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Patience 101: How to Stop Your Dog from Barking

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Every neighborhood has that one dog that never seems to take a breath. The barking’s non-stop. You wonder how the owners cope. Hopefully, that dog doesn’t belong to you. If you HAVE encountered moments of excessive yapping, you’ve probably wondered: is it possible to stop your dog from barking? Have no fear. As long as you have the patience, we’ve got the training tips you need.

Understanding Barking

Before you can start the process of stopping your dog from barking, you need to know WHY they’re barking in the first place. After all, dogs bark for a variety of reasons. Dog barks represent canine communication. Consider it the equivalent of our daily conversations. And each bark has a different meaning.

You’ll never completely stop your dog from barking. And, honestly, you don’t want to. Barks can represent signs of distress or alarm in certain situations (for instance, a critical injury). You WANT to hear that bark. They tell you something’s wrong, either with your dog or the surrounding environment.

Think about it: guard dogs bark to warn off intruders. Some service dogs bark to alert those in the area that their person needs assistance. So barks aren’t always bad things.

Excessive Barking

how to stop a dog from barking

People start losing their cool when dogs cross the line into excessive barking. For instance, your dog spends an hour trying to get your attention while you’re working. Or they sit under a tree barking at the squirrel that couldn’t care less. Your blood pressure climbs into the danger zone, and the neighborhood mutters under their breath.

Time to take action.

Excessive barking tends to fall under a few basic categories:

  • Attention-Seeking
  • Boredom or Loneliness
  • Separation Anxiety or Compulsive Behavior

Each one requires training to correct. And you need to recognize the category if you want to stop your dog from barking. It IS possible.

First, though, you need to take a deep breath. Because all of these training methods have one thing in common:

They require patience and calm on your part.

The “Quiet” Method

how to stop your dog from barking: the quiet command

You want to stop your dog from barking. This means you need to interrupt the barking process. The simplest way is to introduce the “Quiet” command. (Feel free to substitute “Hush” or another word of choice. “Shut up” is NOT acceptable) You’ll communicate to your dog that all that racket needs to cease.

Remember that patience we discussed? You’re going to need it. This is NOT a quick process. Your dog won’t learn to stop barking overnight. It’s going to take several days. Keep these tips in the back of your mind:

  • NEVER yell: As soon as you raise your voice, you’re “barking” back at your dog. It reinforces the behavior.
  • Stay positive: If you keep your cool, make your voice upbeat, and maintain a positive attitude, you’ll get better results.
  • Be consistent: Everyone in the household needs to use the same commands, hand signals, and treats. If you change things up, your dog will get confused. Have the same goal to stop your dog from barking and discuss the plan.
  • All or nothing: You can’t accept some barks and discourage others. Consistency means you don’t encourage your dog to bark at the mailman.

Introducing the “Quiet” Command to Stop Your Dog from Barking

You have a couple of options for teaching your dog the “Quiet” command. They all follow the same basic sequence, though.

  1. As soon as your dog starts barking, say “Quiet” in a CALM but firm voice.
  2. When your dog pauses to breathe (it WILL happen eventually), give them a series of yummy treats and praise. You’ll interrupt the barking routine. You can also opt to gently hold their muzzle shut.
  3. Make sure you don’t give the treat when they bark (you don’t want to reward THAT behavior).
  4. They’ll start to catch on that “Quiet” equals treat time.
  5. Start extending time between the “Quiet” cue and the reward – say to 2 seconds.
  6. As your dog does well, keep extending the time. Go to 5 seconds, then 10 seconds, then 20 seconds. Go out to a full minute.

Congratulations! Your dog knows the “Quiet” command!

When the “Quiet” Command Doesn’t Stop Your Dog from Barking

There are stubborn breeds out there (Dachshunds). They want to bark regardless. If you’ve persistently tried to stop your dog from barking by teaching “Quiet” and failed after at least TWENTY attempts (please give it your best shot), you have an alternative.

