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How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking for Attention

How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking for Attention
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon1-3 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

You’ve sat down with the friend you haven’t seen in months, coffee in hand and gossip being exchanged. Your needs canine pal isn’t so pleased that Susan’s getting all the attention, though. He keeps barking, putting a damper on this relaxing catch-up. You’ve tried sending him out of the room but then he just barks from outside. You spend most of the day with him, don’t you deserve a little break every once in a while?

It’s exactly the same when you settle down for this week's episode of your favorite show. You can’t even hear the dialogue over the sound of constant barking. If you could get a handle on this attention seeking behavior, you could enjoy a few moments to yourself without having clinger level 100 barking in your ear.

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Defining Tasks

Training your dog not to bark for attention is, thankfully, not too complicated. The biggest hurdle is showing him that attention-seeking barking won’t give him what he wants. You need to break that cycle of behavior, which will take resilience. You’ll also need to use obedience commands so you can instruct him to stop barking with ease. If he’s a puppy and this attention seeking behavior is relatively new, then training it out of him may take just a week or so. If this behavior has been years in the making, then you may need up to three weeks before you finally get peace and quiet.

Succeed with this new regime and you’ll never have to worry about having friends and family over again. You’ll be able to enjoy just their company for a change. You may also find you can instruct your dog to stop barking in a range of other situations too.

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Getting Started

Before work begins, you’ll need a few bits. His favorite food or treats will play an essential role in training, so stock up! You’ll also need time each day to commit to training during times that trigger his attention-seeking barking.

A quiet room, free from distractions, will also be needed for obedience training. For one of the methods, invest in a citronella or water spraying remote-controlled collar. They can be bought from a variety of stores.

 Apart from that, just bring patience and a positive mental attitude and you’re good to get to work!

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The Quiet Method

Most Recommended

3 Votes

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Most Recommended

3 Votes

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1

Induce the barking

Put him in a situation when he’s likely to bark for attention, so watch TV or ignore him. Once he starts barking, take no notice of him and carry on with what you were doing.

2

‘Quiet’

Wait for him to stop barking, then when he does, issue the 'quiet' command and give him a treat. Say the command in a serious tone of voice, you want him to know you mean business. You can use any word or phrase you want, so feel free to get creative. You may have to wait 10 minutes for him to fall silent, so be patient.

3

Treat

Once you give the command, give him a treat too. You can then give him some attention and some verbal praise. Over time, he will start to associate the ‘stop’ or 'quiet' command with falling silent and tasty rewards. Practice this each time he barks for the first few days.

4

Give the command earlier

Now instead of waiting for him to finish barking, start using the command while he is barking. Issue it only once, you need to show him you expect results straight away. By this point he’ll know the command is a cue to be quiet and that food awaits him if he does. Then reward him with a treat and praise as before.

5

Consistency

Now start issuing the command whenever he barks for attention. Be quick to issue it and he’ll fall silent straight away. Keep doing this for as long as it takes to cut out the barking altogether. You can also use this command to get him to stop barking in other situations, from barking at other dogs to people approaching the door.

The Routine Method

Effective

4 Votes

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Effective

4 Votes

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1

Up the exercise

A tired dog won’t want half the attention a dog full of energy will. That means take him on an extra or longer walk. Alternatively, play fetch with him when you’re walking. The short sprints will tire him out. If he’s napping all evening he won’t be pestering you for attention.

2

Tug of war

Get his favorite toy and play tug of war with him for 10 minutes each day. Not only will this help knacker him out, it will give him some solid bonding time and attention from his owner.

3

Set play times

Establish a routine where you play with him at the same time each day. You may want to split it up into once in the morning and once in the evening. If he knows he’s got play time coming up after dinner he won’t be so desperate for attention the rest of the time.

4

Be firm

If he does start barking for attention, remove him from your environment. Take him out the room, or leave the room yourself. Don’t talk to him, don’t shout at him, just distance yourself from him. If he doesn’t ever get the attention he wants, he’ll learn there’s no point barking in the first place.

5

Consider a deterrent

If these steps don’t yield swift results, you can use a remote controlled collar as well. You can get collars that release an unpleasant burst of citronella or water. Just hit the button when he starts barking and this will be an added deterrent to keep him silent. Use all of these steps in conjunction with each other for the best results.

The Cold Shoulder Method

Least Recommended

2 Votes

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Least Recommended

2 Votes

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1

Turn around

When he starts barking, turn away from him and completely ignore him. He’s barking because he wants your attention, so even looking at him may give him the satisfaction he wants. So make sure you give him nothing.

2

Wait for him to stop

As soon as he stops, you can turn around and give him attention, but you MUST wait for him to stop. If you give in after 15 minutes, he’ll know next time that he has to bark for that long to get your attention, so be resilient.

3

Reward

When he has fallen silent, turn around and give him a treat and some attention. Slowly, he will learn the quickest way to get attention is to be quiet.

4

Increase the time before reward

After a couple of days, start to increase the time he has to be quiet for before you turn around and give him attention. After a week, you’ll find he’ll sit there silently for up to 10 seconds before you turn around and give him a treat.

