How to get your dog to stop barking: 7 Training Tricks and Tips

How to get your dog to stop barking- 7 Training Tricks and Tips

While it is true that dogs bark as a means of communication, excessive or unnecessary barking can be annoying to owners, as well as their neighbors. We are often asked how to get a dog to stop barking and we have found there are a number of methods that can help train your dog to minimize the unwanted noise.

But before we go into any depth on the subject of how to get your dog to stop barking, do understand that no training technique will completely eliminate barking. And we don’t think that you would want it to.

According to the ASPCA, the most common reasons for a dog to bark are:

  • Territorial Barking: A response to intruders, be it people or animals.
  • Alarm Barking: A response to specific sounds or sights.
  • Attention-Seeking: To gain a reward or attention.
  • Greeting: Much like a person’s “Hi,” a dog will bark when encountering a person, and it’s usually is a relaxed, non-confrontational bark.
  • Compulsive Barking: This may be for no apparent reason, but the dog gets agitated and may pace.
  • Socially-Facilitated: A response to another dog barking.
  • Frustration-Induced: A response to confinement or separation.

As you can see, dogs do bark as a simple greeting, if startled, or in response to a perceived threat, much of which is natural. But those barks that are for attention, from frustration, and/or are compulsive do need to be remedied. And typically, it is wise to train a dog not to bark when greeting another dog.

Your first step in how to get your dog to stop barking should be to identify why your dog is exhibiting this behavior in the first place, be it barking incessantly or without provocation. This can help in identifying the best method to use.

It will take some time and patience for you to achieve a calmer, less yappy animal, but all will be happier in the long run. (And those neighbors will really thank you.) You’ll also be more accepted out in public and in when visiting others’ homes if your dog is well behaved. So it’s a win-win for everyone.

So let’s get started with the tips on how to get your dog to stop barking.

7 Most Recommended Training Tips to Get Your Dog to Stop Barking

1. Desensitization

Take a look at what your dog is barking at. Are they barking at the delivery person every time they come to the door? Or maybe they see a child riding their bike to school every morning? In these cases, you need to desensitize your dog to this stimulus in a positive way.

If you know what time that bike rider is making their way down your street, sit with your dog and wait. As they just come into view, reward your dog with a treat and talk to them in soothing tones. As they get closer, reward them again. Once your dog does bark, stop the treats.

You will need to do this repeatedly for the dog to understand. You can even wave at the rider as a friendly gesture. You might even get lucky and they will stop and talk, allowing the dog to get to know them. Eventually your dog will understand the treats are better than the barking. They will, essentially, get trained out of the habit.

2. Use of Commands

Most dogs are very trainable to commands. How do you get your dog to stop barking with a command? There are several ways to do this.

According to Cesar Milan: “Tell your dog to stop barking using a look, a sound, or a {gesture}. But don’t stop there. Your dog may pause and then go right back to what he was doing. His body relaxed, but his brain was still on alert…. Wait until your dog completely submits before you go back to what you were doing.”

In other words, follow through with the look or command until the dog has abandoned their effort. Be patient, calm, and consistent.

Others suggest that you start backwards and work your way forward. This means that you teach your dog to bark on command. Treat-based training works well when teaching commands. Command them to “speak,” and when they do you can reward them with a treat. Over a period of time they will come to bark on command without the treat.

At this point you work your way forward. Use the command “speak” and then start using the command “quiet” and provide them with a treat when they stop barking. Reinforce the quiet behavior over time with treats. Eventually you will no longer need the treats or the earplugs.

3. Removal of the Offending Object

Does your dog bark at the squirrels in the backyard? And you have a lot of them, you say? We don’t recommend eliminating the local squirrel population, but you can remove the visual stimulus. Closing the blinds or curtains and keeping them out of certain rooms removes the critters from their view. If they can’t see the squirrels, they won’t be barking at them.

Now, how to get your dog to stop barking at sounds is another ballgame. If they don’t like the sound of the mail truck or the children playing next door, you can mask the sounds with white noise or music. A small desktop fan or radio left on can be both soothing and eliminate outside noises, meaning your dog will be quieter and calmer overall.

4. Anti-Stress Devices

For dogs that get stressed when left alone, there are several items on the market that can be of help.

Stress-reducing collars typically use pheromone technology or an herbal mixture that helps to relieve anxiety. The pheromones mimic those that nursing dogs release to comfort their pups, while herbal blends simulate pheromones. These are inexpensive and simple to use.

Anxiety wraps or jackets can also be helpful with a stressed or anxious dog that barks a lot. These are now marketed by several different companies and are readily available online and in pet stores. They are made from breathable fabrics that provide gentle, maintained pressure, which has a calming effect. Some also incorporate the tenets of acupressure in their product for additional stress relief.

And remember, you can set up an area of the house/yard/garage that is a “safety zone” for your dog. A crate with a bed, toys, and plenty of water can make them feel safe and secure. You can even leave the crate open and close a door or install a child safety gate so they have a bit more room. For added measure, you can provide the white noise or music as an extra calming device.

5. Alleviate the Boredom

Many dogs bark as a way to relieve boredom. They bark when you come home, when you leave, in the house or in the yard. Make sure that your dog is getting enough activity.

Tire them out before you leave in the morning and when you get home at night. That could mean a walk or run (good exercise for you both) or throwing the ball for 15 minutes.

6. Dog Bark Spray Collar

We have never advocated the use of shock collars as a way to train your dog, but spray collars are a fairly harmless alternative that you may find very effective.
Typical spray collars use citronella, an oil extract that has a slight lemony odor. When your dog barks, the collar sprays a mist of liquid in their face, distracting and discouraging them from continued barking. Most dogs dislike the smell and will avoid activating the collar. Over time, it should condition the dog to discontinue excessive barking, and the collar can then be removed.

7. Hire a Professional

Hopefully with a little patience and time, you can train your dog to eliminate most barking behaviors. But, as a last resort, there are always professionals to turn to.

Dog trainers, dog whisperers, dog psychologists, canine massage therapists, you name it, they are available. You just have to figure out which one is the best for your situation and your dog.

Some will take your dog for a period of time for intensive training (typically 1-2 weeks); others will see them on a regular basis for training sessions. Either way, they will also provide you with follow-up instructions and training techniques to continue training at home.

All of these methods are tried and true when it comes to alleviating or eliminating unwanted barking in your furry friend. Which one you use is dependent on your dog’s temperament, the reason for the barking, and what will make the most sense within your time constraints and budget.

We wish you success in your efforts to get your dog to stop barking, as we know your dog is worth both the time and investment it takes.

A Final Note: We do not recommend harsh and intimidating techniques to eliminate barking. These would include physically striking your dog or threatening to strike your dog, the use of shock collars, or repeated yelling. While there are some who advocate for a spray bottle with water or offensive-smelling liquid, this too does nothing for the underlying issue of why your dog is barking. Punishment is never a solution in instances like these.