How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking

How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon2-8 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

There's nothing guaranteed to annoy the neighbors more than a constantly barking dog. And they're not alone – after all, you and your family have to deal with the constant sudden outbursts of noise, too. A dog that barks at the drop of the hat is a noisy nuisance. Whether it's yapping or deep, throaty woofs, a dog that doesn't know how to be quiet could get you in trouble with the landlord if you are a renter, or simply destroy the peace of your home.

When your pup begins a tulmultuous tirade of barking, the chances are you shout at the dog to be quiet. Unfortunately, this is the wrong thing to do. Your attention accidentally rewards the noise, and your furry companion may even interpret your shouts as an inept attempt at barking...with the result they get more excited and the noise level rises.

How to stop your dog from barking? Let's learn how to teach the sound of silence.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Defining Tasks

How do you teach a dog to 'not do' something, especially when giving them attention risks rewarding the undesirable action? Simple! You ignore the bad behavior and praise the good. OK, so it's not that simple, but the idea is to reward 'silence' rather than barking. To stop barking, teach the "Quiet" command. The aim is to have your best buddy understand the word "Quiet" and realize that they are rewarded when silent.

Be aware that barking can be triggered for a whole variety of reasons, from boredom to protecting territory. Your dog may feel they are not getting the attention they want or may like to bark excessively as a way of saying hello. As well as teaching the "Quiet" command, be sure to address underlying issues by providing plenty of exercise and mental stimulation for your dog. A content dog is a happy one, leading to more rest and less need to jump at every sound. Remember, some breeds are more prone to barking than others as well.

How quickly your dog learns the command, depends on how quick they are to learn, how consistently you apply the rules, and how ingrained their barking habit is. Truly, this is a case of prevention is better than cure, and for puppies, it's great to follow the method of not rewarding barking so they don't develop a barking habit in the first instance.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Getting Started

You will need:

  • Super scrumptious, utterly irresistible treats
  • Patience

It's also helpful to minimize the opportunities for your dog to bark while you are re-educating them. This can be as simple as blocking the view from a particular window, so they can't see people in the street, or putting your dog in a back room when visitors call at the front door.

Above all, be prepared to be patient. Barking is a rewarding activity in itself, so it's going to take a while to break the habit. And also know that training will go so much better if all family members know and apply the same rules.

arrow-up-icon

Top

The "Quiet" Command Method

Most Recommended

4 Votes

Ribbon icon

Most Recommended

4 Votes

Ribbon icon
"Quiet" Command method for How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking
1

Put barking on cue

Yes, that's right. Get your dog to bark. You might do this by knocking on a wall so they make an experimental 'Woof'.

2

Label this as "Bark"

At the same time they woof, say the command "Bark" and praise them with a pleasing voice.

3

Now label the silence as "Quiet"

You knocked on a wall or the floor and the dog barked, then looked at you like you're crazy. Take advantage of that puzzled silence and say "Quiet", then toss them a treat. This shows them the opposite of bark is quiet, and the action gets rewarded.

4

Practice, practice, practice!

Don't try to interrupt a full stream bark until your buddy has the hang of "Quiet" in a controlled situation. Keep practicing every day – ideally go for two to three sessions a day.

The Stop Rewarding Method

Effective

2 Votes

Ribbon icon

Effective

2 Votes

Ribbon icon
Stop Rewarding method for How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking
1

Analyze how you react when your pup barks

Do you give a treat in order to distract the dog from the door when visitors call? STOP! That treat says to your dog, "Well done for barking, here is your reward." Do you shout at your pup? STOP. In dog language, you're making a poor attempt at joining in.

2

Anticipate and avoid

Know what's likely to set your dog off and avoid those situations. For example, if they bark at the street from the living room window, then put a frosted adhesive covering over the lower glass to block their view or keep the curtains pulled when you are out.

3

Act appropriately

If the dog barks, then either ignore them completely (hence removing your attention) or without speaking, put their leash on, lead them to another room and leave them alone. The message being that when they bark, they end up on their own.

4

Train ahead

Teach your companion a command which requires them to take an action other than barking. This could be fetching a ball (Clever, this one, as their mouth is now full) or to go and lie on their mat.

The Displacement Activity Method

Least Recommended

2 Votes

Ribbon icon

Least Recommended

2 Votes

Ribbon icon
Displacement Activity method for How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking
1

Choose a spot

Start by training in a quiet room. Place a mat in a spot away from the window or door where the barking happens.

2

Introduce the command

Throw a treat onto the mat and tell your dog "Go to your mat". Praise them when they go to snaffle up the treat.

3

Teach "stay"

Have them stay on the mat by teaching the "Stay" command. Be consistent and patient.

4

Increase difficulty

Now add in a level of distraction, such as having them in a different room to the mat, then telling them to go there.

5

Add barking

Once they are reliably carrying out this action, trigger a low level of barking and then command them to go to the mat. You can then reward their good behavior and diffuse the barking situation.

