stop dog barking header

How do I stop my dog from barking? That eternal question muttered by new puppy owners in the UK since pet dogs were first introduced.

Recently due to the global pandemic, dog ownership in the UK has shot way up. With this large spike in ownership comes a large spike in the question of how to stop a dog barking.

We recently got asked, along with at least 100 other similar questions, about dog barking:

I have a 6 month old Staffie and he has been great so far. Lately though he has been barking at pretty much everything and the neighbours have had enough. How do I stop my dog from barking?

John S, London, UK

So lets get to the bottom of how to stop dog barking.

In order to get your dog from doing any unwanted behaviour we first must understand why that behaviour exists. Asking the question of ‘why is my dog barking’ is key to answering ‘how do I stop my dog barking’.

Why Do Dogs Bark?

Why do dogs bark and how to stop them barking

Much like every quirk or behaviour that your puppy or dog exhibits, pinpointing the reasoning is a key first step.

Every behaviour can be explained and either attributed to a natural instinct or a learned behaviour. Either eventuality can be corrected.

Dog barking is a great example of this.

Barking is certainly a natural instinct for dogs of all breeds for a variety of reasons but many have learned this behaviour through their owner or environment. Dog’s will always maintain the natural instinct will always be there for your dog, any and every dog can be trained to not bark.

It is important to know the reason for the barking before implementing the fix to keep your dog consistently quiet. Failing to remove a reason or incentive your dog is exposed to is fighting a losing battle no matter what behaviour you are training.

Below we have listed the top 7 reasons as to why your dog is barking so that you can identify it and correct where you can.

1. Introducing Themselves

Your dog may be barking just to simply introduce itself.

Dogs of all breeds have been known to use barking simply as a communication technique when greeting new humans or other dogs.

This behaviour can be seen in dogs where their body is relaxed, tail is wagging and the barking is aimed at the new person or dog.

2. Feeling Lonely

Dogs left alone will often experience separation anxiety. Because of this, the anxiety is often displayed in actions of chewing and barking.

Whilst most dogs will become accustomed to being alone over time and repetition, they still may experience the unwanted feeling of being lonely. Many dog breeds are more accepting of being alone than others as a natural trait but loneliness can strike any breed.

For example: breeds such as the Pug, Labrador Retriever, Basset Hound, French Bulldog and Chihuahua are all reportedly more natural with being alone where needed.

Whereas in contrast, the Affenpinscher, Border Collie, Bichon Frise, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Chinese Crested are not naturally OK with being left alone.

This is widely varied and contradictions can be seen in all dog breeds. This is because any breed can be trained, it just may be easier with some dog breeds over others.

3. Feeling Scared

Reacting through feelings of fear has happened to us all at some point in our life.

Your dog is no different. Your dog may be barking as she/he feels threatened or is scared by an item, person or whatever. They may be trying to protect themselves and you by sounding the alarm as they the only way they know how.

Dogs like many animals use loud noises to alert their friends that there is a predator or problem nearby. This is to gain some back-up against the danger they are facing.

4. Feeling Bored

Boredom can be a very common reason as to why your dog wont stop barking.

Energetic dog breeds such as the Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd and Siberian Husky dog breeds are all prone to becoming bored if they are not mentally and physically challenged on a daily basis.

Boredom can present itself in the form of excessive barking and stopping your dog barking can be hindered severely solely because your dog is bored.

5. Feeling Excited

Ever felt so much excitement as a kid that you just had to shout or scream?

Well that’s what your dog goes through on a daily basis via barking as opposed to the screams of a child playing.

Whether your dog is ready for their walk, has spotted some snacks or is just happy to see you home after work: containing their excitement can be difficult at the best of times.

If the bark is accompanied by a visibly excited dog wagging it’s tail then the chances are he’s just extremely happy right now.

6. Seeking Attention

Dogs of all breeds, much like most humans, crave attention from those around them.

It may just be to alert you to a situation, remind you it’s dinner time or they just really need that love and affection right this second.

Whatever the reason they know the quickest and most sure fire way to get your attention as soon as possible is to bark.

7. Protecting Territory

Last but not least is the protective element of your dog.

Much like in point 3 above, dogs will bark to protect their owner and themselves.

This is mainly due to dogs trying to scare away whatever it is that has startled them and alert friendlies nearby. They do this in the form of loud continuous barking until the perceived threat has moved along.

This can be applied to what the dog perceives as their territory. Whether it’s their bed, their garden or their favourite lamp post – dog’s are naturally very territorial.

Ever heard the phrase ‘his bark is worse than his bite’? Well that comes directly from this, the bark is more of a defence mechanism and may not reflect how willing the dog is to confrontation like it may first appear.

This doesn’t take away from the fact that the dog is anxious and feels their territory is being taken over.

If you have identified the reason or multiple reasons why your dog is barking from the list above then it will be possible to now address the barking and remove the barking inducing reason identified above.

In a lot of situations it may not be possible to completely eliminate the reason your dog is barking. In these cases repetition and good training will eventually stop the dog from barking but it may take longer.

How To Stop Dog Barking?

5 tips to help you stop your dog from barking

1. Ignoring The Dog Barking

Useful for dogs above who are:

  • (1) Introducing themselves
  • (4) Feeling bored
  • (6) Seeking attention

How it works

It may sound a little difficult and a lot like a crying toddler, but ignoring your dog while they are barking can be a very effective dog training technique.

