How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking With a Whistle

Medium
1-4 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

The doorbell rings and the barking begins. A family is walking past your house, and the barking begins. A neighborhood cat walks by the front window, and the barking begins. Sound familiar?

A common problem that many dog owners live with is excessive or inappropriate barking from their beloved canine companion. Not only can this type of behavior quickly become a habit, but it can disrupt and interfere with your daily life, your neighbors’ peace of mind, and your dog’s mental health. 

While it is entirely natural for dogs to bark, frequent barking often signals underlying issues with a dog. How can you put an end to unnecessary barking quickly? Try using a whistle!

Defining Tasks

Ideally, you want to determine what is triggering your dog to bark frequently. Patience and careful observation may be needed to find the sources of a dog’s desire to bark loudly and consistently. 

Sometimes the dog’s focus on the object of his frustration needs to be broken. For some dogs, a new squeaky toy or treat puzzle may be enough to interrupt the barking cycle. But other dogs may require a more intensely directed audible noise to create an associative distraction. 

That’s where using a whistle can assist you in diverting your dog’s attention to promote healthier --- and less noisy --- behaviors. Whistles emit sounds between 23 and 46 kHz, making the high-pitched sound unpleasant to your dog's ears, and making whistles a potentially ideal way to manage your dog's barking habits. 

Getting Started

Identify and choose a source of your dog’s barking, such as a doorbell ringing or a person walking in front of the house. Have a whistle ready; a silent “dog whistle” that only canines can hear or a regular whistle will work equally well for these training exercises. Be sure to have plenty of treats on hand so you can teach your dog to associate not barking with a tasty goodie.

The Whistle-Stop Method

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Step
1
Initiate barking
If your dog doesn't bark on his own, trigger the barking. For example, have a neighbor or family member walk on the sidewalk in front of your home, or ring the doorbell.
Step
2
Blow the whistle
As soon as your dog begins to bark, blow the whistle. Only use one, sharp blow, not repeated or lengthy whistles. The one abrupt sound should distract or surprise your dog and stop him from barking.
Step
3
Praise your dog if he remains quiet
If your dog quiets down right away, give him praise and a treat.
Step
4
Blow the whistle again
If your dog does not quiet down right away, blow the whistle once again to startle him and stop the barking. Once you notice he is listening to you and has stopped the noise, praise him and give him a treat.
Step
5
Repeat and be consistent
Repeat this procedure every time your dog barks in an unwanted fashion. Remember to be consistent. Eventually, your dog will associate excessive barking with the unpleasant sound of the whistle.
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The Automatic Whistle Method

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Step
1
Buy automatic whistle device
Automatic high-pitched whistles can be found at your local pet store or online retailer.
Step
2
Choose a device that works for you
These whistles will automatically emit a high-pitched sound as soon as your dog begins to bark, so you don't have to stand around all day with a whistle at hand. A variety of options are available, from free-standing, battery-operated devices to whistles that can be mounted on your dog's collar.
Step
3
Redirect your dog's attention
After the first week of training, when your dog is distracted from barking by the automatic whistle device, begin to direct his attention to normal verbal or hand signals to indicate he should stop barking.
Step
4
Direct attention to a positive activity
If your dog begins barking again after the whistle blows, engage him in an activity such as playing with toys or games, or getting a brisk few minutes of exercise.
Step
5
Repeat as needed
Remember, it will take a few weeks of patience and consistency to teach your dog to stop barking. Repeat these steps as necessary over the next month.
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The Speak-Whistle Method

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Step
1
Speak on command
When your dog barks, give a "speak" command.
Step
2
Praise and treat
When your dog barks after you give the "speak" command, praise him and give him a treat. Use short sessions over a week or so to teach your dog this step.
Step
3
Use the whistle
Whenever your dog barks when you have not given the "speak" command, blow the whistle. Give one sharp blow, then praise and treat your dog if he stops barking.
Step
4
Use the whistle if necessary
Repeat this step every time your dog barks without the "speak" command. Remaining patient and consistent with this step is key to success.
Step
5
Keep training sessions short and positive
Another key to success with this training method is keeping the sessions short, no longer than ten minutes. You can have multiple sessions per day as long as they are short.
Recommend training method?
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Written by Erin Cain

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

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Roxie
Anatolian Shepherd
2 Years
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Question
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Roxie
Anatolian Shepherd
2 Years

She barks. All day long. At EVERYTHING.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Erin, Check out the video series I have linked below. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a Also, check out this article on barking, especially the Quiet method and Desensitize method. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark If pup is barking out a window when you are not home to train, I would also remove access to that window while away, by doing something like crating pup or confining them in another room, so pup isn't practicing the bad habit daily while you are also trying to train while home daily - or that lack of consistency can make progress difficult. If pup is outside in a fence or somewhere barking, then I would work on desensitizing, providing more mental and physical exercise daily, and using a device that will interrupt pup's barking when you are not there, like a bark collar (don't use citronella - the smell lingers too long, making it confusing for barking), or automatic treat dispensing device that rewards quietness (best for indoor use due to ants and pests). Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Buster
Australian Cattle Dog
9 Weeks
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Question
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Buster
Australian Cattle Dog
9 Weeks

