How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking on Walks

Medium
2-16 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Taking your pooch for a walk should be a relaxing experience. Imagine yourself walking down a country lane with your family and friends, wind in your hair, relaxing noises of the birds and trees. But uh-oh, wait a minute, relaxing noises of the birds?! Your pooch hears them too-- he's a serial barker and won't stop! 

Suddenly, all the birds disappear and all you’re left with is the horrible whiney noise of your pooch barking non-stop. Not only is this a massive headache and all that you can now hear is your naughty pup barking and scaring the wildlife, your friends and relatives comment on how badly behaved he is--how embarrassing. To stop situations like this one occurring, read on for a few simple steps you can take to stop your pooch from ruining walks and days out.

Defining Tasks

Training your dog not to bark on walks will teach him some well-needed manners and obedience and make your life a lot less stressful. There are benefits to other animals as well, such as not disrupting wildlife and cats, which could become quite stressed at your dog's barks. Other dogs might also see this barking as a sign of aggression, especially when in close proximity to them. Another dog could snap and cause a fight with your pooch, potentially causing some serious injuries requiring veterinary attention. 

It is best to catch them early and teach your dog to stop barking on walks as soon as they have been vaccinated and the appropriate time has elapsed for their immune systems to process the vaccine, normally 1 week after the final vaccination of the course. This will be when they are able to start walking and be taught walking etiquette, including not barking constantly. Adult dogs can also be trained, however, this can be more difficult as this behavior could have been going on unchecked for years. Therefore, depending on the dog, this training can take weeks to months to learn.

Getting Started

To get started, teaching your dog the ‘heel’ command first can be useful, so that he walks in an orderly fashion at your heel to begin with, so they know that you’re the boss and what you say goes. This will help enforce your training and commanding them to stop barking. Treats are necessary, so that your pet has a tasty reward when he behaves himself and keeps quiet or stops the barking at your say so. Clickers are also good to signify to your pooch that he has performed the correct behavior, remember to give him a treat as well though. Make sure you have a collar or harness and lead that are appropriate for your pup's age and size before you get started.

The Under Control Method

ribbon-method-1
Most Recommended
3 Votes
Step
1
Get the right gear
Make sure your pooch's collar or harness fit well and is secure. This will help you to keep better control of your pup, especially if he tends to lunge. You can get special harnesses that don’t pull on your pup when he does this.
Step
2
Firm but not too tight
Holding your pooch too tightly will make him more likely to bark and lunge.
Step
3
Get him to heel
Getting your dog to heel will be a distraction from the barking behavior he's about to engage in. Controlling their movements often also controls their vocal cords.
Step
4
Reward for heeling
Give him a treat, and a click if you’re clicker training, for heeling and being quiet.
Step
5
Give him a challenge
If you add in challenges such as varying your speed, walking around obstacles and up and down stairs for example, this will get your dog to concentrate on what he’s doing and reduce barking.
Recommend training method?

The Desensitize to Dogs Method

ribbon-method-2
Effective
1 Vote
Step
1
Know his trigger
Although other dogs are the usual cause of barking on walks, know the trigger for your dog. This method is only useful if other dogs are the main issue.
Step
2
Use a barrier
When your pooch sees another dog and starts to play up, use yourself or another object as a barrier between your pooch and the dog of interest.
Step
3
Click and treat good behavior
Give your dog treats and a click if he notices another dog but doesn’t start barking.
Step
4
Desensitize him
Now he knows he’s rewarded for not barking at other dogs. Gradually move your dog closer to the other dog, giving treats every time you get closer and he doesn’t bark. This is best done with a friend or neighbor’s dog who you know is friendly.
Step
5
Keep at it
Be sure to practice in short, sharp bursts of no more than 15 minutes per day.
Recommend training method?

