How to Train Your Stubborn Dog to Stop Barking

Medium
1-3 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

It’s relentless, bordering on deafening. As soon as you open the door, he’s barking. As soon as it approaches meal time he’s barking because he wants his food. If he wants any attention then he starts barking. If he needs to go out to the toilet, he’ll bark at you until you take him out. There’s no shutting him up either, he’s stubborn. He’ll keep barking until he gets what he wants and it’s driving everyone in the house up the wall. You all love him, but the barking has to stop.

If you can train your dog to stop barking you can enjoy relaxing and peaceful evenings. You won’t have to turn the volume up to hear the TV. It will also mean you can take him to public places without being embarrassed by his constant ramblings.

Defining Tasks

Training your dog not to bark won’t be a walk in the park, especially if he’s stubborn. You’ll need to address the underlying cause of his barking. If it’s attention-seeking behavior, you’ll need to stop giving in when he barks. You can also train him to bark and then be quiet on command. This will allow you to quickly silence him when the barking does start. If he’s a stubborn little puppy he should still be receptive and may respond to training in just a week. If he’s older and been barking for many years you may need up to three weeks to finally put a pin in it.

Succeed with this training and your house will return to a quiet environment where you can take phone calls. You’ll also be woken up by your alarm in the morning instead of his barking.

Getting Started

Before you can get to work you’ll need to gather a few bits. Treats or some tasty food broken into small pieces will play an important part. For one of the methods, you’ll also need to invest in a deterrence collar. You may also need a water bottle (more on that later).

For one of the methods, you’ll need to set aside 10 minutes each day for training. For the other methods, you’ll need to be around him as much as possible to react to his barking as and when.

The only other things you’ll need are ear plugs and patience. Once you’ve got all of that you can get to work!

The Deterrence Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Exercise
Many dogs bark because they are simply full of energy and need a way to release. So, take him for a longer walk each day, or an extra one. If you can’t do that, throw a tennis ball or toy when you’re walking. The short sprints will see him sleeping in the evenings rather than causing noisy trouble.
Step
2
Water bottle
Carry a water bottle with you that has a spray nozzle. Whenever he barks, give him a spray of water near his face. Don’t spray it in his eyes, you don’t want to cause him pain, you just want him to know there are negative consequences.
Step
3
Consider a collar
You can get specially designed deterrence collars for barking. Simply fit him in the collar and it will automatically spray citronella near his face when he barks. This unpleasant spray will quickly make him think twice before barking next time.
Step
4
Don’t give in
When he does bark, it’s important you don’t give him the thing he wants. If he’s barking because you’re making his food and he wants it, wait until he stops. You can look at him and wait calmly, then give it to him only when he falls silent.
Step
5
Never punish him
It’s important you never shout at him or terrify him. You may then find the barking becomes aggressive and could lead to biting. You want to work with him, not antagonize him. You can try any and all of these methods in conjunction with each other. Just be patient, it will take at least a few days for him catch on.
Recommend training method?

The Cold Shoulder Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
No attention
It’s vital that when he barks you don’t give him any attention. If you start playing with him, for example, you’re only telling him barking is the right way to get what he wants. You’re turning over a new leaf, starting from now!
Step
2
Turn around
When he barks, turn around and face the other way. Don’t look at him and don’t talk to him. When he’s stopped barking, you can turn around and give him attention again. It may be frustrating but you need to be patient to start with, he’ll soon get the message.
Step
3
Time out
If he doesn’t stop barking, you can upgrade to this next step. Calmly take him out of the room and leave him for 30 seconds to calm down. This time out period will quickly instill into him what is and isn’t acceptable.
Step
4
Lengthen the sentence
If he starts barking when you let him back in, take him back out again. But this time add an extra 30 seconds to his sentence. Do this each time and he’ll soon realize barking is the worst way to get what he wants.
Step
5
Reward
It’s also important you reward him when he stops barking. so, when he falls silent give him some attention and play with him. You can even give him the occasional treat. This combination of positive and negative reinforcement will swiftly drill the barking habit out of him.
Recommend training method?

