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 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 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 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.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Benny
cockapoo
9 Months
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Question
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Benny
cockapoo
9 Months

At home, our 9-month-old cockapoo behaves perfectly; however, on a walk, he turns crazy. Whenever we encounter another dog, he becomes out of control. He cannot focus on anything other than the dog, and screeches and jumps around. When allowed to stop and sniff the other dog, he calms down and it seems as though he just wants to say hello. However, we cannot always spend time meeting the other dogs, and quite frankly, the walks are becoming unenjoyable for both of us.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
416 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ellie, Check out the videos below explaining leash reactivity and demonstrating how to work with a dog. (This trainer can be a bit blunt with his people teaching style, but he has a lot of experience with highly reactive and aggressive dogs). The behavior you are dealing with would be called leash reactivity (which is different than leash aggression since it doesn't lead to fights on his end): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXLPwyKEjHI&t=14s https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGofhEc1YPg&t=305s Note, that the fixated, aroused mindset is interrupted very early on, before the dog explodes, as soon as he starts to fixate. The entire walk is also structured so that the dog is working to focus on their person and not on other things they shouldn't be reacting towards. Starting the walk off right and having the dog walk slightly behind you puts the dog into a following mindset, calms them down, and prevents him from constantly scanning the area looking for dogs and working himself up during the walk. Finally, I do not recommend nose to nose greetings right now. Tell others that you are "in training" if they ask to let the dogs meet. Instead, join a dog walking group, walk with friends and their well behaved dogs with the dogs in a structured heel, or join an obedience class, to practice calmness around other dogs and not over arousal and extreme excitement. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Mia
Australian Eskimo
6 Months
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Question
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Mia
Australian Eskimo
6 Months

I have been teaching my puppy "quiet" when we're at home and it's slowly working, but has no affect on her outside. When out in public (mostly on walks), she always barks at other dogs and people. It's very obnoxious and embarrassing. I also know I need to get her more socialized with other dogs, but it seems that she's a little scared of them once she actually encounters one. I would eventually like to teach her to speak on command as well. She wears a harness which has helped a bit with her pulling, but she still walks very quickly and excitedly. I know she's still young too, but do you have any suggestions?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
416 Dog owners recommended

Hello Marissa, I suggest working on desensitizing her to the things he is afraid of and barking at. Continue working on Quiet because just like any other command she needs to work up to being able to do it around distractions, so she needs to practice it around gradually harder and harder distractions - starting with easier distractions first. Desensitization 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jp_l9C1yT1g&list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a Desensitization 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5BjvNScFPs&list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a&index=2 Desensitization 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JY7JrteQBOQ&list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a&index=3 Desensitization 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXCELHDT2fs&list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a&index=4 Desensitization 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxPrNnulp5s You can use the Quiet method from the article linked below to teach him Speak also. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark The fact that she is nervous around other dogs suggests she needs more socialization, I suggest reaching out to any friends with puppies and setting up play dates with as many different puppies as you can under close supervision (doesn't have to be with the same puppies each time). Interrupt their play if one seems overwhelmed or one is trying to bully another, give them a break, then let the overwhelmed puppy go and see if they initiate playing again. If they do, let the other puppies go back to playing too. At first, expect you pup to be very nervous and maybe even hide behind you. Let her curiosity get the better of her until she decides to try to play. If you can arrange for two friend's puppies to play together that can also help by letting her watch others play and making her want to join in and overcome her fear. You can also do three second greetings with friends' calm, well behaved dogs. I suggest avoiding meeting potentially aggressive, reactive, or overly excited dogs though because a bad interaction could make things worse. Also, a dog park is not a good place for a puppy to learn all of this. Puppies play differently than older dogs and dog parks are more likely to involve fights. Some places, like Petco and Petfood Express offer free puppy play groups once a week. Call and see if they will let her join at her age - she may be too old but maybe not. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Parker
Lurcher
5 Months
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Parker
Lurcher
5 Months

Hi, my pup loves people and other dogs, however he has started barking out on walks for people/dogs to give him attention, if we are on our own with no one about he does not bark at all. How can I get him to listen to me and stop barking when's he's so excited about greeting people?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
416 Dog owners recommended

Hello Helen, At his age I suggest first teaching the Quiet command from the Quiet method in the article I have linked below: Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Teach him Quiet so that you can tell him Quiet and he will understand what you mean, then if you have to give a small leash correction to get his attention back on you, the leash correction is for disobedience and not just the appearance of another dog - this helps him understand and learn better. Next, go tons of places with other people and dogs in the distance and work on a structured heel and other obedience commands with people and dogs in the background. You want him to get so used to being around others without anything super exciting or scary happening that they become almost boring to him and he becomes less reactive. Working on obedience while around people puts him in a calmer, more focused state which helps him associate people and other dogs with being in a calmer, more focused state also. Think about Service Dogs. They play with tons of puppies and meet tons of people while young, but as they get older their socialization starts looking like being around tons of dogs and people in a calmer way, like passing people on the street while in heel, or doing a down-stay next to another dog instead of always roughhousing. You don't want your pup to be isolated from other people and dogs, and you don't want him to associate people and dogs with a super excited state and rough play all the time either. Calmness, pleasantness, and focus on you should be what you work toward. Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Winnie
Border Terrier
16 Weeks
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Question
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Winnie
Border Terrier
16 Weeks

Hi, my border terrier puppy is very young and she loves attention and people that come into the house. She very rarely barks in the house but does sometimes in the garden. Although, when we go on a walk she does not stop barking. She barks at everything, people, cars, wind, trees... literally anything. At some point it seems aggressive and it’s becoming hard to deal with. What can we do to overcome this?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
416 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ben, At her age I suspect the barking is a combination of fear and excitement. She likely needs more positive experiences with the things that are new to her, like strangers, other dogs, cars, leaves, ect...All the things that are getting a reaction out of her now. Check out the video linked below and the second video channel with additional details on desensitizing to specific things: Barking on a walk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JY7JrteQBOQ Barking video series: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a I also suggest reading the free PDF e-book download AFTER You Get Your Puppy, written by the co-founder of the association of professional dog trainers: www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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