The Distraction Method

ribbon-method-3
Least Recommended
2 Votes
Step
1
Get his attention
When you see your dog about to start barking, capture his attention and stop him by calling his name and drawing him towards you, you can also use the command such as ‘look’, then give him a click and treat when he does this. It should take his attention off whatever was making him bark.
Step
2
Be consistent
Make sure if anyone else walks him, as he’s about to bark, they also use the ‘look’ command or call his name and give him a treat or he’ll slip back into bad habits in no time.
Step
3
Use open spaces
Somewhere open and uncrowded, quiet and free from distractions will be a better place to walk your pooch and will likely result in less bad barking behavior.
Step
4
Walk away from the distraction
Whether it’s a dog, cat, bird or person, walk in the opposite direction of the distraction and the barking should subside.
Step
5
Bring his favorite squeaky
Distract him when he’s about to bark with his favorite squeaky toy. For this step it is important that you recognize his triggers and do this before he starts barking or you will be rewarding bad behavior.
Recommend training method?
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Written by Catherine Lee-Smith

Published: 12/08/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Macy
Maltipoo
2 Years
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Question
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Macy
Maltipoo
2 Years

Little Macy used to be great on walks when she was a little puppy, but then COVID and lockdown hit and we really didn't take her out much at all. When we finally starting going regularly again she just could not handle all the stimulus and was extremely anxious. She exhibits anxious behaviours in other aspects of life, but we would love to start taking her out for walks again. She panic barks at everything and will not stop, is there a way to help her overcome this? Thank you!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
943 Dog owners recommended

Hello Caitlin, (great name haha) I would start by teaching the Quiet command. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark The Quiet command would help the underlying fear but it will help communication with pup, which is part of what's needed. I would also counter condition pup. I would start by just getting pup used to being outside in various locations first, without the overwhelming stimuli of constantly new things that happens with moving during the walk. Go sit outside for 45-60 minutes in various spots in your neighborhood. Take pup's favorite toys, treats, and a good book for you. Simply sit there. If pup will take food, work on commands or tricks pup knows to get them out of feeling fearful and into a working mindset, with something fun like food to get them excited and relaxed. If pup will play with toys, use a long training leash in these settings and play some short range tug or fetch type games. If the area is pesticide and chemical free (watch for pesticide treated lawns and gas or anti-freeze on driveways and roads), then hide some treats for pup to sniff out in easy locations. If pup won't play or eat, simply sit and let things be calm. Keep your attitude happy and confident. Don't act sorry for pup or angry. Act how you want pup to feel. Once pup can handle being outside in general, add short walks just the length of a house at the end of the sitting time, once pup is more familiar with the area. Start increasing the length of that walk gradually as pup's body language shows they are improving and staying more relaxed. Add one house at a time, instead of a long distance, or half a house if a whole house is too big too. Turn toward home while pup is still doing alright, so pup ends the walk feeling okay about the whole thing. When you come across things pup is unsure of, act enthusiastic, do a little dance, and reward pup with lots of treats BEFORE pup reacts poorly, to help pup decide initially that the new thing is good. You don't want to reward pup once they are already acting out though or you will be reinforcing that you want them to act that way. If pup acts out before you can catch them ahead of time, see if you can repeat the encounter and catch them sooner that time. For example, if you pass a holiday decoration that pup reacts toward, then walk pup out of sight, let them calm down, then pass that same decoration again intentionally on your way back. This time put more space between you and the decoration and get pup excited and focused on you as you pass. Do these passes a few times if pup is doing well. If pup wants to investigate the object, sprinkle treats around it or give treats to pup often for any curiosity, bravery, or calmness they show around that item. If pup is fearful and reactive to neighbors and other dogs, you can recruit others to practice these types of passes intentionally with you, where you can control the number of passes and distance because these are planned. Passing Approach method: https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Freddie
Cock-A-Poo
2 Years
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Question
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Freddie
Cock-A-Poo
2 Years

He is constantly whining, barking, and howling whilst on walks and is just uncontrollable especially when he sets the whole neighbourhood barking.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
943 Dog owners recommended

Eva, 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!). 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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLxB6gYsliI Finding his low 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. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Bailey
Cocker Spaniel
1 Year
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Question
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Bailey
Cocker Spaniel
1 Year

