How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking on Walks

How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking on Walks
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon2-16 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

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.

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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.

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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.

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The Under Control Method

Most Recommended

3 Votes

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3 Votes

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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.

2

Firm but not too tight

Holding your pooch too tightly will make him more likely to bark and lunge.

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.

4

Reward for heeling

Give him a treat, and a click if you’re clicker training, for heeling and being quiet.

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.

The Desensitize to Dogs Method

Effective

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Effective

1 Vote

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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.

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.

3

Click and treat good behavior

Give your dog treats and a click if he notices another dog but doesn’t start barking.

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.

5

Keep at it

Be sure to practice in short, sharp bursts of no more than 15 minutes per day.

The Distraction Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

By Catherine Lee-Smith

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

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Cinnamon

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Cocker Spaniel

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6mths

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Question

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My pup gets 3 walks a day. She barks and pulls on the leash the whole walk. The barking starts at the front door. There are no distractions, no other dogs. No reason for it. She is best off leash and comes after recall each time. The leash is on her collar, just a leather one. And she’s always been like this, it’s beyond ridiculous. And she has had training from day one and also 6wks of pro training… this barking started after the pro training and we are sick of it. We go for a family walk and if anyone of us is a few ft away and she’s on leash, she barks and pulls us. It hurts! Help!

July 31, 2022

Cinnamon's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, There are a few reasons for a dog barking at other dogs on a walk. Pup may be becoming overly aroused, which is generally addressed with structured obedience to help pup learn self-control and to condition a calmer response, and respect building for you. Check out the following resources for commands and structure to work on with pup. 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 A dog may also bark simply because they find the act of barking itself fun. Barking is a self-rewarding behavior due the chemicals released in a dog's brain while they bark, that can make the dog feel a certain way and feed into even more barking. When pup is barking for the fun of barking and getting aroused, I recommend interrupting the barking, while rewarding quiet instead. I suspect pup finding the barking fun and pup becoming overly aroused may be what's going on in this case. First, 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. Regardless of which reason pup is barking, I would actually teach pup Quiet in general, simply to increase the communication between you and pup. 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 is one example 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 pause the barking then calm back down. (Don't use citronella and avoid spraying in the face!). 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, and even if you are simply exposing her to putting the leash on, walking to your door together, going in and out of the front door, seeing a squirrel, seeing someone in your family walking nearby, ect...). Whenever she DOESN'T bark around something that she normally would have, calmly praise and reward her to continue the desensitization process. This will take a lot of repetition, walking to the door and away from the door over and over again, having a family member walk past over and over again, bringing out the leash then putting it away over and over again - rewarding those quiet responses and interrupting the loud ones as you practice those baby steps. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Aug. 1, 2022

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Dolly

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Goldendoodle

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10 Months

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My goldendoodle, Dolly, is 10 1/2 months and about 20 pounds. She has this issue when she walks in my parent’s neighborhood, which is frequently, of acting high strung and anxious. Barking and whining and biting my parent’s dog’s leash. She doesn’t do that when I walk her in my neighborhood. Along with that consistent barking and whining, when she then sees another dog or squirrel or something it becomes insane. The no bark collar I got seemed to work for a while but now I don’t find it works. I also use a prong collar for the pulling, which helps there a bit.

June 11, 2022

Dolly's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kristen, It sounds like the interruption of the prong collar probably also needs to be combined with gradual desensitization and rewards for that. Check out the desensitization method from this article: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Check out this video series, it has a lot of examples of desensitizing and counter conditioning. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a The interruption of something like a prong should just be so that pup can be receptive enough to intentionally practice things like heel and quiet, and then reward pup's calm responses and obedience in place of the reactive behavior pup was previously displaying. I would also see if there is a G.R.O.W.L. class in your area, which is a class for dog reactive/aggressive toward, intended to help those dogs socializes and get desensitized to other dogs in the structured environment of the class, under the supervision of a trainer familiar with aggression and reactivity, and with safety measures like basket muzzles on the dogs. I would recommend desensitizing pup to a muzzle gradually ahead of time so that wearing that is something that feels normal for pup. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

June 13, 2022


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