According to various studies carried out by dog training professionals, stopping a dog from barking is one of the most commonly requested solutions dog owners are looking for when they hire a dog trainer.
Unwanted dog barking can range from slight annoyance to a really serious problem, particularly if neighbours are complaining.
Learning how to stop a dog barking is one thing, but first we must take the time to understand why a dog is barking in the first place. You could start here: Why do dogs bark and what do certain dog barks mean?
In this guide we will provide some simple, practical tips on the actions you can take to reduce unwanted or excessive dog barking in adult dogs and puppies.
Common questions on unwanted dog barking
Quick questions about what particular dog barks mean
Teaching a Dog Not to Bark
Let’s look at one of the best tips to stop dog barking. It’s short, it’s simple and it works! If it were written in the form of a Japanese proverb it might sound something like this:
“To teach a dog not to bark, first you have to teach it to bark.”
We’re looking to stop our dog barking and so we go about training to bark?
Well, yes. You see, a dog barking can only really be expected to understand a command to stop barking if he’s been taught it. Attaining an element of control to your dog’s barking is one the most effective ways to control their unwanted barking. After all, you wouldn’t just say sit to a dog and expect him to understand. You’d teach the command.
So if we teach a dog to bark on command, we can also teach the dog to be quiet on command. This reinforces the concept of desired behaviour (bark when I ask you to) and other desired behaviour (stop barking / be quiet when I ask you to). In this format, we are teaching two desired states of behaviour rather than just focussing on trying to eradicate an unwanted behaviour (un-requested barking).
How to teach your dog to bark on command
How to teach your dog not to bark
Sandy Finley is a professional dog trainer. Here are his top tips to cure unwanted dog barking:
Dogs do not engage in unrewarding behaviour. Dog training is mostly about making bad behaviours unrewarding. If we simply employ this principle, we can stop our dog from barking excessively.
Dogs bark because it is a natural behaviour.
Barking is used to alert their pack of possible danger and to give warning to others. This natural behaviour can go astray when the canine is bored, stressed or for various other reasons.
An analogy would be overeating in humans. Eating is obviously a natural behaviour. However, if we are bored, stressed or suffer from various maladies we sometimes overeat. Natural behaviours can become unnatural given a toxic environment. This is what occurs with your dog barking excessively.
We therefore have a problem with a cause and a symptom. The cause of your dog’s barking is generally stress or boredom. The symptom is the headache inducing noise known as “excessive barking”.
As your dog’s trainer, you would strive to eliminate both the cause and the symptom. Both canine stress and boredom can be alleviated by exercising your dog. A tired dog is a good dog. Exercise both his mind and body. This can be accomplished by walking your dog and obedience training. Different breeds will need different degrees of exercise. If you have a working breed like a Border Collie, you will need large doses of work to drain his energy reserves. Less active dogs will need less work.
Unfortunately, it may take a great deal of time to reverse barking behaviours that have become ingrained. It would accordingly also be appropriate to address the excessive barking behaviour directly. To do this would involve retraining your dog that excessive barking is unrewarding.
To retrain your dog not to bark, try this:
· Create an environment where barking is unrewarding and quiet is rewarding.
· Every time your dog barks inappropriately, go to him and command “NO.”
· When the dog barks, go to where he is. Do not call him to you.
· Go to him immediately after he barks.
· Your aim should be so consistent that the dog comes to perceive it as an automatic and inevitable consequence of barking, but you should not be seeking to frighten the dog – simply to disrupt the unwanted behaviour and reward the desired response. Barking = nothing. Not barking = praise / reward.
· When the dog is quiet, reward him with your presence and your affectionate praise.
Finally, if your dog is showing signs of aggression, it always advised to bring in a professional.
Quick tips to stop dog barking
To keep your dog from barking, you need to stop rewarding the behaviour, even if it’s accidental. You might be rewarding your dog’s barking without even realising it. If they bark for your attention – and you give it – they are rewarded.
Stimulate your dog every day to help prevent nuisance behaviours, such as barking. A bored dog is more likely to bark continuously in an effort to gain attention. If you get your dog out for regular walks and exercise, you may find that this behaviour stops. You will have a happier dog, and be a happier owner. Yes, often barking is simply a result of boredom. A bored dog will engage in lots of unwanted behaviour, not just barking!
To reduce the barking of your dog, try getting them used to what causes the barking in the first place. It can be a sound, or being face to face with other people or other animals. Your dog will understand that there is no need to bark in these situations.
The best way to prevent your dog from barking excessively, is to make him more comfortable with whatever it is he barks at so frequently. Dogs bark at anything that scares of threatens them, so if you show your dog that the object of their fear is nothing to be afraid of, he’ll stop barking.