Hi there my spaniel has been to puppy school so we can do basic commands like sit, stand, lye down , roll over. She also attends doggy day care twice a week. However whenever we see a dog on a walk she starts barking and goes mad, the one day she was off lead outside our property and so was the neighbours dog and Bailey was chasing this dog trying to bite, the other dog was just running from her. I’m not sure if Bailey was too close to home that’s why she got so aggressive? Also if she’s on a lead and I see a neighbour, she will bark excessively while I stand and talk, and I cannot get her to keep quiet and becomes extremely unpleasant as she becomes a nuisance. Please advise.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
943 Dog owners recommended

Hello Claire, I suggest working on the structure of your walk first. You want pup to be working during the walk - having to stay behind you, focus on you, perform commands periodically, and not have her mind on scanning the area in search of other dogs. The walk should start with her having to exit your home very calmly, performing obedience commands at the door if she isn't calm. She should wait for permission ("Okay" or "Free" or "Let's Go") before going through the door instead of bolting through if that's an issue. When you walk she should be in the heel position - with her head behind your leg. That position decreases her arousal, reduces stress because she isn't the one in charge and the one encountering things first. It prevents her from scanning for other dogs, staring dogs down or being stared down, and ignoring you behind her. It also requires her to be in a more submissive, structured, focused, calmer mindset - which has a direct effect on how aroused, stressed, and aggressive she is - it makes her feel like the responsibility is on your shoulders not hers around other dogs. Additionally, when you do pass other dogs, as soon as she starts staring them down or barking, interrupt her. Don't tolerate challenging stares - even if she is stressed. Remind her with a gentle correction that you are leading the walk and she is not allowed to break her heel or stare another dog down. It is far easier to deal with reactivity when you interrupt a dog early in the process - before they are highly aroused and full of adrenaline and cortisol, and to keep the dog in a less aroused/calmer state to begin with. This also makes the walk more pleasant for her in the long-run. Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Reactive dog - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XY8s_MlqDNE Severely aggressive dog – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfiDe0GNnLQ&t=259s Outside of the walk you can work on building pup's trust and respect for you in other ways too. It sounds like she could be possessive of your or your home. The following commands and exercises are also good for building trust and respect, which is part of how those things are addressed. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Working, Consistency, and Obedience methods - options for ways to build respect calmly. Stimulating pup mentally and being very consistent with rules and follow through are some of the best ways to earn respect and trust. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you A long down stay around distractions is a good thing to practice during walks periodically also. If she does do okay when actually meeting the dog up-close when on leash, I would desensitize her to seeing other dogs on the walk by doing the below. You can recruit friends with calm dogs and use the Passing Approach and the Walking together methods from the article linked below. After a few practice session of this, when the dogs can calmly walk side by side finally, take pups on walks together with both in a structured, focused heel. This gives both dogs something other than each other to focus on, keeps their energy calm, and helps them associate each other with the pleasant experience of a walk. Repeat this with lots of different dogs, one or two dogs at a time - you want other dogs to be associated with calmness, pleasant experiences, and boring things - not roughhousing, wrestling, nose-to-nose interactions always, or being rushed by them. https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs Sometimes you can even find others to practice with through obedience clubs, meetup groups, or hiking groups. If pup can't meet other dogs without aggression also, I would see if there is a G.R.O.W.L. class in your area to join with her. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Max
German Shepherd
9 Months
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Question
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Max
German Shepherd
9 Months

