How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking

Medium
2-8 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Talk about 'Barking mad'!

There's nothing guaranteed to annoy the neighbors than a constantly barking dog. And they're not alone. 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 or simply destroy the peace.

What do you do when the dog starts 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 he may even interpret your shouts as an inept attempt at barking...with the result he gets more excited and the noise level rises.

So what to do about barking? Let's learn how to teach the sound of silence.

Defining Tasks

How do you teach a dog to 'not do' something, especially when giving him 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 the dog understand the word "Quiet" means he is rewarded when silent.

Be aware that barking can be triggered for a whole variety of reasons, from boredom to protecting territory. As well as teaching the "Quiet" command, be sure to address underlying issues by providing plenty of exercise and mental stimulation for the dog.

How quickly the dog learns the command, depends on how quick he is to learn, how consistently you apply the rules, and how ingrained his 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.

Getting Started

You will need:

  • Super scrumptious, utterly irresistible treats
  • Patience

It's also helpful to minimize the opportunities for the dog to bark while you are re-educating him. This can be as simple as blocking the view from a particular window, so he can't see people in the street, or putting the 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 apply the same rules.

The Stop Rewarding Method

Effective
0 Votes
Stop Rewarding method for Stop Barking
Step
1
Analyze how you react when he barks
Do you give a treat in order to distract the dog from the door when visitors call? STOP! That treat says to the dog, "Well done for barking, here is your reward." Do you shout at the dog? STOP. In dog language you're making a poor attempt at joining in.
Step
2
Anticipate and Avoid
Know what's likely to set your dog off and avoid those situations. For example, if he barks at the street from the living room window, then put a frosted adhesive covering over the lower glass to block his view.
Step
3
Act Appropriately
If the dog barks, then either ignore him completely (hence removing your attention) or without speaking, put his leash on and lead him to another room and leave him alone. The message being that when he barks he ends up on his own.
Step
4
Train Ahead
Teach the dog a command which requires him to take an action other than barking. This could be fetching a ball (Clever, this one, as his mouth is now full) or to go and lie on his mat.
Recommend training method?

The "Quiet" Command Method

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"Quiet" Command method for Stop Barking
Step
1
Put barking on cue
Yes, that's right. Get the dog to bark. You might do this by knocking on a wall so he makes an experimental 'Woof'.
Step
2
Label this as "Bark"
At the same time he woofs, say the command "Bark" and praise him.
Step
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 him a treat. This shows him the opposite of bark is quiet, and it gets rewarded.
Step
4
Practice, practice, practice!
Don't try to interrupt a full stream bark until he's got the hang of "Quiet" in a controlled situation. Keep practicing every day – ideally go for two to three sessions a day.
Recommend training method?

The Displacement Activity Method

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Displacement Activity method for Stop Barking
Step
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.
Step
2
Introduce the command
Throw a treat onto the mat and tell the dog "Go to your mat". Praise him when he goes to snaffle up the treat.
Step
3
Teach "stay"
Have him stay on the mat by teaching the "Stay" command.
Step
4
Increase difficulty
Now add in a level of distraction, such as having him in a different room to the mat, then telling him to go there.
Step
5
Add barking
Once he is reliably carrying out this action, trigger a low level of barking and then command him to go to the mat. You can then reward his good behavior and diffuse the barking situation.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
malibu
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
6 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
malibu
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
6 Years

i had to have new windows fitted and the dog barked non stop for the 6 or so hours the workmen were here she does not respond to treats and totally ignores us she behaves like this anytime anyone comes to the door until they leave, she was rescued at 5 weeks (we were told she was 11 weeks) and was very ill for a few months and by then refused to listen to be trained, had 1 prof trainer spent 15 mins and left saying she was untrainable also will not walk on lead without pulling, she tore my chest muscles with pulling

