How to Train Your Older Dog to Stop Barking

Medium
1-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

You love your aging dog, for his protruding grays and those extra few seconds it now takes him to get up. But one thing you probably don’t love is the peace shattering barking he refuses to give up. Does your dog wake you up from every nap with deafening barking as soon as someone walks past your house? Are you fed up of shouting your ‘hellos’ to anyone that comes to visit over persistent barking?

First and foremost, solving this problem will grant you some well-deserved peace and quiet. It will also make having guests over a much more relaxing affair. If your dog scares other dogs and people with his barking then it will also rid you of that. If you’re looking to end the sound of the kennels coming from your house, then tackling your old dog’s barking is definitely advisable.

Defining Tasks

There are a number of techniques used to stop barking in dogs. Some rely on treats, others use technology, and ironically, some tackle barking with silence, but more on that later. All of these methods have seen significant success, but applying them to old dogs is never straightforward. The older your dog is, the more stuck in their bad habits they are, and barking probably feels like part of their personality by now.

Fortunately, with perseverance you could end your dog’s barking campaign in just a few weeks, finally granting you a relaxing and peaceful day at home. If your dog’s barking aggravates the neighbors too, then getting it sorted might also make you more popular the next time you step out of the front door. So don’t be deterred by the challenge ahead, it won’t be easy, but it will definitely be worth it!

Getting Started

Before you start tackling the noisy problem at hand, you need to get together a few things. Firstly, get your hands on some treats so you can reward your dog when he makes progress. Also invest in some food puzzles to keep him distracted.

If you’re going to use the ‘Gadgets’ method, you need to get your hands on any number of bark collars and deterrents. They can be bought from a range of online stores and plenty of local pet stores.

Apart from that you just need a positive attitude, a good degree of patience and maybe some ear plugs!

Now you’re prepared, it’s time to tackle that noise pollution…

The Incentivize Silence Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Bark on command
It might sound crazy, but before you can command your dog to be quiet, you need to teach him to bark. So say ‘speak’, wait for him to bark two or three times, then reward them with a treat.
Step
2
Practice
It might be more noise than you can bear, but keep repeating this training until you can command your dog to bark without the promise of treats every time.
Step
3
Time for 'quiet'
Firstly command your dog to ‘speak’. Then when they’ve barked two or three times, say ‘quiet’ in a firm voice and hold the treat in front of their nose. When they go quiet to sniff the treat, give them the treat and verbally praise them. Repeat this process until they don’t need a treat to successfully respond.
Step
4
Practice in a loud environment
Time to practice your ‘speak’ and ‘quiet’ commands when there are other distractions around, such as friends, family and other dogs.
Step
5
Ditch the 'speak'
Your dog should now distinguish between rewards for barking and rewards for silence. So gradually decrease your use of ‘speak’ and instead only command them to be ‘quiet’. It may take weeks of practice, but your old dog will eventually get the message and bark less and less, until he’s so quiet you actually miss the odd bark!
Recommend training method?

The Tackle the Cause Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Food puzzles
Your dog may partly be barking because he has got nothing better to do and knows barking will bring some attention. So if there are particular times of the day your dog barks, give him food puzzles to distract them. This will not only keep him quiet, but it will tire him out, sapping his energy for barking.
Step
2
Exercise
Your dog may be barking because he is full of energy, so increase the amount of exercise you give to knacker him out. You don’t necessarily have to walk him again, just throw a ball or stick while you’re on your normal walk to keep him constantly running.
Step
3
Take away the motivation to bark
If your dog barks when he sees people walking past the house, then draw the curtains and you’ll be afforded some peace and quiet. Your dog will bark less and less, breaking the constant habit.
Step
4
Turn on the TV or radio
If your dog barks when he hears strangers or other dogs, leave the radio on so your dog can’t hear over the noise. He’ll be none the wiser to the people passing by and you can go back to that early evening nap. This again will break the need for him to constantly bark and will slowly break the habit.
Step
5
Provide toys
You can get your hands on a whole range of dogs toys online and from local pet shops. All can keep your dog preoccupied for hours at a time. If he’s dead set on ripping the ear off a toy monkey, then he won’t even have time to bark! By doing all of the above, your dog will bark less and less as he is more distracted and the motivation to bark will be taken away, until eventually he breaks the habit entirely.
Recommend training method?

