Meeka, the 16-week-old terrier puppy, gets so excited when she is playing with her owners that she barks excitedly. This behavior has started to increase to the point where it is disruptive and causing the neighbors on the other side of the wall of the duplex Meeka’s family lives in, to become quite annoyed. Meeka’s owners want to stop this barking behavior before it becomes established. Since Meeka is only a puppy now, it seems like a good time to nip this behavior in the bud!
It is easy for young dogs to get so excited when playing that they begin to vocalize in their excitement. To some degree this is natural, but if it becomes excessive it can become a problem, and contribute to excited barking at other times that can become difficult to control and stop. Fortunately, it is easier to change this behavior in a puppy than in an older dog that may have experienced owners getting excited and yelling or punishing an excited barking dog, making the behavior even worse. Being calm and consistent will be the key to changing this annoying habit. Remember, yelling at your barking dog only makes him think you are barking right along with him, so avoid this response to get your puppy to not bark when playing.
Puppies get excited, they have lots of energy, they love to play, and they are only just discovering what kind of reactions they get to different behaviors. A puppy may bark when excited. This is natural but can lead to unwanted, excessive, excited barking when your puppy is playing, or in other situations, which you will want to avoid. Excited barking is annoying, and can become out of control quickly. Excited emotional states can also lead to toy aggression when playing, which can then transfer to other types of overexcited, aggressive behaviors. You will want to intercede, to change your dog's emotional state and response to playing and toys, when your dog is young and it is easier to change his habit and behavior. Make sure you are not inadvertently escalating or reinforcing barking during playing. Extinguish barking by not rewarding it. You can also start directing barking by teaching your dog to 'speak' and then be quiet. Although this may seem counterintuitive, it actually teaches your puppy appropriate barking behavior that is directed and controlled. Remember, it is hard to bark when your dog's attention, and mouth, is engaged with something else. Puppies can easily be redirected, and this can be an effective tool for controlling barking when playing.
Be consistent when training your puppy not to bark when playing. Make sure everyone in the household is on board, so your puppy is not reinforced or allowed to continue with this annoying habit. It is confusing for a young dog to be directed to stop a behavior by one member of the family and encouraged to do it by another, and it is not fair to your puppy. Use treats to establish control of vocalizations and put barking on command. Never get excited and start yelling at your dog for excited barking, as this will only cause your puppy to bark more as his emotional state heightens. Instead, be calm and controlled to get calm and controlled responses.