot of the times the other dog gets scared

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1126 Dog owners recommended

Hello Alana, I recommend teaching Out and Quiet first. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ With pup on a long training leash clipped to a padded back clip harness, I would recruit a friend with another friendly dog who plays well with your own, and practice letting them play, and Out and Quiet during the game. Have the dogs play for a minute, then when they are not interlocked, gentle pick up the end of each dogs dragging long leash, once you have the leashes tell the dogs Out! happily, and quickly reel them into you, having both go to their own owner separate directions from each other. Once they arrive, give a treat, practice a few commands, then once they are calm, tell them "Go Play" and let them play again. Once both dogs have the hang of coming toward you quickly when you say out, before having to be reeled in, whenever pup barks give a Quiet command, and follow it up with an out command and reeling in if pup doesn't obey. Practice Quiet often in real life once pup has learned it at the door. Keep training treats on you for when pup obeys Quiet, and for when pup chooses not to bark at something they normally would have - rewarding pup's display of quietness and self-control to help pup build that quietness into a habit in general. When you practice this training make sure the other dog gets along very well with your dog and the two aren't likely to fight, make sure the area is fenced but not so large the dogs can take off and their leashes snag on something (although that's why the padded back clip harnesses are important, to protect pups' necks better), and wait until the dogs don't have each other's mouths on one another before you call and reel in (timing will be important because if they like the wrestle you will get only seconds of them being disengaged from that). Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Snúlli
Border Collie/Icelandic sheepdog
4 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Snúlli
Border Collie/Icelandic sheepdog
4 Years

How do I stop my dog from barking at people and dogs while walking?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1126 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kathleen, For the barking, check out the Quiet method and the Desensitize method I have linked and the video series on barking below. Quiet method and Desensitize method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Barking videos: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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