The Speak & Silence Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Close monitoring
Over the next couple of days, look for situations that trigger him to bark. These are likely to be when you’re about to go for a walk, when he needs the toilet, and when he knows food is on it’s way. You’re going to teach him to bark so you can then teach him to be quiet.
Step
2
‘Speak’
Put him in one of the bark inducing situations and give him a ‘speak’ command. You can use any word or phrase you like. Just give the command just before or as he starts to bark. You can then give him a treat when he follows through and starts to bark. Practice this for a few minutes each day.
Step
3
‘Silence’
Once he’s got the hang of the speaking command, you can teach him to be quiet. Wait patiently for him to fall silent and then say "silence" as soon as he stops barking. Give the command in a clear but upbeat voice. Then give him a treat and lots of praise.
Step
4
Bring the command forward
Over the next few days practice this for several minutes each day. He will soon associate the command with being quiet and now you can start to give it while he’s still barking. Use it whenever he starts to bark.
Step
5
Lose the treats
Once he’s got the hang of it, you can stop using the ‘bark’ command and only use the ‘silent’ command when it’s needed. At this point, he knows what to do so you can gradually cut out the treats.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Stella
miniature dachshund
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Stella
miniature dachshund
2 Years

Stella is a rescue who came with some behavioral issues. She constantly barks at strangers in places she feels comfortable, especially males. For example, on walks, or at work where she is invited to come daily if she sees someone she is not friends with she will go insane barking, lunging and and annoying these people. Because these are familiar places for her she tends to feel comfortable with baking aggressively at strangers. She does not act this way in unfamiliar places and actually acts quite nervous and scared. I have tried ultrasonic collars, pet corrector spray cans and telling her no, but she doesn't respond to any of them. How can I fix this? I'm desperate, since she is a rescue and has been rehomed multiple times I am not willing to give up.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
706 Dog owners recommended

Hello Justine, It sounds like Stella needs to be desensitized to strangers, especially since, although she is quiet, she is still nervous around strangers at other locations too. This means that the aggression is probably fear-based. Recruit as many friends and people as you can, who Stella does not know and tends to bark at, to help you get her used to strangers one person at a time. Have your volunteer walk toward her until Stella gets a bit tense but is still under control. When the person is close enough for her to notice them, then have the person toss her treats from that distance. Have them toss her a treat before she has a chance to react in the first place, whenever she gets quiet for even a second, and whenever she calms down a bit. Continue the treats for as long as she is doing well, until you run out of treats during that session. You can use her own dog food pieces as treats for this if she is very food motivated. To make her own food more interesting, you can also put her own food into a zip-lock bag with a kibble topper treats, which are usually freeze dried meat, that have been mashed up into powder. Letting the food sit in the powder in the bag overnight should make the dog food more enticing. As she improves, then have the person get closer while practice the treat tossing. When the person can stand right in front of her and she will remain calm, then let Stella greet the person if she chooses to. Let Stella be the one to initiate the interaction though. If she initiates an interaction, then have the person feed her treats from her hand, one treat at a time. You can add a bit of touch with every treat if she becomes completely relaxed around the person. While the person is tossing the treats, have the person ignore Stella in other ways and not speak to her or act too exciting at first. Practice this scenario with a new person whenever Stella becomes comfortable with the current person. You can also practice this with different people during the same week, but only do one person per interaction. The goal should be a lot of different people over the coming months. You want her to interact with enough people for her to generalize the experience to all people and not just a couple of people that she was fed by. When she is out in public with you and quiet but nervous, then whenever you approach a person or she notices someone, praise her, do a fun little dance to get her excited, and give her a couple of treats. You want her to look forward to people being present because it is fun and rewarding for her. Even though she does not bark at those people, dealing with her underlying fear should help her response toward people at the office too. If you cannot practice her training at the office at first because she is too reactive, then have people come to your home if she tends to act aggressively toward visitors there too. She should also be comfortable in that environment, and likely to react. Other locations where she is reactive will work too. Leave her at home from work during the day if you can while you are working on the training at home and in other, non-office locations with her, so that experiences at the office do not set you back until she is ready for them. When she is doing well enough at home to be less reactive toward visitors there, then practice at the office around co-workers. You might even want to go to the office on off-hours or days if that is an option, and have some of your training volunteers meet you there to practice, before trying the real thing during work hours. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Stella's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Zeppy
Goldendoodle
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Zeppy
Goldendoodle
1 Year

Zeppy has major separation anxiety and we cannot leave him home alone. He howls at the top of his lungs if we leave for five minutes or five hours. He does not settle. He also barks and howls at anyone that walks by the house.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
128 Dog owners recommended

