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

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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.
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The Desensitize to Dogs Method

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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.
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The Distraction Method

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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?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Beau
Schnoodle
17 Weeks
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Question
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Beau
Schnoodle
17 Weeks

She's amazing for everything thing else really fast learner however soon as I open the door she barks and barks. My friends and family say she's got to stop barking, as its not just at dogs its people and bikes to. And if a person stops to say hello she growls and runs away. We've tried everything from her favourite treats to cooked chicken, distracting it isn't working. Its really embarrassing. Id love to have her well focused, trained and be allowed to be off lead, Thankyou

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
706 Dog owners recommended

Hello Becky, First, 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 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. Once pup is calmer in general after the initial training, practice exposing her a lot to the things that trigger the barking normally (make a list - even if it's long). Whenever she DOESN'T bark around something that she normally would have, calmly praise and reward her throughout the day to continue the desensitization process. I also recommend joining a puppy class with her. It sounds like pup is also in need of a lot of socialization and is barking because she is overly excited or more likely fearful of the new things outside. Focus a lot on taking pup new places, having friends and family toss her treats from a distance she is comfortable with when she is quiet for even a second, and getting outside a lot with her, to help the newness of the outside world become more normal. Right now, you might want to look for a puppy class held in a fenced area outside in your city. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Ellis Patten
malshipoo
9 Months
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Question
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Ellis Patten
malshipoo
9 Months

She is the perfect puppy in every way, responsive, obedient and so gentle with people and dogs. The only issue we have is she has taken to barking almost constantly on walks in our local area. (She doesn’t bark nearly at much when we venture to new areas)This can be at people or dogs or a random noise and when she starts she won’t stop. We’ve tried the distraction with treats method and the attempt at making her do a trick (she can do middle very well). It isn’t every dog or person though it’s just random - she can see them from a mile away and still react so it’s not as though they startle her. I just need to find a way to get her out of the habit as it is becoming embarrassing when she is such a good dog in every other way. Please if you could offer any advice or training methods that may help stop this behaviour, I would be so grateful. Thanks Ellis & Coco x

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
706 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ellis, I would try one of two things. First, check out the video linked below. If she will take treats during these times, work on desensitizing her to the triggers, like people. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JY7JrteQBOQ Second, if you can't get pup to stop barking long enough to even reward, you will need to interrupt the barking first. Once the barking is interrupted and she is quiet, then you can work on desensitizing like the video above. To interrupt, I recommend first teaching pup a Quiet command. Practice that at home. Once pup knows that command well, when she starts to bark, command quiet, and if she doesn't stop, briefly spray a small puff of air from a pet convincer at her side using the unscented air ones (not citronella, its too harsh, and Never in the face!). After she gets quiet for a second due to the surprise of the convincer, quickly start practicing obedience with her to get her focus back on you and what to do, and reward heavily for being in a calmer mindset again, focusing back on you, and staying quiet around people and other triggers. A good obedience exercise to practice is heeling with lots of turns and changes in pace quickly for a few minutes. You want it to be enough changes quickly that pup has to focus on keeping up with you and not on other things for a few minutes. Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Buddy
Jack Russell Terrier
7 Months
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Question
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Buddy
Jack Russell Terrier
7 Months

Hello my issue is every time I take buddy on a walk soon as I leave the house he’s whining and barking and soon as I see someone he will bark even more iv tried with heel and rewarding him but he dose not seem to listen iv tried shortening his lead And that has not worked either my other problem is when I’m in the house I leave him in the living room and he will whine and while till I come back even if there is someone else In there with him he will still carry on how can I stop this

