How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking

Medium
2-8 Weeks
Behavior

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.

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.

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.

The "Quiet" Command Method

ribbon-method-2
Most Recommended
3 Votes
"Quiet" Command method for Stop Barking
Step
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'.
Step
2
Label this as "Bark"
At the same time they woof, say the command "Bark" and praise them with a pleasing voice.
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 them a treat. This shows them the opposite of bark is quiet, and the action gets rewarded.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

The Stop Rewarding Method

ribbon-method-3
Effective
1 Vote
Stop Rewarding method for Stop Barking
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

The Displacement Activity Method

ribbon-method-1
Least Recommended
2 Votes
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 your dog "Go to your mat". Praise them when they go to snaffle up the treat.
Step
3
Teach "stay"
Have them stay on the mat by teaching the "Stay" command. Be consistent and patient.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Pony
Mix
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Pony
Mix
2 Years

Hello! My dog Pony is 2 and a half years old, and we are dealing with a lot of separation anxiety. Not only is this very problematic because I literally cannot go to class without having a pet sitter, it is also very bad for him, and I can sense that. I try to leave him alone in my room up to 3 times a day and reward him when I come back if he hasn't barked (should I reward him?), but it is not enough. He doesnt bark AT ALL if there's anyone with him (even strangers), but as soon as he is alone alone he screams and eats doors. I have no idea what to do... I am not a very good trainer I have to admit, and I do not really know how to make him understand that I will always come back! Thank you so much for your help,
Best,
Juliette