  1. Still give the “Quiet” command in that same CALM voice. (I know, you’re exhausted by this point).
  2. Use a can half-full of coins and shake it when your dog continues barking. You’ll startle them out of the barking phase. As soon as the barking stops, initiate the treat and praise.
  3. Continue with the remainder of the training, using the can and “Quiet” together.
  4. Wean the can out of the procedure, switching to just the “Quiet” command.

How to Stop Your Dog from Barking

how to stop your dog from barking

Excessive barking puts everyone on edge. It’s tempting to throw up your hands and reach for a bark collar. If you understand WHY your dog’s barking themselves hoarse, though, you may not need to go that far. Look at when they start barking, what they may be barking at, and even why they start barking. If you unravel the cause, you can stop your dog from barking without resorting to extremes.

Stop Your Attention-Seeking Dog from Barking

Some of the smaller breed dogs have a clingy nature. They want to stay underfoot and get involved in everything you do. And when they don’t get your undivided attention, they resort to barking. It’s possible to stop your attention-seeking hound from howling non-stop. WITHOUT withholding your love and affection.

First, never reward the behavior. As soon as you cave in, they’ve won. You can train your dog to use a bell to signal a need to go outside. Food bowl empty? The next time you fill it, bang the bowl against the floor. Your dog will associate the noise with the arrival of food. Instead of barking, they’ll push it across the floor to make the same sound. (Dogs are SMART)

You have to communicate WITHOUT responding to the bark. Which means learning to ignore your dog. Wait until they STOP to pick them up and cuddle them. Again, treats are for QUIET dogs, not barking dogs.

Stop Your Bored Dog from Barking

If your neighbors leave you “love notes” about the canine serenade while you’re at work, you need to stop your dog from barking. Odds are your dog’s BORED. Give them something to DO while you’re away. Puzzle toys, especially if they have treats inside, make great diversions from distracting the neighborhood. They also engage that canine brain. Once your dog finishes, they’ll need a nap. Sleeping dogs don’t bark.

Consider investing in a dog-walker to stop by during the day. It’ll break up your dog’s routine as well as providing extra exercise. A dog receiving proper levels of activity tends to bark less. Most dogs need a couple of solid walks AND an active game of fetch to stay healthy. A dog-walker or pet-sitter can help you with that necessity. You’ll keep your pooch from chatting to themselves.

Stop Your Separation Anxiety Dog from Barking

Separation anxiety is a little trickier to work with. You’ll often see other destructive behaviors besides the excessive barking, such as pacing, tearing up the furniture, or improper eliminations. You should consider calming treats as part of the plan to stop your dog from barking. They’ll alleviate the heightened anxiety at play in your dog’s brain.

However, due to the complexity of separation anxiety and compulsory behaviors, you need to contact a professional. Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists (CAABs or ACAABs), board-certified veterinary behaviorists (ACVBs), and Certified Professional Dog Trainers (CPDTs) are your BEST resources. You WANT to see those strings of letters after the person’s name. It represents qualified training. They have the knowledge and background to handle difficult situations.

Bark-Be-Gone

Sometimes, the smallest adjustments can help you stop your dog from barking:

  • Closing the curtains or blinds to break up sightlines from outside
  • Making sure your dog receives proper socialization, so they aren’t afraid of new people
  • Teaching your dog to go to their bed when someone knocks at the door

You CAN stop your dog from barking. It just takes some time, patience, and a little creativity. (And treats – don’t forget the treats) Don’t let the barking drive you – or your neighbors – up the wall. You’ve got this. A quieter, more peaceful life is in your reach.

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Andria Kennedy

Andria Kennedy

Andria Kennedy worked as a Licensed Veterinary Technician for 10 years, focusing on Emergency/ICU and later Cardiology, as well as volunteering at both the Philadelphia Zoo and Virginia Living Museum for over six years. She's now a freelance writer, but she gravitates toward writing projects with a focus on animals (once an animal-lover, always an animal-lover). She lives in Virginia with her fiance', three cats (one "works" as her personal assistant), and a Greyhound who thinks she's a big cat — all of them rescues.

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