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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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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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Bella

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Bull Terrier

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1 Year

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Question

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My pup barks excessively when she’s in her crate and no one is giving her attention - even if no one is in the room but she knows someone is home

Jan. 11, 2022

Bella's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello Savannah, If it's during the first two weeks home with you she may just need time to adjust. If it's during the first two weeks, check out the Surprise method from the article linked below and work on that method to get her used to you being out of the room while she is crated. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate If it's past 2-4 weeks or you can't wait for her to adjust on her own due to neighbors before 2 weeks, then I suggest the following. There are a couple of routes you can take with the separation anxiety. The first step is to work on building her independence and her confidence by adding a lot of structure and predictability into her routine. Things such as making her work for rewards like meals, walks, and pets. Working on "Stay" and "Place," commands while you move away or leave the room, and teaching her to remain inside a crate when the door is open. Change your routine surrounding leaving so that she does not anticipate alone time and build up her anxiety before you leave - which is hard for her to deescalate from, and be sure to continue to give her something to do in the crate during the day (such as a dog food stuffed Kong to chew on); 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 separation anxiety. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ 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 her independence and structure in her life will still be an important part of this protocol too. First, check out this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3j882MAYDU You could purchase a remote electronic collar, e-collar, with a wide range of levels. I recommend purchasing only a high quality brand with at least 60 levels, such as 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 her. 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 her but she 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 her while she is outside of the crate, standing, and relaxed. Turn it to it's lowest level and push the stimulation button twice. See if she responds to the collar at all (if you use a collar like mini educator, most pup's can't even feel the first few levels out of the 100 levels - you are trying to find the level where she begins to feel it without going too high for her). Look for subtle signs such as turning her head, moving her ears, biting her fur, moving away from where she was, or changing her expression. If she does not respond at all, then go up one level on the collar and when she 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 her reaction at that level until she indicates a little bit that she 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 she 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 her and have it correctly fitted on her, have her 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 her while she is in the crate. Put her into the crate while she is wearing the collar and leave. Spy on her from outside. Leave however you normally would. As soon as you hear her barking or see her start to try to escape or destroy the crate from the camera, push the stimulation button once. Every time she barks or tries to get out of the crate, stimulate her collar again. If her fur is long, make sure the metal contact points are both touching her skin, and be sure to order longer contact points - many come with a short and long set). If she does not decrease her 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. She 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 she has not learned what she is supposed to be doing yet. For example, if her level is 16 out of 100 levels on the Mini Educator, don't go past level 19 right now. The level you end up using on her on the mini educator collar will probably be low to medium, within the first fifty 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 her before proceeding at a higher level. If she 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 her from outside when she barks or tries to escape, going back inside and sprinkling treats when she stays quiet, for up to 30 minutes at first. After 30 minutes -1 hour of practicing this, when she is quiet, go back inside and sprinkle more treats. This time stay inside. Do not speak to her or pay attention to her for ten minutes while you walk around and get stuff done inside. When she is being calm, then you can let her out of the crate. When you let her 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 her to be calm when she comes out of the crate and to stay calm when you get home. That is why you need to ignore her when you get home right away. Also, keep your good byes extremely boring and calm. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5GqzeLzysk Also, put a food stuffed Kong into the crate with her. Once she is less anxious she will likely enjoy it even if she didn't pay any attention to it in the past, and that will help her to enjoy the crate more. First, she may need her anxious state of mind interrupted so that she is open to learning other ways to behave. Once it's interrupted, give her a food stuffed Kong in the crate for her to relieve her boredom instead of barking, since she will need something other than barking to do at that point. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Jan. 11, 2022

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Ellie

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Dalmatian

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1 Year

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She keeps barking, and even when we try ignoring her she continues to bark. We've tried spraying her with water or flicking her nose whenever she barks, but she continues to even if she just ate.

Jan. 10, 2022

Ellie's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Micah, 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, your water bottle, and a remote training collar are examples 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!). Pup may need an interrupter that you can use without giving additional attention first. For this use, I would use something like a remote training collar with a tone, vibrate, and stimulation setting. The tone setting could be used every time you tell pup Quiet, so pup learns to associate tone with Quiet also. The vibration or stimulation setting would then be used to correct pup when they don't respond to your verbal or tone Quiet reminder first. Vibration is sometimes effective for this, but some dogs find it harsher than stimulation, or they just ignore it. Stimulation in a high quality collar should have at least 60 levels, so you can choose a level that's neither too harsh nor so subtle pup ignores or doesn't feel it. This is called finding pup's working level. This working level should be found ahead of time before you start any additional training other than the use of tone setting use. Have pup wear the collar around for a few days with it turned off, then in a calm room without a lot of distractions. To find the right working level for pup, check out the video I have linked below. I only recommend using a high quality collar if you use a remote training collar for an interrupter; brands such as dogtra, e-collar technologies, garmen, or sportdog. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM Finally, when pup barks, tell pup quiet or use the collar remote to make the collar beep. If pup gets quiet, reward after pup has stayed quiet for a couple of minutes. If pup barks anyway or within five minutes or being told quiet with your voice or the collar, then you could correct with the collar set to pup's working level. Practicing this at home with things you can control, then beginning to practice in real life scenarios, starting with less exciting situations first and working up to situations where pup is more worked up as pup improves. As pup improves, wait until pup has stayed quiet for longer and longer before rewarding, then only reward pup when you catch them not barking at all and being calm, like lying down on their bed calmly or waiting patiently for something. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Additionally, I would work on finding more ways to stimulate pup mentally through having 15-45 minutes of training practice a day, incorporating training into pup's day by giving pup commands to earn things they want, like Sit before petting, Down before throwing a toy, Wait before setting down a meal, ect...Or starting some training games or k9sports, or feeding pup part of their meal kibble in puzzle toys, kongs, kong wobbles, and as treats pup earns. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Jan. 10, 2022


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