How to Train Your Dog to Not Bark When Playing

How to Train Your Dog to Not Bark When Playing
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon1-6 Months
Behavior training category iconBehavior

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. 

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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.

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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. 

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The Quiet Method

Most Recommended

2 Votes

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Most Recommended

2 Votes

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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.

2

Mark the bark

To begin, try to get your dog to bark. When he does, say "yes" and give him a treat.

3

Introduce the "bark" command

When he begins to understand what you want, say "bark" after he barks and give him a treat.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Stop Play Method

Effective

1 Vote

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Effective

1 Vote

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1

Begin playing with your dog

Start off your training session like any normal play and wait for him to start barking.

2

Stop playing when he barks

As soon as he starts to bark, stop playing.

3

Turn your back on him

Turn your back to face away from him to make sure his barks are not rewarded.

4

Wait three seconds

When he stops barking, wait three seconds and then turn around.

5

Start playing again

Pick up right where you left off until he barks again.

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.

The Last One Method

Least Recommended

1 Vote

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Least Recommended

1 Vote

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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.

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.

3

Stop playing

Stop playing with your dog and pack up.

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.

5

Be consistent

When you've said "last one" to your dog, do not throw the ball or stick again when he barks.

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.

Written by Katie Smith

Veterinary reviewed by:

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

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Brea

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Australian Shepherd

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Seven Years

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Question

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Hi There, Just wondering if you have any advice. My dog is so so excitable, she will bark before play is iniated, whilst running to get the ball, and as soon as she's dropped it and the cycle repeats. Before I throw the ball I use the quiet command which she is good at obeying if only briefly (she sits and waits for me to throw the ball after I've allowed 5 secs of quiet) but as soon as I throw it she barks and barks whilst running to get the ball. She barks when you get home and every time she's let outside (she's territorial of the garden). I love her but I really wish she had a mute button.

Oct. 2, 2023

Brea's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, Unfortunately there isn't one straightforward answer I can give you to address this. Because the barking is tied to her getting aroused - either excited or territorial and defensive, the main goal is teaching a dog self-control with arousal and building in calmness as a habit, in addition to sometimes using an interrupter for the barking, and proactively teaching and rewarding quietness throughout her day. She likely isn't a dog who can learn to never bark. I think its related to who she is and some of the herding traits and over-arousal that can come with certain lines of herding breeds - the same trait that helps a dog be fast and enthusiastic at something like flyball. However, with the right trainer who is good with problem solving and reading a dog's body language, you should be able to get the barking more manageable and less constant. Because the training will be largely based on reading her body language and emotional state, you need someone there in person. You can spend time learning about desensitization, counter-conditioning, and calming exercises. You might find that once you learn those things you are more naturally able to implement them on your own, since you have already starting teaching and using quiet to condition that. She needs to practice getting slightly excited while staying quiet, and building upon that by learning how to stay quiet when you slowly get her more and more excited as she improves at her self-control skills. A modified version of the training exercise called "Jazz up Settle Down" also known as "red light, green light" with the criteria to not bark in order to get a treat, could be one example of a self-control building exercise for her. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Oct. 10, 2023

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Vale

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Labradane

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Eight Months

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Question

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we have 2 dogs, Vale as detailed above and Luca a 10-month-old Maremma sheep dog cross. They love playing with each other but when they do (especially when playing / arguing over a toy) they start barking at each other (generally the one without the toy does the barking). Which method can we use to decrease / stop the barking during these games with each other?

Aug. 22, 2023

Vale's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I would combine some of the principles from the article but modify them for another dog. In your case, first teach the Quiet command - check out the Quiet method from the article I have linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Second, I would teach Out, and let the dogs play on long drag leashes, give them the out command if they bark, then using the leash to reel them in if they don't come, call them to yourself to interrupt the barking. Let them go back to playing once they are calm after they have obeyed a couple of commands like Sit and Down away from each other for you. Practice calling them apart and giving treats if they come to you and disengage with each other, coming to two different people, one for each dog when first teaching this - without waiting for the barking to start. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Aug. 25, 2023


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