The Gadgets Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Deterrent collars
Consider fitting your dog with a deterrent collar that provides a negative consequence when he barks. Be cautious if you are in a densely populated canine area, as other dogs' barking may set them off.
Step
2
Noise collar
Fit your dog with a special bark collar that slowly trains your dog not to bark. When your dog barks, the collar transmits a high frequency sound that dogs don’t like. This will see to it your dog associates barking with an unpleasant sound.
Step
3
Citronella collar
If noise collars don’t reduce your dog’s barking, then try a citronella collar. When your dog barks, an unpleasant burst of citronella will be released.
Step
4
Spray collar
Many dogs love jumping in ponds, but hate being hosed down after. Inspired by that, you can now get collars that spray a short burst of water towards your dog’s face when he barks. He will soon realize if he wants to keep dry, he’d better keep quiet.
Step
5
Head halter
If collars aren’t doing the job, you can try a head halter. They slip over your dog's mouth and when your dog barks you gently pull on the leash, closing their mouth. This will quickly signal to them that barking will have consequences.
Step
6
Muzzle
Once your dog starts to bark, put a muzzle over its mouth. Dogs dislike the feeling of muzzles and he will quickly learn not to bark. You will soon get to the point where even getting the muzzle out will silence the barking and eventually they’ll give the barking game up all together.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
max
Boston Terrier
13 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
max
Boston Terrier
13 Years

constantly barks at me when wife and i are together. also barks at any visitorormotion, such as autos moving by. it is a non stop bark

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
147 Dog owners recommended

Hello Edward, Has the barking been going all of his life (assuming he is not a recent rescue) or is it more recent? If it's recent, then a trip to your vet's is needed because that could be a sign of early mental decline. If this has been going on for a while and it is not a medical issue, then it sounds like attention seeking barking and simply being overly stimulated by everything. Barking is a self-rewarding behavior. The more your dog barks, the more certain chemicals are released into his brain, encouraging him to bark even more. This is why dogs will get into states of constant barking even after what originally triggered the barking goes away. For that reason, it's important to interrupt the barking right when he starts it, before he gets into a hyper vigilant worked-up state. There are three things that need to happen: 1. Teach him the "Quiet" command by using the "Quiet" method from the article that I have linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark 2. When he sees or hears something that normally triggers him to bark, tell him "Quiet" in a soft and soothing tone of voice (after you have spent time teaching him the command from the article above - so he understands it). If he does not bark, or barks but then stops right away, then reward him with his favorite treats or something he loves if he does not like food. Look for opportunities to reward him for being quiet - even though you will feel like you should leave him alone since he is being good (rewarding it will train him to do it more often). If he disobeys your "Quiet" command, then you are going to correct him. 3. When he disobeys your "Quiet" command and starts to bark or does not stop barking, then purchase a "Pet Convincer", which is a small canister of pressurized air. Tell him "Ah-Ah" calmly but firmly, and at the same time spray a puff of air at his side near his chest (do not spray him in the face). The puff of air is to interrupt his barking and help him calm back down. When he gets quiet again and stays quiet for a couple of minutes, then praise him softly and reward him with a treat. Repeat this to help with the barking: tell him "Quiet" when he is about to bark or barking, correct him if he barks, and reward him if he gets quiet or remains quiet for a couple of minutes. As he gets better, you can wait until he has been quiet for a little bit longer before you reward him for it. If he is afraid of you and barking out of fear, then you will need to help him get over his fear and your wife should be the one to correct him right now, not you. You however should be the one to reward him when he is quiet. Practice rewarding him for being quiet around you, and whenever you are around him, toss him treats when he is being quiet (even if he is only quiet for a few seconds at first). You are doing this just to help him learn to like and trust you if he is afraid of you. You want to become the treat man - who rewards him whenever he is calm just for being calm around you. For the cars, you will need to start by practicing the training further from the road so that he sees cars but is far enough that he can focus on you when you have treats and stop barking when you tell him to or correct him. If you are too close to the cars at first, then he will likely just fail over and over at first and won't be able to learn - so start further away from the road and get him closer to the cars over time, until he can handle being on the sidewalk and not reacting to them. Also, teach him to "Heel" and when he can handle being on the sidewalk, have him heel and actually focus on you when you walk. This will give him something to do and help him stay focused and relaxed rather than obsessing about the cars. You may find that it's easier to address the car issues with a trainer in person, so that the trainer can help you get a feel for how close to the road you should be, when to reward him timing-wise, how to interrupt him and when. Look for a trainer who will use fair corrections as needed and who will use a lot of positive reinforcement also. You want a trainer who can incorporate both carefully for this issue. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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