How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking for Attention

Medium
1-3 Weeks
Behavior

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.

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.

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!

The Cold Shoulder Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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!
Recommend training method?

The Quiet Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

The Routine Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Dory
Lhasapoo
8 Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Dory
Lhasapoo
8 Months

Dory is a quiet dog most of the time. I am an artist working from home and at least once a day she will just start barking at me for attention. I have tired walking away but she will follow me and gently nip my leg. I have tired calm voice commands e.g “quiet” but nothing appears to stop her until I pick her up or distract her with a toy, but I am worried I am teaching her to bark for my attention please help.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
30 Dog owners recommended

Hello Gemma, To get Dory to stop barking at you for attention first create a confined, safe area in another room, where she cannot see you. You can use an exercise pen for this, or a bathroom with the trash can and bath mats taken up and a baby gate across the doorway, or another small and safe area that she cannot escape from. Whenever she begins to bark at your for attention, calmly take her into that confined area, without speaking to her, and leave her in there until she has been quiet for at least five minutes. Also prevent the barking episodes by taking breaks when you are able, to before she gets too restless, and play with her, train her, or exercise her during those breaks. While you are busy working give her something to entertain herself with, such as a Kong toy stuffed with her dog food and a bit of peanut butter, or a dog puzzle toy filled with dry dog food, or a wobble toy that she has to push around to get food out of, Kong brand makes one. You can feed her entire food for the day in these types of toys if you would like to. Simply measure out her food for the day and fill all of the different toys with her dog food. This will give her a job to do too while you work. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Dory's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Dory
Lhasapoo
8 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Dory
Lhasapoo
8 Months

Hello, I found this website so helpful for our family being a new dog owner.

Our Dory is doing so well, we are very happy with her progress. There are still small things we would like to sort out and would appreciate any professional advise.

We recently changed her lead and harness from a retractable lead to a standard length (it has a bit of bounce) she walks well.

But when we walk as a family (five of us) if a child walks away or someone is slow she starts to whine (she sounds very frantic) and pulls back or front. We try to ignore it and continue.

But how can I help curb this behaviour.

Please help!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
30 Dog owners recommended

Hello Gemma, I am so glad that you have found the website helpful. Congratulations on your dog and the progress that you have made! When Dory is walking with the entire family, the family itself is a form of distraction, even more so than most distractions that you pass, and just like any other training, you have to practice and work up to a dog being able to do a command in the presence of distractions. It might not be ideal, but the answer is to practice your heel work during the walk, while other family members are present. To help this go faster you can try to go on extra walks that everyone expects to just be training walks. Whenever she begins to move her head past your leg at all, turn directly in front of her at a ninety degree angle, so that she has to slow down and adjust her walking to stay with you and not run into your leg. Whenever she lags behind you, go faster and hurry her up. Act excited to get her to focus back on you, and to keep her moving. Change directions frequently when she gets too distracted by one of the kids, so that she has to pay attention to you again in order to keep up. Also bring treats in a Zip-Lock bag in your pocket, and when she is looking at you and walking right beside you, instead of focusing on other things like your kids, praise her and reach down to give her a treat while you are walking. The more you practice teaching her to walk in the heel position beside you while walking with your family, the better she should get, so that walks will eventually be easy with her. The inconvenience of practicing on walks now with her can make walks for the rest of her life with everyone easier. Another option is to purchase a training device such as an gentle leader, or front clip harness, designed to help with the pulling. The harness or gentle leader itself will not train her, she will still need you to work on the training while walking with your family without the harness or gentle leader at other times, but during walks when you cannot train her, you can use the device to prevent her from pulling and developing worse habits. Doing that will give you options for each walk. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Dory's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Thor and Loki
Labrador Terrier
5 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Thor and Loki
Labrador Terrier
5 Months

I am training two dogs at the same time. They do well separately but the minute they are together they do not listen to anything unless I say treat. I learned after the fact that I should not have resued litter mates but the damage is done.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
30 Dog owners recommended

Hello Norma, Unfortunately another dog is a huge distraction, so it is not unusual for the puppies to only listen when separate. To help them learn, work on training both puppies separately every day, even fifteen minute training sessions every day for each puppy will help. Practice the commands that each puppy knows around distractions such as people, other dogs, smells, sights, and other animals, in addition to teaching new commands during the sessions. If you can recruit another person to help you, then have training sessions with both puppies together as often as you can as well. Have one person focus on one puppy at a time. Doing this should help the puppies to learn to listen when the distraction of the other puppy is there. You can also work on training the two puppies together on you own, but everything that you work on during those training sessions needs to be easier versions of everything that the puppies already know, since it will be harder for the puppies to focus around each other. Practice new commands and harder versions of the commands that they already know during individual training sessions, with just one puppy at a time, and practice commands that the puppies have already learned separately during training sessions with both puppies there also. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Thor and Loki's experience

Was this experience helpful?

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