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1006 Dog owners recommended

Hello Juliette, There are a couple of routes you can take with the separation anxiety, depending on how pup responds and the severity of it. There is also something called separation boredom, which is not really anxiety but rather boredom based. Giving pup things to do, like dog food stuffed kongs, can help with boredom based issues. For anxiety, the first step is to work on building his independence and his confidence by adding a lot of structure and predictability into his routine. Things such as making him work for rewards like meals, walks, and pets. Working on "Stay" and "Place," commands while you move away or leave the room, and teaching him to remain inside a crate when the door is open. Change your routine surrounding leaving so that he does not anticipate alone time and build up his anxiety before you leave - which is hard for him to deescalate from, and be sure to continue to give him something to do in the crate during the day (such as a dog food stuffed Kong to chew on). Also, practice the Surprise method from the article I have linked below. If pup does fine out of the crate and the case is mild, you can do this in a dog proofed room instead of crate, but if pup is destructive when left alone or has potty accidents, pup is probably being given freedom out of the crate too soon, and needs to be crated while you are away until he is past that destructive phase around 18 months; this is the general protocol for separation anxiety. It is gentle but can take a very long time on its own for some dogs with more severe cases. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Another protocol involves teaching the dog to cope with their own anxiety by making their current anxious go-to behaviors unpleasant, giving them an opportunity to stop those behaviors long enough to learn something new, then rewarding the correct, calmer behavior instead. This protocol can feel harsh because it involves careful correction, but it tends to work much quicker for many dogs. If you go this route, I suggest hiring a trainer who is very experienced using both positive reinforcement and fair correction. Who is extremely knowledgeable about e-collar training, and can follow the protocol listed below, to help you implement the training. Building his independence and structure in his life will still be an important part of this protocol too. First, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3j882MAYDU Second, you will need an interrupter, such as an electronic collar, e-collar, with a wide range of levels. I recommend purchasing only high quality brands though. For example, E-Collar Technologies Mini Educator or Garmin Delta Sport or Dogtra for this. If you are not comfortable with an e-collar then you can use a vibration collar (the Mini Educator and Garmin should also have a vibration mode) or unscented air remote controlled air spray collar. DO NOT use a citronella collar, buy the additional unscented air canister if the collar comes with the citronella and make sure that you use the unscented air. (Citronella collars are actually very harsh and the smell - punisher lingers a long time so the dog continues to be corrected even after they stop the behavior). The vibration or spray collars are less likely to work than stimulation e-collars though, so you may end up spending more money by not purchasing an e-collar first. The Mini Educator has very low levels of stimulation, that can be tailored specifically to your dog. It also has vibration and beep tones that you can try using first, without having to buy additional tools. Next, set up a camera to spy on him. If you have two smart devices, like tablets or smartphones, you can Skype or Facetime them to one another with your pup’s end on mute, so that you can see and hear him but he will not hear you. Video baby monitors, video security monitors with portable ways to view the video, GoPros with the phone Live App, or any other camera that will record and transmit the video to something portable that you can watch outside live will work. Next, put the e-collar on him while he is outside of the crate, standing, and relaxed. Turn it to it's lowest level and push the stimulation button twice. See if he responds to the collar at all. Look for subtle signs such as turning his head, moving his ears, biting his fur, moving away from where he was, or changing his expression. If he does not respond at all, then go up one level on the collar and when he is standing and relaxed, push the stimulation button again twice. Look for a reaction again. Repeat going up one level at a time and then testing his reaction at that level until he indicates a little bit that he can feel the collar. Here is a video showing how to do this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM A modern, high quality collar will have so many levels that each level should be really subtle and he will likely respond to a low level stimulation. It's uncomfortable but not the harsh shock many people associate with such collars if done right. Once you have found the right stimulation level for him and have it correctly fitted on him, have him wear the collar around with it turned off or not being stimulated for several hours or days if you can (take it off at night to sleep though). Next, set up your camera to spy on him while he is in the crate. Put him into the crate while he is wearing the collar and leave. Spy on him from outside. Leave however you normally would. As soon as you hear him barking or see him start to try to escape or destroy the crate from the camera, push the stimulation button once. Every time he barks or tries to get out of the crate, stimulate him again. If he does not decrease his barking or escape attempts at least a little bit after being stimulated seven times in a row, then increase the stimulation level by one level. He may not feel the stimulation while excited so might need it just slightly higher. Do not go higher than three more levels on the mini-educator or two more levels on another collar with less levels right now though because he has not learned what he is supposed to be doing yet. For example, if his level is 13 out of 100 levels on the Mini Educator, don't go past level 16 right now. The level you end up using on him on the mini educator collar will probably be low to medium, within the first forty levels of the one-hundred to one-hundred-and-twenty-five levels, depending on the model you purchase. If it is not, then have a professional evaluate whether you have the correct "working level" for him. If he continues to ignore the collar, then go up one more stimulation level and if that does not work, make sure that the collar is turned on, fitted correctly, and working. After five minutes to ten minutes, as soon as your dog stays quiet and is not trying to escape for five seconds straight, go back inside to the dog, sprinkle several treats into the crate without saying anything, then leave again. Practice correcting him from outside when he barks or tries to escape, going back inside and sprinkling treats when he stays quiet, for up to 30 minutes at first. After 30 minutes -1 hour of practicing this, when he is quiet, go back inside and sprinkle more treats. This time stay inside. Do not speak to him or pay attention to him for ten minutes while you walk around and get stuff done inside. When he is being calm, then you can let him out of the crate. When you let him out, do it the way Jeff does is in this video below. Opening and closing the door until your dog is not rushing out. You want him to be calm when he comes out of the crate and to stay calm when you get home. That is why you need to ignore him when you get home right away. Also, keep your good byes extremely boring and calm. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5GqzeLzysk Put a food stuffed Kong into the crate with him also. He may not want it right now, but once he is less anxious after training he will likely enjoy it and that will help him to enjoy the crate more, especially since he is so food motivated. First, he may need his anxious state of mind interrupted so that he is open to learning other ways to behave. Once it's interrupted, give him a food stuffed Kong in the crate for him to relieve his boredom instead of barking, since he will need something other than barking to do at that point. After a few months of being crated, if pup is trustworthy in your home and not destructive or having accidents, and you don't want to crate, you can likely phase out the use of the crate also, by leaving the door open, spying on pup with a camera, and seeing how he does. If he does well for five minutes, then leave for ten minutes the next time, then fifteen, thirty, one hour, two hours, three hours, ect...The crate is often needed at first though, until the anxiety improves. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Natalie
Beagle mix
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Natalie
Beagle mix
2 Years

Hello,

Sky is almost 2 years old/beagle mix and prior to coming into rescue she has been an outside dog.