To train a dog to stop barking you must first train him to bark on command. When the dog barks on command instead of when he chooses to bark, it is easier to teach him to stop barking during the training session. Once he learns the command for “stop barking” he will follow it outside of training.
Yelling at your dog to stop him from barking can be very ineffective. Instead, try talking calmly to him, and teach him a word that he will associate with quiet. Yelling, to your dog, sounds like you are barking right along with him and so, it can further encourage him to bark.
Making sure your dog knows how to learn is the best benefit of working with your dog early on in his or her life. When your dog understands the benefits and rewards of learning the tricks you teach it, the desire to learn is often as rewarding as the reward itself.
How to stop puppy barking
For any new dog owner, handling all of the loud barking of a new puppy can be quite an unnerving experience. Most new dog owners are not prepared for the intense amount of barking and yelping that young puppies start doing the minute they arrive in their new home.
Although it is totally natural, some puppies do not give their owners the luxury of quieting down, especially at night.
One of the biggest phases that a puppy will go through is the fear of being alone. And I’m not talking about being alone in the sense of you leaving the house. Some puppies will go absolutely nuts even when you only leave the room for a split second. They just can’t bear to be alone because they are used to having their mommy or littermates around non-stop.
When faced with this situation, what you do? If you run to your puppy to sooth and caress him every time he cries, then you are only feeding the behaviour and creating a spoiled dog. On the other hand, if you ignore him and let him bark his brains out, the rest of the family (especially your spouse) will become very annoyed with you for letting the barking go on.
4 tips to help you deal with your puppy barking
1. The first step is to try to ignore your puppy’s barking if at all possible without yelling at him. Yelling will either scare him from wanting to come near you or will further add to his anxiety levels that and he will continue barking.
2. There is a product called a “teaching lead” which will enable your puppy to be around you at all times in the house. Use these types of tools so that your puppy can be around you while he is getting used to his independence.
3. When you leave the house, try to refrain from long and drawn out departures. Although it’s understandable to want to pet your puppy and talk sweet to her before leaving the house, it only creates more stress because she will start to associate your behaviour with you leaving her side. The same advice goes when you arrive home. Avoid big and exciting welcomes after walking through the door.
4. Try using a simple training aid to get your puppy to quiet down immediately when she is barking. A water bottle that sends a quick burst of streaming spray is a perfect idea. Or you could use a small tin can filled with a few pennies in it. When you go to leave her side and she starts barking, simply throw that can in her area. It will create a startling noise while at the same time diverting her attention.
A step-by-step guide to stop your puppy from yapping
- Identify the triggers: Take note of when your puppy barks, what they are barking at, and what is happening in their environment. This will help you determine if there are specific triggers that set off their barking.
- Teach the “quiet” command: As mentioned before, teaching the “quiet” command is a great way to control excessive barking. Start by waiting for your puppy to bark, then say “quiet” in a firm but calm voice. When they stop barking, reward them with praise and treats. Repeat this until your puppy starts to understand that “quiet” means to stop barking.
- Use positive reinforcement: Positive reinforcement is a great tool for training your puppy to stop barking. Whenever your puppy is quiet, reward them with treats, toys, or praise. This will reinforce the desired behavior and encourage your puppy to repeat it.
- Be consistent: Consistency is key when it comes to training your puppy. Make sure everyone in your household is on the same page and using the same commands and rewards. This will help your puppy learn faster and avoid confusion.
- Avoid punishment: Punishing your puppy for barking can actually make the problem worse. Yelling at your puppy or using physical force can cause them to become anxious and stressed, which can lead to more barking.
- Provide enough exercise and mental stimulation: A bored puppy is more likely to bark excessively. Make sure your puppy gets enough exercise and mental stimulation every day. Take them for walks, play games, and provide plenty of toys to keep them occupied.
Do yappy puppies grow up to be yappy adult dogs?
There is no clear answer but some dogs may grow out of excessive barking as they mature, while others may continue to bark excessively without proper training and socialisation. It’s important to address the issue as early as possible to prevent it from becoming a long-term problem.
Worth a look:
How to stop your dog barking at other dogs
How to stop dog barking – video guides
Useful reading on how to teach your dog to stop barking
|How To Stop Your Dog Barking | Dog Training | Dogs Trust||dogstrust.org.uk|
|How To Stop Your Dog Barking | Battersea Dogs & Cats Home||battersea.org.uk|
|How To Stop Your Dog Barking | Blue Cross||bluecross.org.uk|
|How To Stop A Barking Dog | The Humane Society Of The United States||humanesociety.org|
|How To Stop Your Dog Barking Too Much | Rspca||rspca.org.uk|
|How To Stop A Dog From Barking Guide | Petmd||petmd.com|
|How To Stop A Dog Barking – Petz||petz.uk|
|Excessive Dog Barking: Reasons & And How To Stop It||akc.org|