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
131 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Your dog needs to learn new behaviors to quell his fear. First we reduce his fear around new dogs or people, and then we begin adding cues such as “watch me” or “sit.” The tips below can be used towards dogs, humans, or anything else he may be reactive to. Research tells us that most leash reactivity is caused by fear, not by aggression. Dogs bark and lunge at other dogs to warn, “Go away! Go away!” Dogs fear other dogs because of genetic reasons, lack of socialization, fights when they were puppies, or any scary (to the dog) interaction with other dogs. Sometimes having low thyroid levels contributes to unwanted canine behavior. During this time, avoid any punishment for reactivity. Doing so will make his concerns even bigger. Dogs learn by making associations, and you want your dog to associate other dogs with pleasant things — never punishment. The first step is to reframe what an oncoming dog means to your dog. From a safe distance — your dog determines the distance, not you — have your leashed dog view another dog. As the new dog comes into view, drop a lot of enticing meat treats just in front of your dog’s nose. Ignore any hysterics for now, but back up and create more space if your dog is unwilling to eat. This part is hard for humans — I understand. It helps to see your dog’s behavior for what it most likely is: fear vs. disobedience. The training reinforcer MUST be a great one, such as real meat. It is critical that the appearance of the new dog causes meat to fall from the sky. When the other dog is out of your dog’s view, all treats stop. We want your dog to predict that other dogs near him means that YUMMY FOOD will appear! As you are reframing your dog’s opinion of seeing other leashed dogs, be careful where you take your dog, and be protective of what she is exposed to. One fight can create a reactive dog. Consider not walking your dog for 30 days as you reprogram her opinions of other dogs. Instead, sit on your front porch or in your garage (or somewhere out of the way if those two options aren't possible) with your dog on leash, and practice treating every time another dog comes into your dog’s line of sight. During this time, engage your dog’s mind with mind puzzles, obedience work, and fun stuff like games in the house or yard. You know you have made great progress when your dog sees another dog, and he turns his head away from the once-threatening dog and looks into your eyes, expecting a treat. Once your dog is looking at her (former) trigger and then looking expectantly up at you for a treat, you can begin to put this skill on cue. Tell your dog "watch me" every time you see another dog approaching. Your end goal is for your dog to see another dog, and remain calm, looking at you for guidance. And this will be either continuing your walk, or being allowed to interact with the other dog. Please let me know if you have additional questions. Thanks for writing in!

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Question
Duke
Cocker Spaniel
4 Years
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Question
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Duke
Cocker Spaniel
4 Years

My sister bought Duke when he was a puppy just barely old enough to leave his mom and has been with my sister since then. My 3 children and myself have had duke come and spend the weekends with us since he was a baby. Recently, about two months ago duke came to live with us in our apartment. It has been a joy to have Duke with us. Duke is very loving, especially with children. Dukes listens very well. My biggest obstacle right now is taking duke for walks. Duke barks at everyone and everything very loudly and its very hard to calm him down. He has never tried to bite anybody. Duke has a very deep bark, you would think that this bark is coming from a rather big dog. Duke is about 25 30 lbs. When Duke was living with my sister, he was a house dog. My sister never took duke for walks, he just went around the yard. duke pretty much just stayed at home and that is all he has known. Now that duke is living with us and we live in an apartment, we have to take duke on frequent walks and to go potty. Because of all the crazy barking and not being able to control this behavior, my children and myself hesitate when its time to walk or go potty. Any suggestions?

Thank you for your time

Sandra Groom

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
706 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sandra, It sounds like he may be overly suspicious or fearful due to a lack of socialization. I would work on desensitizing him and helping him overcome fears. Check out the video series linked below and the desensitization method from the article I have linked below. Desensitization method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Barking series - especially "Barking at noises"," dogs behind fences", "strangers", and "scary objects" I would recommend for you https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Bucky
Labrador Retriever
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
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Bucky
Labrador Retriever
2 Years

When our dog walker comes to the house to walk the dogs, Bucko barks like a maniac the entire time she is trying to hook the dogs up and continues until they start walking down the sidewalk. He does not do this when i walk him. How can we get him to stop?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
706 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lindsey, I suggest practicing the video protocol from the link below with the walker. Pay your walker to come at some times when you are home and can practice the training together during the paid walk session, instead your walker taking pup on a walk during the walk session. Expect this to take more than one sessions though. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpzvqN9JNUA Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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