I need help with barking- especially when I am in the kitchen getting their food ready (I have two other beagles), jumping, and mouthy behaviors.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1006 Dog owners recommended

Hello Natalie, For the barking, I suggest combining a few things in your case. You need a way to communicate with her 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. 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, 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 at their side. 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 understands the routine, wait until pup stays quiet for gradually longer and longer before rewarding them - so that they don't just bark and get quiet in hopes of a treat. At that point, reward pup just for staying quiet, like when you catch them nicely lying on their bed quietly while you work, chewing their own toy contentedly, ect...And just correct if they bark, without the treat reward right after when it's quiet. A Place command is also a great command to build pup's self-control. I would teach pups to go to their individual Place beds outside the kitchen and stay there while you are in the kitchen preparing food. Eventually working up to giving a reward after you are done in the kitchen if they stay. Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Gracie
Pit Bull / Boxer mix
4 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Gracie
Pit Bull / Boxer mix
4 Years

Reactive to other dogs, especially when on her lead.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1006 Dog owners recommended

Hello Vicki, If there is a G.R.O.W.L. class in your area I would see about joining that. I suggest working on the structure of your walk to begin. You want pup to be working during the walk - having to stay behind you, focus on you, perform commands periodically, and not have her mind on scanning the area in search of other dogs. The walk should start with her having to exit your home very calmly, performing obedience commands at the door if she isn't calm. She should wait for permission ("Okay" or "Free" or "Let's Go") before going through the door instead of bolting through if that's an issue. When you walk she should be in the heel position - with her head behind your leg. That position decreases her arousal, reduces stress because she isn't the one in charge and the one encountering things first. It prevents her from scanning for other dogs, staring dogs down or being stared down, and ignoring you behind her. It also requires her to be in a more submissive, structured, focused, calmer mindset - which has a direct effect on how aroused, stressed, and aggressive she is - it makes her feel like the responsibility is on your shoulders not hers around other dogs. Additionally, when you do pass other dogs, as soon as she starts staring them down, interrupt her. Don't tolerate challenging stares - even if she is stressed. Remind her with a gentle correction that you are leading the walk and she is not allowed to break her heel or stare another dog down. It is far easier to deal with reactivity when you interrupt a dog early in the process - before they are highly aroused and full of adrenaline and cortisol, and to keep the dog in a less aroused/calmer state to begin with. This also makes the walk more pleasant for her in the long-run. Leading the walk this way can actually boost a dog's confidence in the long run around other dogs because the dog feels like you will handle the situation so they can relax. 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 Outside of the walk you can work on building pup's trust and respect for you in other ways too to help her confidence. The following commands and exercises are also good for that: Agility/obstacles for building confidence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elvtxiDW6g0 Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Any tricks that challenge her mentally, require impulse control, and equal her learning new things successfully. A long down stay around distractions is a good thing to practice during walks periodically. A good way to do introductions with other dogs is to recruit friends with calm dogs and use the Passing Approach and the Walking together methods from the article linked below. After a few practice session of this, when the dogs can calmly walk side by side finally, take pups on walks together with both in a structured, focused heel. This gives both dogs something other than each other to focus on, keeps their energy calm, and helps them associate each other with the pleasant experience of a walk. Repeat this with lots of different dogs, one or two dogs at a time - you want other dogs to be associated with calmness, pleasant experiences, and boring things - not roughhousing, wrestling, nose-to-nose interactions always, or being rushed by them. If she is aggressive when meeting the dogs up close, I would desensitize her to a basket muzzle and not allow the dogs to get close enough for a fight. I would work with a trainer to go beyond calm interactions from a distance. https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs Sometimes you can even find others to practice with through obedience clubs, meetup groups, or hiking groups. If she isn't aggressive when actually meeting other dogs, then when you do allow a meeting, give slack in the leash, relax yourself, and keep the greeting to a max of 3 seconds, then happily tell her "Let's Go" or "Heel" and start walking away, giving her a treat when she follows so that she will learn to quickly respond to that command in the future. Keeping the greeting relaxed and short can diffuse tension and give the dogs enough time to say hi before competing starts. Avoid dogs who are overly exuberant or very tense before meeting. Those dogs are more likely to trigger a fight due to her lack of tolerance with a rude dog that doesn't respect space or another tense dog already being ready to fight. Right now, when she isn't ready to meet or if there is a bite history, if others want to meet, you can calmly tell them "No, She's in training". Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
mini
terrier
5 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
mini
terrier
5 Years

