For most dog parents, barking is the most difficult part of having a dog. People constantly wonder how to stop a dog from barking and why their own dog is barking so much. It might seem like a basic part of training, but it can often be trickier than you’d expect. Every dog has different reasons for barking, so it’s important to find out what’s provoking them in order to train them as successfully as possible.
Normal Reasons for Dog Barking
For most dogs, barking is a normal way of communicating with people and with other dogs. Dogs cannot speak to us, so they have to use other methods of communication. Barking is their way of expressing themselves, similarly to wagging their tail, whining, or growling. While there are lots of ways that dogs can express themselves, barking seems to be the most common method for most pups. To find out how to stop a dog from barking, you first need to find out why they’re doing it.
One of the most common reasons for barking is alerting others of something. Oftentimes, dogs will bark when someone walks past their house or when they spot another dog. It is their way of announcing that they are protecting their home or their loved ones. However, it can get old fairly quickly for their humans.
When something scares or worries your dog, they’ll likely bark or whine more. Whether it’s an unfamiliar location or a scary sound, your dog might bark to let you know that something is bothering them.
Most dogs know that barking draws attention to themselves. So, if they’re seeking more attention, they might whine or bark to get some extra cuddles and playtime. However, the more you give into these attention-seeking barks, the more of a bad habit this will become.
You might notice your dog bark during playtime, especially if they’re running around with another dog. Some dogs are more vocal than others during this time, but it’s just how they play. Sometimes, dogs will also bark when they get overly excited. For example, if they know they’re about to go for a walk or if you come home after a long day of work, they might bark out of excitement.
If your dog doesn’t have much else to do, they might bark just for fun. Some dogs like to hear themselves, so they might bark, howl, or whine just because there’s nothing better to do. If this is the case, your dog might need more toys, exercise, or maybe even a companion.
Reasons Dog Barking Could be a Concern
Most of the time, barking might just be a habit that’s easy to fix, but other times, it could be a more serious problem. If your dog is usually quiet and good at listening, but they start barking a lot out of the blue, then it should be taken seriously. Most people just assume barking is an irritating habit, but sometimes, it can mean something more severe.
It can be difficult for your dog to notify you when they’re in pain. So, they might need to make some noise to get your attention. If your dog is barking more than usual and you’re noticing other unusual behaviors, you might want to visit your vet before correcting the barking. The last thing you should want to do is train your dog to stop alerting you when they’re in pain.
Lots of dogs can’t stand the idea of being alone, so they might bark to let you know. For example, if you spend the majority of your time at home, but then you leave for the day, your dog will likely become extremely stressed. You might hear them barking and howling even as you close the door. This behavior is not to annoy you, but it’s because they’re concerned about being left alone.
Some dogs are extremely territorial about their home and their loved ones. This could cause them to growl or bark any time another dog comes near them. This can become a problem if your dog starts acting too aggressive toward other dogs for no reason. They might think they’re protecting you, but they’re likely only scaring the dogs and people around you. Dogs that behave like this are often quiet and well-behaved on a normal basis, but they can’t contain their barking when someone invades their space.
Sometimes, aging dogs will start to bark more often. Many older dogs can develop vision or hearing impairments along with aches and pains, which could all lead to an increase in barking. Instead of trying to train them otherwise, you will likely want to talk to your vet to find a way to calm them down.
How to Stop a Dog from Barking
There are many misconceptions when it comes to dog barking. Just like with other bad behaviors, you should never scold or punish your dog for barking. First of all, dogs don’t usually respond well to negative actions because it only makes them more stressed. Additionally, you could be punishing them for trying to tell you something important or for something they can’t even control. So, there are many other methods that are more effective at stopping a dog from barking.
Be Consistent with Training
One of the most common ways to stop your dog from barking is to use a command such as “quiet”. When your dog successfully stops barking after the command, praise them and give them a small treat. However, this will only work in the long run if you remain consistent with it. Make sure you use the command and reward them every time they stop barking, rather than just doing it whenever you feel like it.
In order to catch your dog every time they bark, you’ll likely need to always have treats on hand or use clicker training to make sure you don’t give them too many treats. This training only works if the barking is a consistent bad habit, such as barking when a dog walks by or when the doorbell rings.
Remove the Root of the Problem
To help your dog bark less, you might also want to remove the thing that motivates them to bark. For example, if they’re barking in the yard, bring them inside. If they bark while looking out the window, close the curtains. Sometimes, even distracting them with other activities might work as well. Getting their mind away from the thing that’s causing them to bark is a good start, but it should likely be accompanied by training as well.
This can also work if your dog is barking at something out of stress or fear. Many dogs are afraid of things because it triggers a bad memory, so they can’t just easily overcome that fear. So, if they bark at the neighbor’s dog out of stress, avoid walking near that dog. If they bark at the sound of thunderstorms, take them into the most sound-proof room in the house. Your dog shouldn’t bark as much if they don’t have a reason to bark.
Show Your Dog That It’s Not Worth Barking at
Sometimes, dogs bark at things because they’re unfamiliar or scary. So, it’s a good idea to familiarize your dog with the thing that triggers their barking. If they often bark at other dogs, you should try to socialize your dog more so they can see that other dogs are not so bad. You’ll likely want to start with baby steps, such as rewarding your dog when they don’t bark at other dogs from a distance, and then slowly getting closer to other dogs over time. It takes a lot of time and patience, but it will help your dog feel more at ease around the thing that’s worrying them.
Since dogs often bark when they’re bored or lonely, they likely need something to keep them entertained. A bored dog is likely not getting enough walks and playtime throughout the day. Therefore, make sure you take your dog outside and let them explore new places such as a nearby park. Also, get them some mental stimulation toys, such as a bone filled with peanut butter, to keep them busy while you’re working on other stuff. That way, your dog will be too busy to bark without reason.
Ignore the Problem
This only works for dogs that bark for attention, but it can be a good thing to practice. If your dog only barks when you leave or when you don’t pay attention to them, then it will only get worse if you give into their demands. If you give your dog attention after they bark at you, they will see that as a success. Then, they’ll only bark more in the future because they know you’ll react to it. However, if you don’t react to their barking, they might lose interest and stop barking for that reason.
Work with a Professional
If your dog’s barking seems more serious than just a bad behavior, you might want to seek the help a professional. A vet can take a look at your dog to see if anything is bothering them such as an ache or sore. They might be able to find an underlying health problem that you had no idea about.
If your dog is healthy, but you still can’t get them to stop barking, then you might need to work with a dog trainer. They can help you find the root of the problem easier and they can work with you and your dog to fix it. You should try to fix the problem on your own first, but if your dog is extremely difficult, it might be better if a professional trainer handles it.
For those that have wondered how to stop a dog from barking, the answer isn’t always simple. There are a lot of different factors that go into it, depending on the reason your dog is barking. Please don’t punish your dog for barking because it’s just their way of communicating. While many people think dogs just bark to be annoying, there’s usually a deeper reason to it. So, spend some extra time with your dog and work with them to find the root of the problem.