Trying to walk him anywhere once he sees someone or animal he barks an drags me

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
943 Dog owners recommended

Hello Michelle, Is pup aggressive toward others or overly excited to meet them? If aggressive I recommend desensitizing pup to wearing a basket muzzle to keep others safe, but also to ensure pup can't redirect their aggression toward you while aroused. Muzzle introduction video - do this gradually over the course of 1-2 weeks, going at the pace pup is comfortable with and having pup wear the muzzle at times other than just the walk, so its not just associated with the walk and seeing others. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJTucFnmAbw&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=6&t=0s For the walk itself, I suggest working on the structure of your walk first. You want pup to be working during the walk - having to stay behind you, focus on you, perform commands periodically, and not have his mind on scanning the area in search of other dogs. If you cannot physically restrain pup, then I would use a no-pull training device as well, to ensure pup cannot physically pull you over. Make sure you watch videos or read instructions on how to use this properly, many like prong collars of gentle leaders are not fitted and used correctly, and that is important not only for effectiveness but also safety. The no-pull device won't fix the underlying issue, but is simply a safety measure to allow you to train with less risk and communicate better with pup while you are working on the underlying behavior. The walk should start with him having to exit your home very calmly, performing obedience commands at the door if he isn't calm. He should wait for permission ("Okay" or "Free" or "Let's Go") before going through the door instead of bolting through if that's an issue. When you walk he should be in the heel position - with his head behind your leg. That position decreases his arousal, reduces stress because he isn't the one in charge and the one encountering things first. It prevents him from scanning for other dogs, staring dogs down or being stared down, and ignoring you behind him. It also requires him to be in a more submissive, structured, focused, calmer mindset - which has a direct effect on how aroused, stressed, and aggressive he is - it makes him feel like the responsibility is on your shoulders not his around other dogs. Additionally, when you do pass other dogs, as soon as he starts staring them down, interrupt him. Don't tolerate challenging stares at other dogs. Remind him with a fair correction that you are leading the walk and he is not allowed to break his heel or stare another dog down. It is far easier to deal with reactivity when you interrupt a dog early in the process - before they are highly aroused and full of adrenaline and cortisol, and to keep the dog in a less aroused/calmer state to begin with. This also makes the walk more pleasant for him in the long-run. Leading the walk this way can actually boost a dog's confidence in the long run around other dogs because the dog feels like you will handle the situation so they can relax. Be picky about which dogs he greets. Avoid nose-to-nose greetings dogs who lack manners. A simple "He's in training" tends to work well. Be picky about who and how he meets other dogs. Avoid dogs that don't respect his space, pull their owners over to her, and generally are not listening well - those dogs are often friendly but they are rude and difficult for some to meet on leash. Also, avoid greeting dogs who look very tense around your dog, who stare him down, who give warning signs like a low growl or lip lift, who look very puffed up and proud - that type greeting with a dog is likely to end in a fight since your dog doesn't know how to diffuse that situation. A stiff wag is also a bad sign. A friendly wag looks relaxed and loose with relaxed body language overall. A tense dog with a very stiff wag, especially with a tail held high is a sign of arousal and not always a good thing. Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Reactive dog - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XY8s_MlqDNE If the aggression is severe, you cannot train safely, you feel overwhelmed, things aren't improving, there has been a bite, or you feel overwhelmed, I would also find a trainer or behaviorist in your area who specializes in behavior issues like reactivity and aggression, and has access to other well mannered dogs and a team or second trainer, so that you can set up controlled training scenarios to practice the training with less risk and more consistency, to see progress more quickly. For dogs who are reactive but not aggressive toward people, a G.R.O.W.L. class can also be helpful, specifically for the dog reactivity. In a G.R.O.W.L. class pup is intensively socialized with other dogs in a structured way through things like heeling, while all the dogs are wearing a basket muzzle for safety. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Moggie
Westie
10 Years
0 found helpful
Question
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Moggie
Westie
10 Years

Lately while walking he goes mental barking and trying to run after a ‘trailer’ when one passes . This has only just started happening over last few months

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
943 Dog owners recommended

Hello Geraldine, What type of trailer is it? Could you borrow, buy, or rent a similar trailer yourself? If so, I would get a trailer yourself, then work on commands like Leave It, Quiet, and Heel, then desensitize pup to the trailer, starting from a distance with the trailer stationary, rewarding pup for paying attention to you, ignoring the trailer, interacting with it calmly, or obeying commands like Heel as you walk past it. Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Heel- Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Come - Reel in method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Practice until pup is completely calm around the trailer and finds it boring. Next, decrease either the distance between you and the trailer or increase the movement of the trailer slightly with someone else's help to pull the trailer as you walk past at a distance. Start very, very slow from far enough away that pup can focus back on you with a little help getting his attention again. As pup improves, you will gradually reward pup for obeying commands like Heel and Leave It around the trailer, as you gradually decrease the distance between pup and the trailer and increase the movement of the trailer, until pup can finally handle the trailer doing what it does on the trail around pup. At that point, practice on the trail also, with someone else's help with your trailer, so that you can control the situation and help pup get good at being calm around a trailer before you encounter one in everyday life again. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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