If your dog is barking for attention or demanding treats then ignoring may be the best step. All dogs are social creatures and interacting with their owner is often a cherished time for our dogs.

Removing this privilege of play and affection whilst the dog is barking will train the dog to understand that barking doesn’t get them what they want. Barking in fact achieves the opposite and they are ignored when being loud.

To reinforce this understanding in the dog it is important to give them treats and attention as soon as the barking stops. This will show the dog that when they stop barking or don’t bark at all, life is immensely better and they get what they wanted in the first place.

This technique of zero attention followed by over attention is a proven method and works relatively quickly. Many dog owners have found that this technique stops their dog barking within weeks when done effectively.

This technique is also very useful when training other preferred behaviours outside of a dog barking such as crate training and dog tricks.

2. Teaching Your Dog The Quiet Command

Useful for dogs above who are:

  • (1) Introducing themselves
  • (4) Feeling bored
  • (5) Feeling excited
  • (6) Seeking attention
  • (7) Protecting territory

How it works

The ‘quiet’ command is exactly what it says on the tin. It is a command of your choosing that you give to your dog to let them know it is time to be quiet.

Much like the ‘Leave it’ command, the ‘quiet’ command can be enforced and rewarded dependant on the dog’s behaviour at the time.

For example, telling your dog ‘quiet’ when they are barking in a strong and firm tone would be phase one. Consistently follow that up with phase two of then rewarding your dog with treats and a ‘Good quiet!’ command in a happy tone once the barking stops.

This will register in your dog’s head that barking causes a negative outcome and not barking invokes a positive one. The dog will choose the positive outcome as much as possible.

This tip would be an extension on top of our first tip and much like tip 1 above works well with other training targets.

It is important to be consistent and choosing either the quiet command or ignoring exclusively will yield better results to stop your dog barking.

3. Tiring Your Barking Dog

Useful for dogs above who are:

  • (1) Introducing themselves
  • (2) Feeling lonely
  • (3) Feeling scared
  • (4) Feeling bored
  • (5) Feeling excited
  • (6) Seeking attention
  • (7) Protecting territory

How it works

The vast majority of dogs that bark excessively are dogs that have a lot of pent up energy.

Much like children, dogs that are full of energy don’t quite know what to do or how to handle it. Dogs of all breeds will run full speed around the house, chew the furniture and bark excessively in an attempt to drain their energy levels.

Exercising your dog is an essential part of being a dog owner and you may need to take a look at how much your dog is exercising.

Allowing your dog to run around in the garden isn’t exercise. You need to be taking your dog to a large open space for at least 50 minutes a day for adult dogs. This exercise should involve either long walks, hiking or multiple sprints playing games such as fetch.

Quite simply, a tired dog doesn’t want to use more energy barking. Barking becomes a waste of energy for them and dogs that exercise regularly are far more docile than those that don’t.

A tired dog is a happy dog. Always.

4. Direct Discouragement For Dog Barking

Useful for dogs above who are:

  • (1) Introducing themselves
  • (3) Feeling scared
  • (6) Seeking attention
  • (7) Protecting territory

How it works

It has been proven that positive reinforcement dog training is way more successful than discipline based dog training. With this being said, sometimes it is not possible to positively reinforce an action when the dog doesn’t ever do the right action.

When it comes to barking, immediately removing the dog from whatever situation they are in is a good example of direct discouragement.

Much like when a dog is pulling on it’s leash traditional dog training would advise stopping or turning immediately until your dog understands pulling achieves nothing.

Removing your dog from a situation that they are barking in will also teach them in the same way that barking ends the interaction.

This can especially be useful for dogs who are feeling scared. It may be best to just remove your dog to save it from any anxiety.

When it is not possible to show the dog that they have nothing to fear, reducing the mental health impacts of leaving them in that situation is preferable.

It is very important to note that if you do this technique then your dog may very well learn to abuse the rules. Dogs are incredibly intelligent, if they know barking gets them out of a situation you may find unwanted situations like visiting the vet may induce unwanted barking.

5. Mentally distracting The Barking Dog

Useful for dogs above who are:

  • (2) Feeling lonely
  • (4) Feeling bored
  • (5) Feeling excited
  • (6) Seeking attention
  • (7) Protecting territory

How it works

When you have a case of a dog that is barking because of loneliness or pent up energy then this tip may be the holy grail.

Mentally exercising your dog can be just as important as physically exercising them. Dogs of all breeds want to be mentally challenged either through tricks or thought inducing toys.

Much like a dog that is chewing items in your home, giving them something that mentally stimulates them teaches them that there are other activities that are far more rewarding.

There are a 100’s of ways to keep your dog mentally challenged and to really unlock their intelligence. Our favourite is the Brain Training For Dogs which will keep you and your dog busy for months!

For a more traditional solution when leaving a dog alone while you are out, dog toys such as the KONG chew toy are designed to last hours and reward the dog with a tasty center.

Leaving a dog to figure out how to get to the frozen treats inside always keeps them busy for hours and leaves them ready for a nap when they are finished.

As with any training it is important to try and instil your principles while your dog is young. If you have a puppy then check out the best puppy chew toys for 2020 as way to keep your puppy mentally challenged.

Whatever method you choose or whether you decide to combine methods, be sure to keep up to date in our dog training section for more dog training tips and tricks.

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