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
11 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jacqui, The barking sounds like it may stem from a lack of socialization given her history of being sick and isolated from strangers while she was a puppy. If this is the case, then both the lack of socialization and the lack of obedience need to be addressed. I would suggest for the socialization, to work on exposing her to different, new people from a distance, and at a location that she does not feel that she has to defend. Having people come to her home to work on the training at first might make the training more difficult for her if she is territorial, so a neutral place might be more successful. Is she interested in toys, games such as tug of war, or retrieving tennis balls? You can use something called drive train to motivate some dogs that do not respond to treats. Many military and police force dogs are trained this way. When the dog sees the person at a distance close enough to get her attention but far enough for her to still remain calm, you can reward the calm behavior by tossing her a tennis ball to catch in her mouth, or letting her tug on a rope for a second, or handing her a favorite toy to play with for a second. As she reacts less and less to people, you can decrease the distance you are from people gradually, until she is alright with all people who are out in public,. When she reaches that point you can find volunteers, typically friends or family, to come to your home, and practice having the person come to your door. Reward Malibu as soon as she calms down, and repeating the exercise until the person's entrance becomes so boring that she remains calm the entire time they are enter your home. You may have to have the person enter and leave several times before they become boring enough that she will give you even a second of calmness that you can reward. At first all you are looking for is a second of calmness. Once you reward that second she should gradually begin to realize that it was the calm behavior that got her what she wanted and she will be more likely to offer it again. As she learns all this, the amount of time that she is calm should very gradually increase. Once she can handle that person, have a different, new person repeat the process all over again. It will take several people doing this for her to learn to trust people more in general, and not just that specific person coming to your home. If she has ever bitten someone or shown signs of attacking someone, then I would hire someone with experience in dealing with aggressive dogs who does not depend only on treats for their training, and I would also practice the training with Malibu wearing a basket muzzle when possible. For the obedience, I would begin to do what is called "No free lunch". It is a practice where you control all of the dog's life rewards such as food, walks, affection, toys, and anything else that your dog enjoys. You require your dog to work to receive these things. The work can be as simple as having your dog sit, look at you, lay down, or generally do anything that it understands when asked. This practice can help build a foundation of respect, needed for more specific bark and heel training. I would also seek a second opinion from another trainer who uses different methods of training than the one you hired before.There are many different types of trainers out there, who have learned different methods and have different experiences from each other. What seems impossible to one trainer, might be workable for another. It could be that your dog's issues are simply beyond the skill level of the previous trainer. Look for someone who has experience in dealing with reactive dogs. There are positive reinforcement only trainers, who often utilize treats heavily, balanced trainers who combine methods, dominance theory trainers, clicker trainers, science based trainers, and many trainers with experience in multiple forms of training. A trainer with varied experience, who depends more on drive type rewards, with experience working with reactive dogs might be able to help you. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Bentley
Yorkshire Terrier
5 Years
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Question
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Bentley
Yorkshire Terrier
5 Years

As a puppy up until 3, he didn’t bark very much. I could take him walking and everything with very limited barking. He’s always barked at other animals though (dogs, squirrels, etc). For the last few years he barks at EVERYTHING. Strangers even family members who come in the house. He’s very aggressive towards mailmen or delivery people. He barks at every car when we walk. I don’t know how to stop him or what triggered this. Can you help me out?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
11 Dog owners recommended

Hello Taylor, it sounds like Bentley might be barking because he is afraid and suspicious of things in his surroundings. I would work on teaching Bentley the Quiet command, instructions can be found in the article: https://wagwalking.com/training/stop-barking . I would also work on Counter Conditioning Bentley to things in his surrounding to address his fear. First teach him the Quiet command and practice somewhere without distractions. Once he knows the Quiet command, then take him to places where he can see or hear some thing that typically would cause him to bark. Stay far enough away from that thing though for Bentley to still be able to focus on you and to remain calm enough to receive a treat or a toy from you. Practicing giving him the quiet command at that location whenever you see or hear the thing he dislikes. If he remains quiet when told or when he quiets back down after barking, then praise him and give him a small treat that he loves or a favorite toy. You can even toss a ball to him or let him tug on a toy with you for a second, as a reward, if he responds better to play than food. Practice doing this until he no longer seems to be bothered by the thing anymore, but instead seems happy and relaxed at that distance from it. Once he is completely happy and relaxed, then decrease the distance between you and the thing that triggers the barking. Repeat the training until he can remain quiet and calm at that distance too, then continue repeating the exercise at gradually closer and closer distances to the barking trigger. Once he can be around that trigger and remain calm, begin the exercise all over again with his other triggers, one at a time. Gradually decreasing the distance like you did with the first trigger, until he can remain happy and calm. It is important to both build his quiet command and to pair the presence of the trigger with something positive and fun like treats or toys. Pairing the barking triggers with something fun will help him to overcome his fear and suspicion of them, which will help solve the potential root cause of the barking. Practicing the quiet command will help him to break his habit of barking, and will give him something different to do instead. This process may take time, so be patient and do not give up. It took him a long time to learn how to bark that much, so expect him to need time to learn how to behave differently. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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