How To Train Your Dog Not to Bark
Barking is a common way for dogs to communicate, but when you can’t control it, it can get really overwhelming! It’s actually part of a dog’s language and it can mean a lot of different things. If your dog is barking too much, your first step is to first figure out what’s making your dog bark.
Why Do Dogs Bark?
Take some time to notice what is causing your dog to bark. Once you have identified the cause, it’s easier to choose a training technique (below) that will be the most effective.
Looking For Attention
Dogs often bark when they are looking for your attention to let them out, play with them, or feed them.
It’s very common for dogs to bark when they are afraid of something, whether the delivery truck is in your driveway, or they hear a loud sound like thunder or fireworks.
Boredom and Loneliness
Dogs are pack animals. In the wild, they would be with their extended family all the time, so when we leave them alone it can be confusing. They often get bored and lonely and start barking because they are sad, to see if someone will hear them and come home, or just to fill the time.
Sometimes dogs will bark when they see someone they love or are excited to meet someone for the first time. You’ll know this happy bark by the wagging tail and excitement
Dogs can be very territorial. When someone is coming into their turf, they can bark to scare them away. Often the barking gets more intense as someone gets closer to the house.
Some dogs like to bark when they play. It’s a way for them to get their excitement out.
What to do
There are several ways to teach your dog to stop unwanted barking. Because every dog is a little different, try these techniques and see which ones work with your dog. Make sure you are consistent and give the training some time to make a change. Barking is a very ingrained behavior for dogs, so training them to give it up takes patience.
Most helpful for these barking types: Protecting, Fear, Play, Attention
This is a really useful command to teach your dog. Especially if you can catch them early in their barking before they get really into it.
Step 1: When your dog is barking go to them with a treat that they really like in your hand. Put the treat in front of your dog’s nose with your hand in a fist so they can smell it, but not get to it. Your dog should stop barking to smell the treat. As soon as he’s quiet, say “hush!”. (This starts to connect you’re being quiet with the command “hush”) and throw the treat a few feet away from your dog so they have to walk a few steps to get it.
Step 2: Repeat this until you can just say the command without putting the treat in front of his nose, but still throw the treat a few feet away when he listens and becomes quiet. (you want to make sure you catch the silence and then increase the time your dog has to be silent to get the treat. But be careful…if you wait too long, they might bark again)
Step 3: Say the command without a treat and just give your dog a happy “Yes!” and affection when they listen. In this final step, over time, you want to start to wait until your dog is relaxed before they get the affection and you take your focus off them. If they are still tense and look like they will bark again, wait. Be patient, calm, and consistent.
Ignore the Barking
Most helpful for these barking types: Boredom, Attention
The most valuable currency in the dog world is your attention. When they are using their bark to get it, you’ll want to ignore them. By ignoring them you’re teaching them that they will not get what they want by barking. Make sure not to scold them, or talk to them since that is a form of attention. Wait for them to give up the barking and relax, and then give them a couple of minutes of your attention, or throw the ball for them, or whatever they were asking you to do. It won’t take long for them to figure out that barking will not get them what they want.
Add More Exercise
Most helpful for these barking types: All types
Exercise is important for every dog at every age. The more activity they get, the better behaved they will be all around.
- Make sure they are getting enough physical activity. They need to do more than just be outside, they need to go on walks, run, or fetch every day. The more time your dog exercises, the less likely they are to bark to protect the house, bug you for attention, get bored and lonely, or bark to play.
2. It’s important to exercise your dog’s brain. Hiding treats for them to find, giving them puzzle games, and playing hide and seek with them or their toys are good ways to keep their mind active. There is also a great training program that focuses on easy games that will exercise your dog’s brain that we love. You can find the details HERE.
Most helpful for these barking types: Fear, Protecting
If your dog is barking in protection mode, or at things that scare her, first identify what’s causing her to bark. Maybe it’s when a big truck drives by, someone comes to the door, or they hear a loud noise. Once you know what it is, you can start to desensitize her to it with positive reinforcement.
- When you know something that makes your dog bark is going to happen (you can create your own loud noise, or have someone come to the door to help you) sit with your dog and give them treats and talk to them calmly. Continue to treat them as long as they are quiet. If they bark, stop the treats until they are quiet again.
This one takes repetition, so you need to be patient and plan to repeat this several times.
- If these things happen when your not home, consider masking the sounds with a white noise machine, fan, or music. This will help your dog be calmer and quieter when you’re not there.
Reward the Silence
Most helpful for these barking types: All types
Remember to reward your dog when they are quiet. (with a treat or positive attention) It’s easy to forget that they are doing something good when they are quiet, and not barking, but positive reinforcement, when they are relaxed and doing what you want them to do, is important. And definitely treat them if they are in a situation that usually triggers them, and they stay quiet and relaxed.
- Loud noise and excitement make a dog bark more, so don’t yell, and keep your energy calm when you’re working on these training techniques.
- Don’t wait to train your dog not to bark. The longer they do it, the harder it will be to retrain them.
- Some medical problems can cause excessive barking. If you think your dog is in pain or is having a more serious problem, go see your vet.
- Never punish your dog for barking. You will make much better progress using positive reinforcement, and your dog will be much happier in the long run.
- Be patient. Remember that barking is hard-wired into dog’s brains, and it might take some time to reteach your dog.
Barking is a very common, natural behavior for dogs, but it needs to be saved for the right time and place. A dog that barks all the time can be overwhelming. Taking the time to work with these training techniques will take the stress out of owning a barking dog, and make your dog’s life calmer and happier.
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