How to Stop Excessive Barking
Getting your dog to bark less will take time, work, practice, and consistency. It won’t happen overnight, but with proper techniques and time, you will begin to see progress.
Here are a few tips to remember as you start your efforts to control your dog’s barking.:
- When your dog is barking, say “Quiet” in a calm, firm voice. Wait until he stops barking, even if it’s just to take a breath, then praise him and give him a treat. Just be careful to never reward him while he’s barking. Eventually he will figure out that if he stops barking at the word “quiet” he gets a treat.
- Alternatively, you can teach your dog to “speak”, then once he’s doing that reliably, signal him to stop barking with a different command, such as “quiet”, while holding your finger to your lips. Practice these commands when he’s calm, and in time he should learn to stop barking at your command, even when he wants to bark at something.
- A tired dog is a quiet dog. If your dog barks when you go out, wear him out before you go. Take a long walk or run, play ball or take a trip to the dog park before leaving.
Once you know why your dog is barking, you can start working on ways to decrease his annoying habit. Here are some specific reasons why dogs bark, and how you can help lessen the noise:
Because this type of barking is often motivated by fear or a perceived threat to their territory or people, it can be lessened by limiting what your dog sees. If he’s in a fenced garden, use solid wood where possible instead of wire fencing. Indoors, limit access to windows and doors or cover them with an opaque film.
If your dog barks excessively while you’re gone, you need to provide more activities or companionship to keep him from becoming bored.
Again, exercising your anxious dog will decrease any agitation he feels so the more tired he is, the quieter he will be, so taking him for a long walk/run before you leave can be key, or if you’re going out for a long time organise someone to walk him during the day. A doggy day care may also be an option, so that he isn’t left to his own devices all day.
Providing something for your dog to do during the day also can help. Try leaving out a couple of food-dispensing toys, which come in different shapes and sizes. These can keep some dogs occupied for hours.
Never reward barking. If your dog barks when he wants water, and you fill the dish, you’ve taught him to bark to get what he wants. If he barks to go outside, it’s the same. Bang the water dish before filling it, and maybe he’ll start pushing it with his nose to make the same noise. Find ways for your dog to communicate without barking.
If he barks and you see his dish is empty, wait a few minutes, go do something else, then fill it, so he won’t know his barking was effective.