Excessive barking in dogs is one of the most common complaints. Of course, you can't expect that your dog will never bark. Barking is how canines communicate, so your pooch is going to bark from time to time. If your dog barks more than normal, you can easily learn how to get your dog to stop barking and stop this behavior.
Dogs bark for a number of reasons, including:
- to protect their pack or territory
Some dogs bark because of an underlying issue like separation anxiety, depression or a compulsive need. In order to learn how to get your dog to stop barking, you first need to figure out why he is barking in the first place.
If there is an underlying condition causing the barking, you'll need to treat that before working on any type of behavior training to curb the noise. As with all types of canine training, learning how to stop a dog from barking will take time and patience. It's not going to happen overnight, but if you stay consistent your efforts, you'll see progress.
How to Get Your Dog to Stop Barking
If there is something that always causes your dog to bark, like people walking down the street, do what you can to remove the motivation for the dog to bark. Of course, you can't prevent people from walking past your home, but you may be able to prevent your dog from seeing them.
Add/close curtains or shades to your windows. If possible, remove the dog's ability to see out the window altogether. For example, at our house we have an elevated dog bed in front of the picture window in our living room. Moving the bed would remove our dogs' ability to look out that window.
You might need to get creative. If your dog jumps up to look out the window, find some type of barricade (perhaps a pet gate) that will keep him from accessing the window. The key is to remove the motivation for barking, whether it's the window or something else.
It may take a bit of ingenuity and a few dollars, but removing the motivation to bark is the fastest choice when learning how to get a dog to stop barking. If you can get rid of the motivation to bark, you won't need to do any behavioral training at all.
2. Redirect Your Dog with Behavior Training
If you can't remove the motivation to bark, you'll need to work on your dog's behavior training. If your dog barks at other pets in your home or barks excessively when guests come to visit, these are things that you cannot prevent.
In the video above, I use the example of people coming to visit your home. I'll stick with the same example for this article. We want our dogs to bark as a warning when someone comes to our house. However, sometimes the barking can be excessive and visitors may view it as threatening or aggressive.
First, you'll need to come up with a verbal cue to let your pooch know when he needs to start barking. I tell my dogs “It's okay.” That gives the signal that I acknowledge that someone is here and they don't need to bark anymore.
Once you've given the cue, you'll need to redirect your pet to a chosen area such as his dog bed or another room. Use a treat that your dog really likes to distract him from the visitor and lead him to the desired area.
While leading him to the chosen spot, use a verbal command such as “go to bed” or “go lie down.” Praise him when he gets there, and be sure to continue the praise if he sits there while your guest enters the house. Then, use another verbal cue to tell him when it's okay to come greet the guest.
It won't happen overnight, but if you're consistent, your dog will eventually realize what he is supposed to do when a visitor arrives: bark to warn you, go to his designated area, and then wait until the visitor enters the home to greet them.
3. Ignore the Behavior
Sometimes, neither of the previous solutions will work. One common situation that comes to mind is crate training and being in a crate. It is typical that a dog who is in the beginning stages of crate training will bark when he is closed in his kennel, and many pet owners deal with crate whining.
In this situation, you'll have to ignore the behavior. This will teach your pooch that barking will not get him what he wants. If you let your dog out of the crate every time he barks, he'll begin to think that barking will get him what he wants. If you give him attention (even negative attention like scolding), he'll realize that barking gets your attention.
Ignore the behavior until your dog stops barking. When he's quiet, reward him with a treat. If he begins to bark again, ignore it and wait until he's quiet. Gradually make him sit quietly for longer periods of time before he receives his reward.
4. Prevent Boredom
Sometimes, dogs bark to burn off excessive energy or to get attention when they are bored. If your dog barks when left alone or left in a crate, it may be due to that boredom. Make sure you let him have plenty of time to play and burn off excess energy before leaving him.
If your dog barks at you to try to get your attention to relieve boredom, spend some time with him. Provide lots of toys (some are great for boredom) and chews to entertain your dog when you don't have time to play. Puzzle toys especially are a perfect way to provide mental stimulation to dogs, and keep your dog's interest. If your dog is busy, he won't have time to bark.
5. Use a Head Halter to Stop Barking While Walking
If your dog barks at people every time you're walking him down the street, a head halter such as this one may be a beneficial training, too. Head halters offer a humane way to show your dog that it isn't acceptable to bark at people while in public.
You can easily attach a leash to the halter, just like you would to a traditional dog harness or collar. With a slight pull, the halter will close around your dog's muzzle. This applies pressure to your dog's muzzle and closes his mouth.
A head halter is an easy and safe way to learn how to stop a dog from barking at other people or other animals when you're in public. Your pup will quickly learn that when he barks, the head halter will tighten around his muzzle, and he'll lose the desire to be noisy while out for a walk.