Can the same method of whistle training be used to discourage nipping and excessive jumping as well as barking? I watched a YouTube video that suggested startling the dog with a loud noise, which he will then associate with the undesirable behavior, so I was wondering if a whistle would be effective.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Skye, I wouldn't use the whistle for too many things because you risk creating a fear of loud noises if used too often - which is much harder to deal with than the nipping or jumping usually is. You can use an interrupter in general for those behaviors though, but any interrupter (which is what a whistle is), needs to also be paired with teaching and rewarding pup for doing an alternative, wanted behavior instead. For jumping, that's usually sitting or keeping all four paws on the ground, for barking it's quietness, for nipping it's leave it. Check out these methods for dealing with those behaviors. Biting - a combination of the Leave It method and the Pressure method would be an interrupter along with an alternative behavior being rewarded - leave it. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Jumping - Step Toward method, which rewards sitting but interrupts jumping by stepping toward pup carefully. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump In addition to using the whistle to interrupt the barking, I would work on teaching Quiet and rewarding Quiet in situations when pup used to bark and doesn't bark also. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Susie
Yorkshire Terrier
14 Years
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Question
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Susie
Yorkshire Terrier
14 Years

Susie is the little yorkie on the left. The bigger yorkie is Sandy, Susie’s puppy that is 7 years old. My problem with Susie is I can’t go out of town and take her because as much as she wants to go she’s a nervous wreck in the car, which is teaching Sandy bad habits. Susie runs from side to side constantly. She steps on the controls and the window goes down while I’m driving on the interstate, not to mention it is dangerous for all of us as she runs across my lap constantly going to the other side and back.

I become a nervous wreck myself. I can’t go out of town and put them in a pet resort because of a money issue. Any suggestions?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Gale, First, pup needs to be physically restrained while in the car to help pup learn calmness, keep arousal lower by avoiding her looking out the windows so much, and keep you safer while driving. I would either crate pup in the car or use a padded car harness that can be clipped to where pup rides on the floorboard of the car if there is space for pup there, if not the middle row seats. Second, I would work on desensitizing pup to the car in general, and working on a Down-Stay in the car. Start by simply feeding beside the car while its off, then feeding treats along the runner with the door open, then inside the car with it still. For at least a couple of weeks practice the Down Stay command on the middle seats' floorboard or seats (if a row seat). Gradually move to practicing with the car in the driveway but stationary while running - don't turn on in the garage for gas fume breathing reasons. When pup is completely relaxed in the car and can do a solid down-stay, recruit a second person to drive or train, so the driver can only focus on driving. Have the person training enforce Down, while the driver simply pulls out of the driveway and back in again. You want trips to be rewarding, calm, and anti-climactic, to condition pup to thinking the car isn't that big of a deal. When pup can stay relaxed during that (which will require a lot of repetition before pup relaxes then too - once pup sees that the driving is boring through repetition), then drive down the block and back. Gradually increase the distance and level of excitement as pup improves, only moving onto further distances or more exciting locations once pup can stay relaxed at the current level of training. You will probably not see enough progress unless you are willing to confine though; otherwise you are going to be fighting pup becoming overly aroused each time. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Toy
Miniature Schnauzer
3 Months
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Toy
Miniature Schnauzer
3 Months

Hello, my puppy barks for no reason, especially when I take a walk, he barks at everyone who has movement, if the person does not grow up, he stops barking but if he chooses to start again I have tried several methods and my last alternative is the anti bark collar but I do not want to use until I spend all the alternatives

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello, At this age, the problem is probably a lack of socialization and fear or people, so I wouldn't use a bark collar until pup is much older. Instead, work on introducing pup to as many different people as you can, instruct the people to toss pup treats as soon as pup gets quiet for even a second. You want pup to begin to associate people with rewards, so that they will like people and feel less scary of them - doing this can help address the underlying issue of fear, and once that's resolved the barking should be easier to address. 100 people is not too many to practice with, recruit friends and family to meet you on walks, take pup places where people would like to greet them outside, and carry treats with you to give pup. Also, work on teaching the Quiet command. Once pup is no longer fearful of people, just excited, you should have a better response to Quiet. It needs to be taught in combination with socialization though to work, most likely. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Finally, check out the youtube channel I have linked below and the barking videos found there. There are several examples of desensitizing a dog to things they are fearful and reactive towards. These videos are a bit similar to what I mention needs to be done with socialization, but with more specific examples. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Tiny
Mutt
1 Year
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Question
0 found helpful
Tiny
Mutt
1 Year

Constant barking will stop when he sees me but as soon as I am out of sight he starts barking at anything

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Liz, 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. While you are not home, confine him in a crate or room that doesn't look out the windows right now - barking at things out the window lets him practice the bad behavior over and over again and barking is a self-rewarding behavior because of the arousing chemicals released in a dog's brain - so once a dog starts he is naturally encouraged to continue it and stays in that state of mind if you aren't there to interrupt. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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