Hi there. I am going to send you some information on separation anxiety. This is a multi-fold process and does take time to correct. But it is not impossible. The first step in treating separation anxiety is to break the cycle of anxiety. Every time a dog with separation anxiety becomes anxious when their owner leaves, the distress they feel is reinforced until they become absolutely frantic any time they are left alone. Owners should give the dog an acceptable item to chew, such as a long lasting food treat when they go out. The goal is to have the dog associate this special treat with the owner’s departure. Treats might include hollow bones stuffed with peanut butter or soft cheese, drilled out nylon bones, or hollow rubber chew toys such as Kong toys with similar enhancements (place these in the freezer before giving them to your dog to make them last longer). Give the bone to your dog about 15 minutes before preparing to depart. The chew toy should be used only as a reward to offset the anxiety triggered by your departure. Hiding a variety of these delectable food treats throughout the house may occupy the dog so that the owner’s departure is less stressful. In an effort to prevent destructive behavior, many owners confine their dog in a crate or behind a gate. For dogs that display “barrier frustration,” the use of a crate in this way is counterproductive. Many dogs will physically injure themselves while attempting to escape such confinement. Careful efforts to desensitize and counter condition the dog to crate confinement before leaving them alone may be helpful in some cases. However, some dogs rebel against any form of restraint, including restricting barriers and, for them, crate training may never be a positive experience. Crate training and utilizing the crate while people are home can be a positive way to make the crate a safe place. If you utilize it when people are around, your dog won’t necessarily associate the crate with departure and being left alone. Creating nap time in the crate throughout the day can also be helpful. Building Independence Independence training can help fight separation anxiety and loneliness. Independence training can help build confidence and instill obedience. Independence training is one of the more important aspects of the program. It involves teaching your dog to “stand on their own four feet” when you are present, with the express intention that their newfound confidence will spill over into times when you are away. You need to make your dog more independent by reducing the bond between both of you to a more healthy level of involvement. Decreasing the bond is the hardest thing for owners to accept. Most people acquire dogs because they want a strong relationship with them. However, you have to accept that the anxiety your dog experiences in your absence is destructive. Essential components of the independence training program are as follows: Your dog can be with you, but the amount of interaction time should be reduced, especially where attention-seeking behaviors are concerned. You should initiate all interactions with your dog, and they shouldn’t be permitted to demand attention. If you give your dog attention every time they whine, it helps to foster the dog’s dependence on you and increases its anxiety in your absence. You should ignore your dog completely when they engage in attention-seeking behavior, and avoid catering to them when they appear to feel anxious. This means no eye contact, no pushing away, and no soothing talk or body language, all of which will reward their attention-seeking mission. Attention is encouraged only when your dog is sitting or lying calmly. The goal is not to ignore your dog, but to stop reinforcing attention-seeking behaviors so that your dog develops a sense of independence. Minimize the extent to which your dog follows you by teaching them to remain relaxed in one spot, such as their bed. To accomplish this, it is helpful if you train them to perform a sit-stay or down-stay while gradually increasing the time that they hold the command and remain at a distance from you. Providing a treat or toy and encouraging individual play time can be helpful. Once your dog has learned basic obedience commands, you can train them to hold long down-stays while you move progressively farther away. First, your dog should be trained to perform a “down-stay” on a mat or dog bed using a specific command, such as “lie down.” Your dog may have to be gently escorted to the designated spot the first few times. Initially, they should be rewarded every 10 seconds for remaining there, then every 20 seconds, 30 seconds, and so on. Once they have figured out what is wanted, you should switch to an intermittent schedule of reinforcement [reward], as this will strengthen the learned response. Each time your dog breaks their “stay,” issue a verbal correction, indicating that there will be no reward, and then escort them back to their bed. First, your dog can be made to “down-stay” while you are in the room. Next, they can be asked to stay when you are outside of the room, but nearby. The distance and time you are away from your dog can be increased progressively until your dog can remain in a down-stay for 20 to 30 minutes in your absence. Your dog should be warmly praised for compliance. Of course, they need to accept the praise without breaking the stay. Your dog should become accustomed to being separated from you when you are home for varying lengths of time and at different times of day. You can set up child gates to deny your dog access into the room you’re occupying (i.e. reading, watching television, or cooking). Instruct your dog to lie down and stay on a dog bed outside the room. As previously mentioned, you can provide an