Puppy barking might be cute the first time you hear it, but that cuteness quickly fades away when the barking becomes nonstop. If a puppy’s bad behaviors aren’t corrected, they might just keep barking every chance they get. For many puppies, they might think they’re doing a good thing by letting their humans know that there’s something outside. So, it’s your job as a dog parent to teach your puppy that barking all the time is not acceptable.
Why is Puppy Barking a Problem?
Puppies bark for a variety of reasons, but it’s only a problem if it gets out of hand. Some puppies simply like to hear the sound of their own voice while others legitimately want to alert you of something. Therefore, their barking should only be corrected if it’s getting out of hand or if they’re barking for no particular reason.
Of course, young puppies tend to bark much more frequently than older dogs. They often bark out of excitement, such as when they want to play or when they see something new and exciting. However, some puppies also bark out of fear. This might occur if your puppy is feeling uncomfortable or if they see a human or animal that seems dangerous to them. Fear barking should never be punished, but instead, you should try to find the root of the problem. Eliminating fear factors can help your pup feel more at ease.
If you accidentally encourage your puppy’s excited or territorial barking, they might start to bark at everything. Every time they see a dog or every time you come home, you might be faced with endless barking. For your dog, it seems like all fun and games, but for you and your neighbors, it can become quite loud and annoying. So, if your puppy starts barking and you can’t get them to stop, that’s when it becomes a problem.
Tips for Stopping Puppy Barking
A common reaction for many humans is to yell at or scold a puppy that’s barking. However, that is actually one of the least effective methods for redirecting the behavior. Instead, here are some helpful tips that can help you with your puppy’s training.
Tip #1 – Understand Why Your Puppy is Barking
The best way to teach your puppy not to bark is to start by understanding why your puppy is barking. Puppies sometimes whine or bark when they’re scared, hurt, or sick. If you scold your puppy for barking and it turns out to be one of those reasons, your puppy will only become too scared to tell you when something is wrong in the future. Only correct barking that doesn’t involve a physical or psychological issue for your dog. Sometimes, it can be difficult to tell the difference, so pay close attention to your puppy’s behaviors and surroundings when they bark.
Tip #2 – Don’t Yell
If your puppy’s barking is becoming annoying or unbearable, it can be difficult not to yell. But yelling actually encourages the behavior. When you yell, it sounds like you’re barking with them. So, if you use a command like “quiet” to fix their barking, make sure you keep your distance from them and say it in a calm, quiet manner.
Some good alternatives for yelling at your dog are ignoring the barking, redirecting them with a different command, or desensitizing them to the trigger. For example, instead of outright telling your dog to stop barking, you can distract them with another command like “lay down,” and reward them when they do that instead of barking. Also, if your dog always barks at other dogs, then you should get them to spend more time around other dogs so they can see that there’s no reason to bark.
Tip #3 – Be Consistent
Being consistent is crucial for any type of training. Everyone in your family should respond to your dog’s barking in the same way. If one person instructs them to be quiet while someone else gives them attention when they bark, your dog can easily become confused. So, go over the rules with everyone in your household to provide your dog with a better learning experience.
Tip #4 – Remove Potential Triggers
Some dogs always bark at the same things, such as certain noises or other animals. If possible, you should try to eliminate those stressful triggers. If you can’t eliminate them fully, then prepare for them. For example, if you know your dog is going to bark at the mailman, get a treat ready and reward them whenever they see the mailman without barking. The same can work for other triggers like hearing the doorbell, being around cats, or seeing unfamiliar people. The more you work on training with your dog, the better you should be able to understand what makes them bark.
Tip #5 – Conduct Positive Training Sessions
Any training you do with your dog should be positive. As mentioned earlier, yelling will only make the matter worse, especially for barking. Instead, set aside training sessions to help your dog learn and become exposed to triggers. If your puppy always barks at the door when someone comes over, you should practice knocking on the door and ringing the doorbell. If your dog doesn’t bark or if they stop barking when you give them a command, reward them. This can help them associate their triggers with positive things.
Also, if you suspect that your puppy will bark uncontrollably during an unfamiliar situation, give them something to chew on. If they’re chewing on a bone, they can’t bark at the same time. However, if you cannot seem to find a pattern in your dog’s barking, then you should keep training treats on you at all times. That way, you can catch them in the act and reward them as soon as they listen to you.
Tip #6 – If Your Puppy Barks at You, Ignore Them
It’s common for dog parents to run to their puppy if they hear barking. However, this only teaches your puppy that barking will help them get more attention. This could lead to them barking only to get you to come to them. So, as much as you want to be near your puppy at all times, you can’t let them think that barking is a suitable way to seek attention.
If your puppy barks, make sure you say your command calmly from afar. Don’t run up to them because then you’ll only be giving them what they want. If they bark directly at you with the intention of getting your attention, then you should ignore them and walk away. This works especially well for crate training. Puppies commonly whine or bark while in their crate, so ignoring them and leaving the room is the best way to get them to stop.
When to Turn to a Professional
Correcting puppy barking can be difficult, especially for a puppy who has already developed a bad habit of barking. Following these tips is a great way to work on training, but some puppies will put up more of a fight than others. You should always start by training your puppy yourself, but if the barking only seems to get worse the more you try, then you might want to seek a professional’s help.
Attending puppy classes or working with a dog trainer are great ways to get your puppy to listen. They’re often more expensive and time-consuming than at-home training, but they’re certainly worth it for difficult pups.
When you bring home a puppy, you should go into it knowing it’ll be hard work. So, you shouldn’t cut any corners when it comes to training. If your puppy has a barking problem, it’s important for you to get on top of it to help them behave better and bond with you more. Remember, a well-trained puppy is much better for everyone involved.