On walks she barks and lunges at every dog. Shes doesnt seem afraid but seems enjoy and get her fix of barking..She comes home happy after a good barking sessions..I tried distracting her. changing direction but she can see a dog a mile away.Shes on the lookout all the time for dogs

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1006 Dog owners recommended

Hello Brid, Barking is a self-rewarding behavior. Many dogs find the act of barking itself entertaining so will bark just for fun, and then it can become habitual. If the issue is pup barking for fun, I suggest combining a few things in your case. First, you need a way to communicate with her 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. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Next, once pup understands what Quiet means you will choose an interrupter - which will be a form of punishment - neither too harsh nor ineffective. An e-collar or Pet Convincer are two of the most effective types of interrupter for most dogs. 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!). This option doesn't require as much in depth knowledge of your tool as something like an e-collar, so it's usually what's tried first. An e-collar, aka remote training collar, uses stimulation to interrupt the dog. Only use a high quality e-collar for this, such as E-collar technologies mini educator, Dogtra, SportDog, or Gamin. A good collar should have at least 40 levels, the more levels the more accurately you can train - finding the lowest level your dog will respond to, called a "Working level" so the training is less adverse. 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. Most bark training only gives part of that equation. Fitting an e-collar - it should be put on while she is calm, just standing around - Ideally have her wear the collar around for a while before starting any training so she won't associate the training with the collar but just with her barking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLxB6gYsliI Finding the level to use for her (sometimes you will have to go 1 or 2 levels higher during training while the dog is aroused but once she improves you can usually decrease back to her normal level again) - this training level is called a dog's "Working level": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM Once pup is calmer in general after the initial training, practice exposing her a lot to the things that trigger the barking normally (make a list - even if it's long). Whenever she DOESN'T bark around something that she normally would have, calmly praise and reward her to continue the desensitization process. This part of the training is equally important to teach pup how to create new good habits in place of the barking. Without this part of the training pup will probably start barking again eventually. An automatic bark collar can also be used after the initial training is done - so she understands that the correction is for her barking at that point in the training. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Copper
Basset Hound
4 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Copper
Basset Hound
4 Months

I want to train him not to take off with out a leash and come when called and he barks if I step away for a couple seconds

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1006 Dog owners recommended

Hello Audrey, Check out the Reel In method from the article linked below. To transition to off-leash training a long training leash is used, like a 20 foot one with a padded back clip harness for neck safety. Once pup is great with come around distractions on that, you can transition to a super lightweight 40-50 foot leash leash (so pup feels like they are off leash but you can still keep pup safe and consistent until they are ready for fully off leash), then you can fully transition to off leash completely, starting in safer areas like large fenced areas or places where pup is more likely to stay close and be visible further away. Reel In method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Check out this article as well. It goes over how to progress through teaching Come, including using long leashes, and includes the Premack Principle, which is something I also recommend practicing for a reliable Come. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-to-come-when-called/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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