extended-release food treat or toy to keep your dog calm and distracted. Once they are able to tolerate being separated from you by a child gate, you can graduate to shutting the door to the room so your dog cannot see you. Allowing a dog to sleep in bed with the family can increase dependence. If you decide to prevent your dog from sleeping in your bed, there are some steps to take to establish this routine. First, you need to train your dog to sleep in their own bed on the floor in your bedroom. They may have to be taken to their bed several times before they get the message that you really want them to sleep in their own bed. Alternatively, you can train your dog to enjoy sleeping in a crate to prevent unwanted excursions. Do not use a crate if it causes more anxiety and distress for your dog. Once they tolerate sleeping in their own bed in your bedroom, you can move their bed outside of the bedroom and use a child gate or barrier to keep them out. Always remember to reward your dog with praise or a food treat for remaining in their bed. Develop Departure Techniques Many owners erroneously feel that if separation is so stressful, then they should spend more time with their dog before leaving. Unfortunately, this only exacerbates the condition. Everyone in the family should ignore your dog for 15 to 20 minutes before leaving the house and for at least 10 to 20 minutes after returning home. Alternatively, your leaving can be made a highlight of your dog’s day by making it a “happy time” and the time at which they are fed. Departures should be quick and quiet. When departures (and returns) generate less anxiety (and excitement), your dog will begin to feel less tension in your absence. Remember to reward calm behavior. Teach your dog that your departure and return are just normal parts of the day and are not times to be stressed. You should attempt to randomize the cues indicating that you are preparing to leave. Changing the cues may take some trial and error. Some cues mean nothing to a dog, while others trigger anxiety. Make a list of the things you normally do before leaving for the day (and anxiety occurs) and the things done before a short time out (and no anxiety occurs).Then mix up the cues. For example, if your dog is fine when you go downstairs to do the laundry, you can try taking the laundry basket with you when you leave for work. If your dog becomes anxious when you pick up your keys or put on a coat, you should practice these things when you are not really leaving. You can, for example, stand up, put on a coat or pick up your car keys during television commercials, and then sit down again. You can also open and shut doors while you are home when you do not intend to leave. Entering and exiting through various doors when leaving and returning can also mix up cues for your dog. When you are actually leaving, you should try not to give any cues to this effect. Leave your coat in the car and put your keys in the ignition well before leaving. It is important to randomize all the cues indicating departure (clothing, physical and vocal signals, interactions with family members, other pets, and so on). The planned departure technique can be very effective for some dogs. This program is recommended only under special circumstances because it requires that you never leave your dog alone during the entire retraining period, which can be weeks or months. Timing is everything when implementing this program. If your dog shows signs of anxiety (pacing, panting, barking excessively) the instant you walk out of the door, you should stand outside the door and wait until your dog is quiet for three seconds. Then go back inside quickly and reward your dog for being calm. If you return WHEN your dog is anxious, this reinforces your dog’s tendency to display the behavior, because it has the desired effect of reuniting the “pack” members. The goal is for your dog to connect being calm and relaxed with your return. Gradually work up to slightly longer departures 5 to 10 minutes as long as your dog remains quiet, and continue in this fashion. Eventually, you should be able to leave for the day without your dog becoming anxious when you depart. When performed correctly, this program can be very helpful in resolving separation anxiety. Other Treatment Options Obedience Training Obedience training helps to instill confidence and independence in your dog. You should spend 5 to 10 minutes daily training your dog to obey one-word commands. It may be helpful to have training sessions occur in the room where your dog will be left when you are gone. All positive experiences (food, toys, sleep, training, and attention) should be associated with this area of the home. Exercise Your dog should receive 15 to 20 minutes of sustained aerobic exercise once, preferably twice, per day. It is often helpful to exercise your dog before you leave for the day. Exercise helps to dissipate anxiety and provides constructive interaction between you and your dog. It is best to allow your dog 15 to 20 minutes to calm down before you depart. Fetching a ball is good exercise, as is going for a brisk walk or run with your dog on a leash. Even if your dog has a large yard to run in all day, the aerobic exercise will be beneficial since most dogs will not tire themselves if left to their own devices. This is incredibly helpful in dogs that are working breeds that need a job to expend energy and work their brains. Supplements Recently, supplements have been released to the public that can help dogs with anxiety. Purina created a probiotic that has been shown to reduce anxiety and provide a calming effect on some dogs. Your veterinarian may recommend this product for treating anxiety, or other products that contain L-Theanine or L-tryptophan.

