Barking dog blog

How to Train a Dog Not to Bark or to Stop Barking on Command

Nobody wants to live with a dog that barks constantly and non-stop, but it can be tough to figure out how to train your dog to stop barking at everything that passes by the house.

While most dogs vocalize for a good reason, some seem to bark nonstop 24/7. As pet parents ourselves, we here at Alan’s K9 Academy, LLC get it: A dog that constantly barks can be a frustrating situation to deal with.

Can you train a dog not to bark? We suppose you could, but why would you want to silence your best friend? Imagine never being able to speak your mind when you want or need to!

For that reason, rather than training a dog not to bark, this post focuses on how to train a dog not to bark excessively, rather than how to train a dog never to bark.

Why Dogs Need to Bark

Barking is one of the primary ways dogs communicate with other dogs, animals, objects, and humans. If you think about it, dogs have plenty of reasons to bark — they have a lot of responsibilities on their paws. Dogs must protect themselves, their resources, fellow canine friends, family, and home. Plus, dogs must relay their fear, anxiety, and boredom, and barking is the usual mode. Of course, some dogs also whine and howl, which can add to an already noisy situation.

The best way to train a dog not to bark is to train them to interpret situations and understand when it is OK to bark versus when you need them to be quiet on command. In other words, focus on reducing the amount of unnecessary barking that goes on and on without reason.

There’s little doubt dogs have plenty to say, some breeds more than others. Although no training works overnight, addressing out-of-control barking sooner rather than later can make a huge difference in how long it takes to correct the barking solution.

How to Train a Dog to Stop Barking so Much

Each time your dog barks and gets what they want — you respond or another dog barks back — it reinforces the behavior (therefore makes it more likely to recur). Yep, you’ve helped create a barking monster. This is why patience and your total commitment to changing the behavior are key to training your dog not to bark so much. The longer your dog has had a nuisance barking habit, the more difficult it can be to change. However, keeping a level head, using positive reinforcement like encouragement and treats can help you train your pet to stop barking on command.
By first paying attention to the who, what, when, and where can help you determine WHY your dog is barking and what you need to do to reduce the behavior:

•    When and where does your dog bark?
•    Who or what does your dog bark at?
•    What triggers (people, animals, sounds, and objects) your dog’s barking?

Maybe every noise or any animal or person that passes by your home or approaches your door triggers your pet. Warning you of an impending threat is one thing, but when your dog continues to bark well after the stimulus has gone, it’s time to remove his motivation (sights and sounds) and opportunity to react. Obscure windows your pet uses to observe the comings and goings of the neighborhood with a spray-based glass coating or removable plastic film. If your dog partakes in this type of barking when out in the yard, ensure any fencing blocks his view of streets, sidewalks, and other yards. Drown out audible triggers, like fireworks, with noise your pet enjoys, like familiar music on the radio or television.

In addition to utilizing these techniques, you need to teach your dog the “quiet” command, which can help quell other types of barking, including demand or attention-seeking. We recommend training sessions with Alan’s K9 Academy, LLC to teach you and your dog proven methods that can give you the peace and quiet you’re wanting.

Teach Them Not to Bark in Certain Situations

Dogs bark for many reasons, but they typically do it when they’re feeling threatened in some way. If your dog is barking while you’re at home, they may feel uncomfortable with your absence. Confine them in a small room where they can see you around corners and through doorways and put on TV shows or music. I like to use music, as the saying goes music soothes the beast, LOL.

Dogs usually won’t bark if other dogs are present or other people interact with them. If there’s no visual or auditory distraction, then your dog will learn that nobody’s coming in through that door—and he won’t have to worry about it barking.

Always Address the Behavior

Even if your dog barks a lot, most likely, there’s some other behavior associated with it—your dog might be barking out of boredom, anxiety, or frustration.
Identifying why your pup is barking will make training them much more accessible. For example, if you notice that your dog goes nuts whenever someone visits, teach them that calm behavior is expected when company comes over—that’s an excellent way to keep things under control! If your pup tends to bark every time you leave them alone for an extended period, try leaving them with something fun like a puzzle toy or stuffed Kong—they’ll be preoccupied and calmer instead of having nothing but endless time on their hands.

Reward Good Behavior with Treats or Praise

Dogs are motivated by positive reinforcement. When a dog barks inappropriately, it’s up to you as an owner to guide them into making better choices. When your dog barks at a passerby, offer a treat or deliver some praise. If they stop barking when praised, reinforce their behavior with treats and repeat. Over time your dog will learn that good behavior is rewarded, thus reducing their need or desire to bark in response to external stimuli.

Punish Bad Behavior with Timeouts

A Timeout doesn’t necessarily mean sending your dog away. Timeouts can be accomplished by putting your dog in another room or somewhere quiet for a few minutes. You are stopping your dog from getting rewarded for bad behavior by doing so.

They won’t get attention from you if they’re barking, and they won’t be able to annoy their family and neighbors (unless they have them in their own homes).

At first, it might seem like giving timeouts is discouraging good behavior, but that isn’t true timeouts only work when they are administered immediately after a rude behavior is exhibited. As soon as it happens, yell. No! or Quiet! Clap your hands and put them away until they calm down.

Be Consistent

Make sure your dog has a consistent barking routine—meaning you feed, walk, and play with them at roughly the same time each day. This will tell them that it’s their time for some attention whenever they see someone walking by. Set limits if you don’t want your dog to bark during certain times of day, such as during sleeping hours or when people are over for dinner, make sure they know which hours are off-limits.

If they begin barking outside of these times, let them know in a firm voice (but not so loud that you scare them) that it is not okay and then ignore any additional barking for at least 10 minutes. After 10 minutes have passed, if they persist, take away something they love like toys or treats.

Start Training Young Dogs

If you’re getting a puppy or dog, one of your first orders of business is training. It would help if you started as early as possible. For young puppies check out my Puppy101 Program.

You might be tempted to ignore training sessions at first—especially if your pup isn’t trying their most complex—but it’s better if you stick with it in the long run. If they get used to an exercise as a pup, it will be much easier for them when they become an adult, and older dogs are more likely to respond well to exercises they did when younger than those they learned later on.

Start by rewarding your dog each time they perform what you want them to do, whether that means sitting or going into another room quietly.

Practice Basic Commands Early On

If you teach your basic dog commands from early on, then it will be easier for them to learn how to respond correctly when left alone at home. The ASPCA recommends teaching basic commands, including come, sit, and stay.

When you train your dog new things, always give praise as soon as they start doing something right. It will reinforce in their mind that they did what you wanted. Also, make sure that they are getting enough physical activity throughout their day; dogs with plenty of exercise tend to be more relaxed and settle down quickly when left at home by themselves.

Understand That Some Dogs are More Vocal Than Others

All dogs bark, but not all dogs bark excessively. The key is recognizing whether or not your dog’s vocal behavior is typical for their breed.

Some breeds are more likely to be talkative, so while it may seem like your German Shepherd talks a lot, if they're following breed standards and other Shepherds are just as chatty, they could be pretty standard. If you want to curb excessive barking from your dog, first start by talking with me about what seems normal for your dog’s breed and tailoring training techniques based on that information.

Also, try consulting with me how I can help you narrow down what factors in your particular situation might be causing problems.

Don’t Let Up—Even When You Think They Know What You Want

It’s easy to assume your dog knows what you want when they seem to understand a simple command like sit or come. But even with those, make sure you stick with it for another month or two.

Dogs, just like children, need time and repetition before commands sink in. And once they do, stick with them, so they have time to learn what you want when you give that command.