How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking in the Yard

Hard
3-12 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

You dread certain times of day, such as 10 am when the mailman calls. Regular as clockwork, you can guarantee that the dog will erupt into a volley of ear-splitting barking as the man in blue walks up the path. There are other times too, such as when the school bus stops at the end of the street, when you brace yourself for barking. 

Not only does the barking disturb your karma, but the neighbors are getting angsty about it. They have a young baby, and it seems each time they've just got the little one off to sleep, your barking dog rudely awakes her.  They have a point really, because you don't like the barking either, but what can you do about it?

You've been told that breed is a barker and nothing will stop him once the habit starts. You're inclined to agree as no matter how loud you shout at the dog, he ignores you and carries on woofing. 

If this scenario sounds familiar, then don't worry because you can do something to stop it. Yes, it does take time, and no, it isn't easy, but you will get there in the end when you know what to do. 

Defining Tasks

Barking is best tackled in a multi-modal way. By this we mean it's helpful to reduce the triggers for barking, while also putting "Quiet" on command, and giving the dog plenty to occupy mind and body so he doesn't have the energy to spare for barking.

However, what's even better is if the dog never gets into bad habits in the first place. This means not leaving the dog outside in the yard as a means of exercising himself, as he'll only get up to mischief and you guessed it...bark! 

Getting Started

To break the habit of barking in the yard, you'll need a change of habits, in addition to some basic training equipment:

  • Walking shoes, collar, and leash: These are for all those lovely long walks the dog is now going to get.
  • Balls and frisbees:  Great toys for increasing the dog's activity and hopefully tiring him out.
  • Solid fencing: If the dog barks at the street, then look at providing a solid fence so he doesn't see people walking by.
  • Training treats: You may need super-tasty treats in order to break the concentration of a determined barker.
  • Time and patience: Lots and lots of patience. 

The Treat the Root Cause Method

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0 Votes
Step
1
Understand the idea
Dogs bark for all sorts of reasons. The yard is a particular flashpoint because it's where the dog's territory meets the outside world. Typical triggers include people walking on the sidewalk or noises made by neighbors. Digging deeper still, many dogs bark because they are bored or have too much energy. A combination of reducing flashpoints and keeping the dog's mind busy can make a big difference.
Step
2
Work out the flashpoints
Study your dog's barking habits for a day or two. Make a note of the occasions on which he barked, and looked for a specific cause such as the mailman walking up the drive, school kids walking past, or the neighbor's cat free-ranging and teasing him.
Step
3
Eliminate the flashpoints
Blocking the dog's view of the street is highly effective at reducing his instinct to defend his territory. When he doesn't see people walking past, he's less likely to become over-aroused and indulge in a barking festival. Of course, it might not be possible to block the view entirely, in which case consider keeping the dog indoors when the mailman is due or the school turns out.
Step
4
Tire the dog out
A dog that's expected to exercise himself in the yard, is likely to be bored...or at least find ways of amusing himself (such as barking or digging) that aren't acceptable to us. Only let the dog out for brief periods of time to toilet, and if necessary, keep him on the leash so you have him under control. Start a new regime of vigorous exercise where you take the dog for long walks (appropriate to his fitness level and size) to burn off energy with games of tug or fetch. A tired dog is a lot less likely to expend energy by barking in the yard.
Step
5
Mental stimulation
Taking the idea of boredom barking further, it's helpful to provide plenty of mental stimulation to keep his mind busy. This can be basic obedience training, perhaps two, five to ten-minute sessions a day. This makes the dog concentrate, which in return relaxes his mind. You can try using puzzle feeders, so he has to work out how to get his chow, and teach him new tricks such as 'high five'. His newfound sense of purpose will reduce the need his need to bark.
Recommend training method?

The 'Quiet' Command Method

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Step
1
Understand the idea
Putting a behavior on cue, such as teaching 'bark' and quiet', gives you the ability to control that behavior. By rewarding the dog's silence, he learns there is an advantage to him responding to your request. In turn, you can quiet a noisy dog on command.
Step
2
Teach the dog 'bark'
First, teach the dog the 'bark' command. This is easy, since when he starts to bark say "bark". Then offer him a treat as a reward. This may sound bonkers, but the clever bit comes in the next step.
Step
3
Take advantage of the treat
While the dog is eating the reward for barking, he'll be silent. As he's chomping on the treat say "quiet" and give him another treat. Some people reinforce this by holding the dog's muzzle so that he's physically unable to bark and then saying "quiet". What you're aiming to do is teach the dog that "quiet" means the absence of barking and gets a reward.
Step
4
Practice 'bark' and 'quiet'
It's essential to practice several times a day. Try knocking on a door behind your back, to trigger barking, in order to use the "Bark" command. If the dog prefers barking to the treat, then up the ante by producing a super-tasty treat that the dog just can't resist. Also, try scattering the treats on the ground, as he'll be quiet as he sniffs them out to eat.
Step
5
Know when to draw the line
A dog that is really riled will have difficulty hearing your command and will carry on barking. Rather than wear out the command by repeating it with no response, adopt another tactic. If necessary, bring the dog indoors, thus removing him from temptation.
Recommend training method?