5

Be consistent

If you give in just once or twice half way through training, you’ll be seriously delaying results. You must stamp out giving him any and all attention. This is a case of being cruel to be kind, so stay strong!

By James Barra

Published: 11/02/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Lulu

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Dachshund

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Two Years

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Question

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Whenever my long distance girlfriend visits and we try to go to sleep Lulu barks non stop. Lulu absolutely adores my girlfriend so I’m almost positive she’s barking because she wants my girlfriend’s attention. Eventually I just have to take Lulu out into the living room with me and sleep on the couch with her, otherwise no one would sleep at all because she doesn’t stop barking. She has separation anxiety so I can’t shut her out of the room or close her in her crate because she will nonstop bark then too. How do I get her to stop barking when my girlfriend and I are trying to go to sleep?

July 17, 2022

Lulu's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, For the barking, I suggest combining a few things in your case. You need a way to communicate with Lulu 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. Practice this during the daytime ahead of time when pup barks at other times instead of starting it at bedtime when your girlfriend is already there. 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 someone rings your doorbell and pup doesn't bark at all, pup sees something out the window they usually bark at and they don't bark, pup wants you attention but sits or waits quietly instead of barking, ect... Look for opportunitites to reward pup for being quiet when they usually would have barked. Correct if they bark after being told quiet once, without the treat reward right after when it's quiet. Disobeying Quiet by barking gets corrected, and not barking to begin with get rewarded at this point. A Place command is also a great command to build pup's self-control. Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Once pup knows the new rules, look for opportunities to practice rewarding quietness when your girlfriend comes to visit during the daytime. When pup barks at bedtime, tell pup quiet once. If pup barks after that - correct with the pet convincer at pup's side each time pup barks, but don't give treats at bedtime since you don't want to start a cycle of pup barking then getting quiet in hopes of a treat. For the separation anxiety, practice intentionally go on walks without pup too just to practice pup being left alone during this season. If they aren't trustworthy left alone unsupervised, crate them while gone. I also suggest practicing crating pup in a room away from you for at least 2 hours a day with a dog food stuffed chew toy. Since pup is barking when left in a room without you, practice the Surprise method from the article linked below - if pup is destructive or not consistently potty train, crate them. If pup is fine other than the barking, you can use a small dog proofed room, like bathroom, room with a baby gate up, or exercise pen. Whenever pup stays quiet in the crate/room for 5 minutes, sprinkle some treats into the crate/room without opening it, then leave the room again. As she improves, only give the treats every 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour, 1.5 hour, 2, hour, 3 hour. Practice crating her during the day for 1-3 hours each day that you can. Whenever she cries in the crate, tell her "Quiet" (once you have taught it as described above). If she gets quiet - Great! Sprinkle treats in after five minutes if she stays quiet. If she continues barking or stops and starts again, spray a quick puff of air from a pet convincer at her side through the crate while calmly saying "Ah Ah", then leave again. Only use unscented air canisters, DON'T use citronella! And avoid spraying in the face. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Repeat the rewards when quiet and the corrections whenever she cries. Gradually space out the rewards until pup is staying quiet the entire 2 hours with just the dog food stuffed chew toy to chew on - whether you are home or on your walk/errand/in the backyard without pup. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

July 18, 2022

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Snug

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Pekingese

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3 Months

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Question

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Hi! I just got a new pekingese puppy. He is doing well for the most part, but is having a hard time adjusting to being an only dog. He gets bored very easily and then will bark for attention. It doesn't really seem to matter whether I spend 10 minutes or two hours playing with him beforehand. About 5 minutes into me doing something else he starts barking intermittently. Part of the problem is that he doesn't bark that long. He will just bark three or four times and then stare at me for another 5 minutes. I worry that if I use the "quiet method" of training, I will be teaching him that his barking for attention is working. I've been trying to reward him when he is quiet or entertaining himself well, but that seems to restart the process and get him engaged with me again. Should I just ignore him all together when he barks like that? What is a good form of positive reinforcement that I can use for being quiet?

March 1, 2022

Snug's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Emily, I would feed pup their meal kibble as treats and toy stuffing. I would get a few hollow chew toys like kongs, kong wobbles, easy puzzle toys, ect...Measure out pup's daily meal kibble into a baggie, then use the food from that bag to stuff kongs, kong wobble, and puzzle toys for the day. When you need pup to entertain himself for a while I would give pup one of those items, ignoring any barking pup does. A chew toy is hard to chew while barking so it becomes an automatic reward for quietness. At the end of the day if there is any kibble left in that baggie, you can put the rest in pup's dog food bowl for them to eat. Additionally, spending time interacting with pup practicing training pup can wear pup out mentally as well as physically so pup is less wound up after. This also results in a better trained dog because you are spending a little time on general obedience practice every day. Obedience method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Also, check out the Surprise method from the article I have linked below. I would intentionally practice getting pup used to time alone in a crate or exercise pen to prevent full blown separation anxiety as an adult and make time away from you easier for pup in the long run. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Check out the free PDF e-book After You Get Your Puppy that can be downloaded from the link below for some more information on things like crate training, stuffing kongs, and generally helping pup get off to a good start. www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

March 2, 2022


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