By James Barra

Published: 09/20/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

Have a question?

Training Questions and Answers

Dog nametag icon

Charlie

Dog breed icon

Cavapoo

Dog age icon

One Year

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

Hi, we recently adopted 19month old Cavapoo Charlie. When we take him out for a walk with our Labrador Milly, he will start barking randomly and when he sees another dog. He used to do this on walks when he was by himself, however we’ve trained him and he’s gotten a lot better. We’ve tried the same training when we are out with both dogs, and it has improved slightly, but not as much. Do you have any advice on how we can train him? Thanks.

Dec. 6, 2022

Charlie's Owner

Expert avatar

Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

Recommendation ribbon

1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, There are a few reasons for a dog barking at other dogs on a walk. Pup may be nervous and fearful, in which case the underlying lack of confidence and fearful association with other dogs also needs to be addressed. This is generally done using counter conditioning. Check out the video I have linked below for how to do that. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JY7JrteQBOQ Another reason for the barking is pup becoming overly aroused, which is generally addressed with structured obedience to help pup learn self-control and to condition a calmer response, and respect building for you. Check out the following resources for commands and structure to work on with pup. Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Reactive dog - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XY8s_MlqDNE Severely aggressive dog – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfiDe0GNnLQ&t=259s A third reason why pup may be barking would simply be that pup find the act of barking itself fun. Barking is a self-rewarding behavior due the chemicals released in a dog's brain while they bark, that can make the dog feel a certain way and feed into even more barking. When pup is barking for the fun of barking and getting aroused, I recommend interrupting the barking, while rewarding quiet instead. First, you need a way to communicate with him so I suggest teaching the Quiet command from the Quiet method in the article I have linked below - don't expect this alone to work but it will be part of the puzzle for what I will suggest next. Regardless of which reason pup is barking, I would actually teach pup Quiet in general, simply to increase the communication between you and pup. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Next, once pup understands what Quiet means you will choose an interrupter - neither too harsh nor ineffective. A Pet Convincer is one example of an interrupter. A pet convincer is a small canister of pressurized, unscented air that you can spray a quick puff of at the dog's side to surprise them enough to help them calm back down. (Don't use citronella and avoid spraying in the face!). In situations where you know pup will bark or is already barking (catch them before they bark if you can), command "Quiet". If they obey, reward with a treat and very calm praise. If they bark anyway or continue to bark, say "Ah Ah" firmly but calmly and give a brief correction. Repeat the correction each time they bark until you get a brief pause in the barking. When they pause, praise and reward then. The combination of communication, correction, and rewarding - with the "Ah Ah" and praise to mark their good and bad behavior with the right timing, is very important. Once pup is calmer in general after the initial training, practice exposing him a lot to the things that trigger the barking normally (make a list - even if it's long). Whenever he DOESN'T bark around something that he normally would have, calmly praise and reward him to continue the desensitization process. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Dec. 6, 2022

Dog nametag icon

Blanquito

Dog breed icon

Great Pyrenees

Dog age icon

Six Years

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

My dog has a habit of barking and howling at night which I understand is a characteristic of his breed. The problem is that he is overly sensitive and will howl and bark at every little noise. I do want him to be vocal but only when necessary as he has scared off two people who were lurking at night.

Oct. 14, 2022

Blanquito's Owner

Expert avatar

Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

Recommendation ribbon

1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I would start by teaching him the Quiet command. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Next, I would purchase a remote training collar, with tone, vibration, and stimulation. The stimulation should have at least 60 levels so you can use the lowest level pup indicates they feel, called a working level. I would practice Quiet, making the collar tone (beep) each time you say Quiet, and rewarding pup for getting quiet, then correcting at the lowest level stimulation or vibration they feel (some dogs dislike vibration more than stimulation, and others ignore vibration, so vibration might work well for you but stimulation could be gentler actually. Vibration is good for interrupting though, like interrupting barking). Practice teaching pup that the tone means Quiet, and they will be rewarded if they get quiet and corrected with either vibration or stimulation if they don't stop the barking when told by the tone. You are setting pup up to learn how to respond to the collar with you there to give feedback, so that pup can later wear the collar at night when you aren't there, and you can remind them to stop barking and correct if they don't while inside your home. Make sure your collar also has a far enough range. Many high quality collars will handle up to half a mile if you buy the correct one for your purpose. Second, I would also spend time with pup outside in the yard at night before you go to bed, but after it's dark, work on telling pup quiet when you hear something they may bark at but that you don't want them to alert to. When they either get quiet, don't bark at it at all, or stay quiet after being told to be quiet - reward any of those responses, to help desensitize pup to noises you don't want them to worry about. If you hear a bigger noise that could be a person, like a deer in the woods, don't correct barking then, let pup respond how they normally would to something large enough to be a concern to you. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Oct. 17, 2022


Wag! Specialist
Need training help?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews

Install


© 2023 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.