Add a comment to Zeppy's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Winry
Bluetick Coonhound/Border Collie
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Winry
Bluetick Coonhound/Border Collie
2 Years

Winry barks a lot, and nothing has worked so far. She barks while running the fence with neighbor dogs, when people or animals walk by, at her ball when she gets it stuck someplace, or even at inanimate objects that get blown into the yard. She's very smart, and likes to play a game where she gets her ball stuck someplace, and then she figures out how to get it back. If she can't get it back, she barks at it non-stop. When she's running the fence barking with the neighbor dogs, she completely ignores our commands. We have to break her concentration on the play before she'll listen again. We tried a vibration bark collar, but she didn't care. So we moved to a static collar. It worked for a while, until she figured out that it didn't pick up higher pitched yips as well and that she could shake her head and move it off to the side so it wouldn't work properly. We can't tighten it any further without choking her. Now, we try to bring her inside and don't let her out again for a while, but she just goes right back to barking as soon as she's out again. We play with her several times a day, but she's relentless. She would run after the ball until her heart gave out if we didn't make her take a break.
She's also claustrophobic and tries to bury her food, even in a raised dish.

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
92 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I think it is best if you call in a trainer to help you work with Winry, since you have a lot of concerns. I would consider methods other than the collar. Teach Winry the quiet command as described here in the Quiet Method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark. This method can be used in many situations. As well, there are tips here: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-to-not-bark. Working on things like recall may be the answer for not listening when barking with the other dogs: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall. Take Winry to a dog park and let her run with the dogs there, to tire her out. Does she have mentally stimulating toys at home? Buy her an interactive feeder and puzzle toys for mind-work. But yes, I think a private trainer who can work on the issues right at home, giving you tools to use in your yard is ideal. Sign her up for obedience classes as well. Good luck!

Add a comment to Winry's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Hank
Mix
8 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Hank
Mix
8 Years

Hank is the alpha in a 3 dog house. He barks aggressive at the middle dog, Taco Truck, a chihuahua, whenever we are in the house. Taco lives behind the couch. When we go to the backyard, they are best friends. Hank barks all the time. What can we do? We have tried everything the vet had recommended and he's stubborn.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
706 Dog owners recommended

Hello Casie, I suggest working on building Hank's respect for you and teaching a Quiet command. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Crate train the dogs using the crate manners and Surprise methods from the article and video linked below - especially Hank. Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Second, teach both dogs the Out command (which means leave the area) and make whoever is causing issues leave the area as needed - typically will be Hank. Out command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Decide what your house rules are for both dogs and you be the one to enforce the rules instead of the dogs. No aggression, no pushiness, no stealing toys, no stealing food, no being possessive of people or things, or any other unwanted behavior - if one dog is causing a problem you be the one to enforce the rules so that the dogs are NOT working it out themselves. For example, if Hank comes over to your other dog when he is trying to sleep, tell Hank Out. If he obeys, praise and reward him. If he disobeys, stand in front of your other dog, blocking the pup from getting to him, and walk toward Hank calmly but firmly until pup leaves the area and stops trying to go back to your other dog. If Hank growls at pup or is keeping pup from coming out from behind the couch, make him leave the room. Be vigilant and take the pressure off of your dogs - you want them to learn to look to you when there is a problem, and for them to learn respect for each other because you have taught it to them and not because they have used aggression. If at any point Hank displays any form of aggression toward you, it's time to hire a professional trainer who specializes in aggression to help you with this in person. Look for someone who specializes in behavior issues like aggression and has a track record of success with their previous clients in these types of areas, and whose methods you feel comfortable with. Teach both dogs the Place command and work up to having them both stay on their separate Place beds calmly for 1-2 hours. This is a great calming, self-control building, and tolerance exercise. It helps build confidence with your timid dog and self-control and respect with Hank. It also helps get them both in a working, more respectful mindset while in the same room as each other. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Finally, work on manners and building respect and trust for you with both dogs - this is most important with Hank, but doing some of this with the timid dog can help boost confidence as well. Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel All three methods with Hank, the Consistency and Obedience methods specifically for your more timid pup: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Hank's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd