Excessive Barking: How to Train Your a Dog to Stop Barking
Dogs are a wonderful and welcome addition to a home, but if they’re barking constantly, maybe not as welcome as they could be. Whether your pup is a consistent nighttime barker, barks at his own shadow, or can’t help barking up a storm when he sees other dogs, it’s understandable that you would rather he not engage in his loud habit. Plus, a dog that barks all of the time can be somewhat off-putting to visitors and to others when you’re out in public.
Why Does Your Dog Bark So Much?
Before you can figure out the best way to get your pup to stop barking, you need to determine why he’s barking in the first place. Dogs bark for several reasons, all revolving around communication in some way. For example, your dog might bark because he wants food or water, to send a warning, declare his presence, or just to say hello to people and other pups.
Is Your Dog Barking at Other Dogs?
If your pup barks at other dogs, it doesn’t automatically mean he won’t get along well with other canines. In fact, he could be trying to play or express himself to his fellow mates. But, if his barking is consistent and seems out of place, it may be that your dog hasn’t had ample opportunities for socialization. This is especially likely if there are no signs of aggression, like snapping, lunging, growling, and baring teeth, accompanying your pup’s barks. Other times, your dog might possess an intense need to protect you, and her barking could be telling other dogs, “Hey, back away from my human.”
Is Your Dog Barking All Day and Night?
If your dog is barking all the time, whether other pups are around or not, try to pinpoint potential triggers. What happens right before your pup’s barking that might be setting her off? Your pup could be bored, lonely, or very nervous. Any one of these feelings, or a combination of them, can cause your dog to launch into a barking frenzy.
Tips to Get a Dog to Stop Barking at Home
If your dog barks all day and night, there are a few things you can implement to get her to vocalize less.
- Reduce Distractions -- If your pup barks at everything she hears and every little thing that catches her eye; then minimize distractions. Keep the television on or play music in the background to drown out ambient noises. Keep your puppy's bed in an area away from windows, or draw the curtains or shades shut, do your dog isn’t tempted to bark at everything that passes by your house.
- Provide Ample Opportunities for Exercise -- An under stimulated dog is a hyper dog. Make sure your pup has adequate opportunities to burn off energy as needed. Take your dog for walks, ensure she has ample playtime, and provide her with stimulating and engaging activities and toys, like the Rolly Cannoli.
- Try a Crate -- Sometimes, your dog might feel a little overwhelmed by his environment; this is especially true if you adopt a dog from a shelter. Providing your dog with a comfy, secure place that is all his own, like a crate, can work wonders. The key is to leave the crate door open though, so your dog knows he can come and go as he pleases and is not “trapped.”
- Stay Positive -- Yelling at your dog to be quiet won’t help him, and it will only make him and you more upset. Keep your attitude and voice positive and upbeat with your pooch. When he barks, turn your back on him and ignore the behavior until he stops. As soon as he stops, reward him with praise and a yummy treat. This positive reinforcement training can help your pup learn that a calm and quiet demeanor is preferable to his non-stop barking.
- Reduce Separation Anxiety -- If your pup’s litany of barks and yips is due to separation anxiety, you can’t simply ignore the issue. You need to work on the anxiety itself. Get your dog used to being away from you in gradual increments. Start by leaving your pup alone for just a few seconds by stepping into another room, then go out the front food for a minute, then two, and so on, increasing the interval each time. You can also use a gadget like a dog camera to communicate with your pup while you are away. Some of these gadgets even dispense treats for your pup!
- Make Sure to Make One Final Potty Stop -- Before you leave home and before bed, make sure your pup gets one final potty break. You might also want to pick up your pup’s water bowl at night. If your dog has to go to the bathroom and no one is around to let him out, this can lead to some frenzied barking and behavior, not to mention unwanted accidents.
Should You Get Another Dog?
It might seem like a no brainer to get another dog to keep your pup company. Maybe if your dog has a friend, he won’t bark, right? Well, maybe yes, and maybe no. You still need to train and work with your new pup, otherwise, you’re likely just going to end up with two non-stop barkers on your hands. Dogs do this thing called honor barking where the submissive dog will bark whenever the alpha dog barks as a way to back him up and show support. So, if you want to get a second dog, ensure you have the time, money, and energy that double dogs require.
Tips to Get a Dog to Stop Barking At Other Dogs
If your canine companion is relatively quiet at home, but then goes berserk when he sees other dogs, you need to approach things a bit differently. Of course, staying positive and the other things mentioned above are important, but there are a couple of extra things to keep in mind. Here are a few additional items to try if your dog goes crazy when he sees fellow pups:
- Have Treats at the Ready -- When you go out and about with your dog, have lots of treats ready to go. You can train your pup while you’re out and about, plus treats offer a great distraction. As soon as your dog goes to bark, you can use a clicker or vocal command to get his attention and reward him with a treat. You can also enlist the help of a friend with a (well-trained) dog to practice.
- Invest in Basic Obedience Training and Socialization -- It’s important to give your pup the proper foundation for good behavior, and this comes in early socialization and obedience training basics like sit, stay and come. Provide ample opportunities for your pup to meet with other dogs on neutral territory, in other words, not in your house. You can try a dog park, an arranged doggy play date with a friend down the street, etc.
- Don’t Pull Your Pup Away -- When your dog starts barking at other dogs, it might seem natural to try and pull her away, but this can actually make her bark more. You’re sending the message that this dog is a threat and you need to get away fast. Instead, relax the leash and keep your mood relaxed too. Remember, dogs sense human emotions. If you are worried about what your pup will do, relax the leash and change direction so you and your pup are walking away from the other dog.
Should You Get Professional Help for Your Dog’s Barking?
If you feel like you’ve tried everything to squash your dog’s barking habit, but to no avail, then you might want to consider getting the help of a pro. You can find expert guidance by searching the Association of Professional Dog Trainers or asking for recommendations from trusted friends, family, or your vet. Sometimes, when you know you don’t have the necessary time to devote to training your pup with her barking habit, a pro is a good way to go from the outset.
Getting advice and help from a professional is well worth it, instead of letting frustrations and stress continue to mount. Before you hire a trainer, you can always ask your vet for some suggestions first. She might have some ideas you haven’t tried yet.
What About Debarking?
Debarking is a surgical procedure in which a vet removes tissue from a dog’s vocal cords to reduce the sound of barking. It is irreversible and limits your pup’s ability to vocalize naturally. In fact, it is often considered cruel and many vets refuse to perform the procedure. If you get to a point where you are seriously considering having your dog debarked, it’s better to hire a professional trainer or find a new home for your dog.If your dog’s excessive barking is making you want to howl, don’t lose hope! There are a number of things you can do to help your pup, and you can also reach out to a professional for extra help and advice. For more tips and resources about how to handle your pup’s quirky habits and be a great pet parent, check out the rest of our blog!
- Fernando Becattini