The What NOT to Do Method

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Step
1
Don't leave the dog in the yard
Barking is self-rewarding, therefore it's important to reduce the opportunity for the dog to indulge in his noisy habit. This means not leaving the dog unattended in the yard, especially for hours on end, when boredom may make him seek reasons to exercise his bark.
Step
2
Don't shout at the dog to be quiet
Games are more fun when played with a friend. When you shout at the dog, to the canine ear it sounds like you're joining in. The dog will be thrilled by your participation and enjoy showing exactly how barking should be done. In short, shouting rewards the dog, rather than punishes him, so just don't do it.
Step
3
Don't use shock collars
It might be tempting to use a remote punishment, such as a shock collar, to reduce his barking. However, please resist this urge. Unless the timing of the shock is impeccable, the dog may well not understand why he is in pain and this will make him generally cowed and anxious. Indeed, the use of shock collars is morally questionable, and there is little justification for resorting to one.
Step
4
Don't overuse 'quiet'
Allow the dog some time to bark, in order to get it out of his system. If the dog fails to respond to 'quiet', don't' repeatedly holler the command at him, as he'll tune out and become oblivious to the command. Instead, trying distracting him by scattering treats on the ground for him to sniff out, and interrupt the barking.
Step
5
Don't expect a quick fix
Teaching a dog not to bark in the yard takes considerable time and effort. It means a change in routine so the dog gets plenty of exercise, along with a consistent response when the dog does bark. Because barking is self-rewarding, it's going to take a lot of patience and repetition before the dog eventually learns to keep his opinion to himself.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Leo, Sam, Po and Luna
Labrador Retriever
8 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Leo, Sam, Po and Luna
Labrador Retriever
8 Years

Hello, my dogs have been barking a lot lately at my neighbor and I just want then to not bark at them anymore. I’ve tried walking them more and telling them to quiet down calmly. My dogs are Leo (lab/chow) 8 years, Sam( lab/husky) 7 years, Po and Luna (dachshund/ border collie) 4 years. It works on Po and Luna, but Leo and Sam still bark. Also, Leo’s mane comes up whenever my neighbor happens to walk by. They’re only outside when it’s time to potty, otherwise they’re fairly quiet. Is it too late to train them?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
671 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jane, It's not too late but it will take a bit more work on your end and how hard it will be depends on their level of socialization around people - are they fearful of strangers or aggressive toward them? Or just reacting due to excitement or the person being close to their territory? There are two routes to take here. The first is to desensitize pups to your neighbor. This will be considerably easier if your neighbor likes dogs and is willing to help. If not, you will just have to be vigilant to work on this whenever the opportunity is present, and recruit a friend the dogs don't know to be a stand-in neighbor at a different part of the fence (obviously not in your neighbor's yard), but still outside the fence, so that you can set up training sessions often. The second option is to use a bark collar so that pup is interrupted for their barking, then reward for a calm response instead barking once pup gets quiet - including both types of training. Check out the article linked below on desensitizing pup to something behind a fence. The article is about a dog barking at another dog behind the fence but the basic method is the same whether it's a person or dog behind the fence. If your neighbor is willing to help, they can toss treats over the fence instead of you handing them to pup when pup reacts calmly and quietly. Do not reward the reactivity or barking though - only calmness and quietness. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3n_fPKPLA2g&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=11&t=51s I suggest practicing this with each dog one at a time, then when all are doing well separately, practice with two dogs together, then finally all three. You may need to take pups potty on leash in the front yard for a bit to prevent poor reactions during potty trips at times when you aren't prepared to train - so that you don't undo your training efforts. Keeping treats on hand for all potty breaks (by having a small ziplock by the door that you can grab quickly), will help you be prepared to train in real life scenarios that come up whenever you take them potty and the neighbor happens to come out though. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Artemi
Australian Cattle Dog border collie
9 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Artemi
Australian Cattle Dog border collie
9 Months

Artemi likes to bark at the neighbors walking by our house especially the children which has resulted in my family getting nasty letters from neighbors.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
671 Dog owners recommended

Hello Nicole, First, for the barking, I suggest combining a few things in your case. You need a way to communicate with him 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 - which will be a form of punishment - neither too harsh nor ineffective. An e-collar or Pet Convincer are two of the most effective types of interrupter for most dogs. 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!). An e-collar, aka remote training collar, uses stimulation to interrupt the dog. Only use a high quality e-collar for this, such as E-collar technologies mini educator, Dogtra, SportDog, or Gamin. A good collar should have at least 40 levels, the more levels the more accurately you can train - finding the lowest level your dog will respond to, called a "Working level" so the training is less adverse. In situations where you know pup will bark or is already barking (catch them before they bark if you can), 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. Repeat the correction each time they bark until you get a brief pause in the barking. When they pause, praise and reward then. 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. Most bark training only gives part of that equation. Fitting an e-collar - it should be put on while he is calm, just standing around - Ideally have him wear the collar around for a while before starting any training so he won't associate the training with the collar but just with his barking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLxB6gYsliI Finding the level to use for him (sometimes you will have to go 1 or 2 levels higher during training while the dog is aroused but once he improves you can usually decrease back to his normal level again) - this training level is called a dog's "Working level": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM Once pup is calmer in general after the initial training, practice exposing him a lot to the things that trigger the barking normally (make a list - even if it's long). Whenever he DOESN'T bark around something that he normally would have, calmly praise and reward him to continue the desensitization process. An automatic bark collar can also be used during times when he likes to bark while you aren't there after the initial training is done - so he understands that the correction is for his barking at that point in the training. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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