Dogs bark to communicate. It’s a natural thing. But what do you do when a dog barks excessively?
We’re having that problem right now with Toby. He loves to stare out the window to see what’s going on in the neighborhood. But as soon as he sees someone, he barks like crazy.
He barks so much that our neighbors have commented. (We joke that he’s like Gladys Kravitz, that nosy person who’s always up in your business.)
His barking is getting pretty bad, so we’re looking for a way to correct it ASAP. After doing a TON of research, here are the best tips on how to stop a dog from barking out there.
How to Stop a Dog from Barking
1. Stay calm and don’t yell
When Toby starts going really crazy with his barking, my heart rate goes up and my first instinct is to yell at him to stop. But according to experts, that is the exact opposite of what you should do.
Why? To your dog, it sounds like you’re barking alongside them.
So as hard as it is, stay calm and keep a positive and upbeat attitude.
2. Watch for triggers
When does your dog typically bark? To get an idea of what’s setting your dog off, watch them closely to see what’s agitating them.
For example, it could be when people walk by the house. Or when they hear loud noises. Or when they’re not getting attention.
Pay close attention so you have an idea of what motivates them to bark and this will help you solve the problem.
3. Correct the behavior
After figuring out what motivates your dog to bark, the next step is to take corrective action in some shape or form.
If your dog always barks at people outside the house, close the blinds and tell them no. Or if they bark at people when out on a walk, pull them away by distracting them with a treat. Try to catch the bad behavior before it starts.
Check out this video for a great explanation:
It gets more complicated when the dog is barking for no reason. This could likely mean they are bored or full of pent up energy. And that means it’s time for more exercise. Which brings me to the next point…
4. Tire them out
You’d be amazed at how much exercise can deter barking. After all, a tired dog is a good dog, as they say.
When a dog is pooped out, they are less likely to bark from boredom, frustration or pent-up energy.
So make sure your dog is getting the physical and mental exercise they need, whether it’s regular walks, trips to the dog park, games of fetch in the backyard or whatever your dog’s favorite pastime is.
If you just don’t know how to stop a dog from barking, this is a good thing to try out.
5. Teach them the quiet command
A great way to stop barking instantly is by teaching your pup the quiet command. To get started, the first step is to get your dog to do something that might not make sense at first: ask them to bark.
When they do bark, you say “speak.” Then when they stop, firmly say “quiet” so they associate that word with not barking and give them a treat.
Soon they’ll correlate the word “quiet” with not barking and you can simply say the word to get them to mellow out.
Learn how to teach your dog the quiet command.
6. Ignore it
This doesn’t work for every dog, but if your pup is won’t stop barking and you’re pretty sure they just want attention, you could just ignore it.
Of course, this is challenging if you have neighbors close by and within earshot. You certainly don’t want to be rude, or heaven forbid, have the police called on you.
But if your dog is clearly using barking as a way to get attention, don’t feed into it.
7. Mask the sounds
Dogs often bark in reaction to sounds they are hearing. A solution for this is to mask the noise with other sounds.
As an example, you could turn the radio on or play a white noise machine.
Whenever we leave Toby at home, we put him in our bedroom and turn on NPR. We started this so he didn’t feel alone but found the noise helps cover up the sound of what’s going on outside, thus calming him down even more.
This is an especially good idea for those who live in an apartment or townhouse where you share walls with neighbors.
8. Distract them with a puzzle
Dogs often bark out of boredom. A deterrent for this is to keep them mentally stimulated.
The solution: an interactive dog toy or puzzle!
I’ve mentioned several times before how much I love the Buster Food Cube. You fill it up with a bit of food, and your dog has to push it around with their snout to disperse the treats.
When you’re trying to figure out how to stop a dog from barking, distraction is a great tool.
Another great idea is a Nina Ottosson dog puzzle. She designs toys that mentally stimulate a dog and keep their attention for a long time.
9. Reward Rover for a job well done
Positive reinforcement is always the way to go. So when your dog listens and stops barking, give them a treat! They’ll associate the behavior with something positive.
We have a container of treats on the kitchen counter so we can easily grab one if the situation calls. It makes it much easier and more instant than having to dig around in the drawer.
10. Get extra help
If you’ve done all of the above and your dog just won’t cut it out with the crazy barking, it could be time to get extra help.
There’s nothing wrong with that. Some dogs are just more spirited than others.
In fact, “How to stop a dog from barking” is one of the top questions dog trainers receive.
A good dog trainer can assess the situation and come up with a way that gets through to your dog and helps solve the problem.