How to stop a dog from barking? How many puppy and dog owners have anguished over this question! It comes up over and over, because dogs do bark and it does bother people. If it’s your dog barking and you are bothered, that’s one thing but if you have angry neighbors, it can get serious.
If I could tell you the magic trick to stop your dog’s barking, I would, but there isn’t just one solution. Dogs bark for a variety of reasons:
- Sometimes to alert you to something going on, such as a car going by
- Sometimes defensively, as when the dog barks because he wants someone or something to go away
- Sometimes for attention or to express frustration
- And sometimes just out of boredom.
If you have a young puppy or a dog who suffers from separation anxiety, and you are gone all day, it is completely natural that your dog would bark… and bark… and bark. In this common type of barking problem, you need to manage the situation more than the dog. Maybe you have a friend, family member, or neighbor who could come by and visit the dog or take him to their place. You would pay for this or it’s also common to work out a trade, where you can do something for the other person.
A Dog Training Tip for Barking, With or Without a Clicker
Here is something that has helped us, and I have seen this approach mentioned in dog training forums and other places:
Train your dog to bark!
This may not make sense to you yet, but read on..
1. Take advantage of a situation which gets him barking (like UPS going by) or have a helper ring the doorbell or do something else that you know will set off the dog
2. Using a clicker, click while he is barking. If you don’t use a clicker already, don’t start it with this particular exercise, just praise him while he is barking.
3. Give him a yummy treat. While he is not barking because he is eating it, click again to reward his silence, or say “good” if you aren’t clicker training, and then give him that treat too. (You want small treats, so the eating won’t take much time and so you can give quite a few. I like one preservative-free hot dog cut into about 100 pieces and keep small Ziploc bags of these in my freezer.)
4. Repeat steps 1 to 3 over and over, soon using the cue words “Bark!” and “Quiet!” (or “Silence!” or “Enough!”) at the appropriate times. If you have been yelling “QUIET!” at your dog for years, do select a different cue word here. Go back and forth with this, again and again… you may need that helper at the doorbell again.
5. Gradually shift so the rewards come only after he is quiet. I wouldn’t even try this on the first day, but within a few days.
6. This is going to take some time to get really good results. Keep practicing; don’t give up quickly. Gradually ask him to be quiet for longer times, even when that doorbell is going on and on, or friends / helpers are coming in the front door.
7. When you have this working in practice, begin using it in everyday life. It is pretty normal for the dog to not do as well at first in real circumstances, often because you are distracted by greeting your guests or something of the sort. Just keep at it.
A Book to Help You Stop Dog Barking
That one technique may not work for all situations, or you may want to find out more right away. Here is a classic book on barking dogs:
This book, written by a well-known Norwegian dog trainer, begins by discussing the fact that barking is a natural way for dogs to communicate. She describes how we can learn to understand what they are saying. Well, but what about your problems? In clear language and with photos, she gives methods for dealing with problem barking.