Close-up of a puppy barking

Training dog to stop barking

How to train a dog to stop barking? 10 Helpful Tips

While dogs bark to communicate their needs and wants, it can be frustrating if your dog is barking all the time. It could also mean there is an underlying problem which needs attention. It’s important that dog parents learn how to train their dog to stop barking, as it can not only be disruptive to your lifestyle and household but can cause distress to your neighbours too.

In this article, we guide dog parents on how to stop their dog barking at noises, at night or in the garden by exploring their triggers. We advise how to train a dog to stop barking using various methods, as well as which techniques dog parents should avoid and why. We also look at when it may be necessary to seek professional help. Remember, although your dog’s excessive barking can be difficult to manage, rest assured that by implementing proper training, dedicating time and effort, and managing any underlying problems, you’ll be able to train your dog to stop barking.

How do I get my dog to stop barking at everything?

In order to train your dog to stop barking at everything, you first need to understand the reason your dog is barking. By identifying their triggers, you’ll learn which situations cause them to bark, and be able to prepare for managing their behaviour better next time.

There are different meanings to dog noises, and the reason dogs bark is because it’s their main method of communication. Your dog may bark to signal their needs, for example, if they are hungry, need to go to the toilet, or want attention. They may also be barking to communicate with other dogs or express feelings such as excitement or anxiety. On the other hand, dogs also bark to alert their owners about potential threats, such as intruders or strange noises.

However, in some cases, a dog’s barking can become excessive. If your neighbours are requesting that you stop your dog barking at night, this could strain your relationship and therefore it may be time to address your dog’s problematic behaviour. Your dog’s barking may also be cause for concern if you suspect that there is underlying stress, anxiety or fear, or if they’re barking out of loneliness and boredom. This can suggest your dog’s mental, social and emotional needs aren’t being met.

What is also crucial for dog parents to know is if their dog’s excessive barking is due to an underlying health issue which is causing pain or discomfort. It’s essential to look out for any other symptoms alongside your dog’s behaviours and seek treatment if you suspect something else is going on. By addressing the underlying cause of their dog’s behaviour, and how you are responding, dog parents can effectively train a dog to stop barking.

Identifying triggers for excessive barking

In order to train your dog to stop barking, it’s essential to first understand their triggers. Different triggers may affect different dog breeds and personalities, and by knowing your dog’s triggers, you’ll learn how to manage daily situations. Most commonly, dogs will bark at strangers, other animals or noises, or due to boredom or separation anxiety.

For instance, if your dog is from a guard dog breed, they may be more alert and protective, hence why your dog may bark at perceived threats - such as strangers at the door. On the other hand, if you find yourself wondering how to stop your dog barking at noises, they may be from a hunting dog breed and therefore are more sensitive to external stimuli. This is the same for if you’re wanting to stop a dog barking in the garden - they may be barking at small animals that they’re wanting to hunt. Herding dog breeds are more prone to chasing moving objects or animals, so if you find yourself trying to stop a dog barking at the TV, the sensory stimulation could be the reason why they’re doing so.

It’s also important to recognise how critical the socialisation period is for a dog’s development. The socialisation period is usually when your puppy is between 3-14 weeks of age. During this time, it’s important that dog parents help their dogs become comfortable and confident around various stimuli, such as people, animals and environments. If your dog has not had a proper socialisation period, they may be more fearful - and you may need to learn how to calm an anxious dog. They may also be less sociable and more reserved when interacting with other people or animals. It’s important to check your dog’s body language to make sure they are comfortable and relaxed in the situation.

How to start training your dog to stop barking?

  1. Early prevention

    It’s much easier to train your dog to stop barking from an early age, to prevent excessive barking from occurring. In fact, when you try to stop your dog from barking, it will often become more intense before it improves.

  2. Ignore barking

    As hard as it may be, it’s important to ignore your dog’s barking completely by not saying or doing anything, and instead looking or moving away. Any reaction or response to your dog, even a negative one, will only encourage their behaviour.

  3. Clear commands

    It’s crucial that you practise basic training with your dog by giving commands such as 'sit' and 'quiet.' Direct commands will help you to redirect your dog in situations where you need them to stop barking.

  4. Positive reinforcement

    While making sure to ignore your dog’s barking, also make sure to reward their quiet behaviour. By using a happy tone when giving your dog praise, and using words such as ‘good’ and ‘yes’, your dog will think positively of this interaction and therefore give their attention to you. This is especially effective if followed by a tasty JWB treat when they are quiet, to create positive associations and reinforce the desired behaviour.

  5. Consistency is key

    It’s important to be consistent when you’re trying to train a dog to stop barking. Any irregularity is likely to cause your dog to bark more, as they will be confused at your varying reactions to their barking.

  6. Avoid triggers

    If you know your dog is prone to bark because of certain triggers, such as through the window when people walk past, consider covering up the windows to restrict their view and reduce their barking.

  7. Divert attention

    In a situation when you know your dog is likely to bark, be prepared beforehand by talking to your dog, engaging them with eye contact to distract from the trigger, and rewarding their focus on you with a JWB treat and a toy. Place the treat or toy on the floor to divert your dog’s attention from barking.

  8. Desensitize triggers

    Desensitisation may be necessary if your dog’s trigger can’t be avoided. For instance, if your dog barks when someone knocks at the door, record this sound to play back to your dog quietly, rewarding them when they don’t bark in response. You can then slowly increase the volume to desensitise your dog.

  9. Physical exercise

    Exercise is extremely helpful to ensure your dog is receiving enough physical and mental stimulation to combat any boredom that may be causing them to bark. Make sure you know how often you should walk your dog.

  10. Socialisation

    It’s helpful to encourage your dog’s social skills by taking regular walks and interacting with other dogs. This will expose your dog to different stimulants, including children, horses, bikes, cars, and buses, as well as weather, and can help to reduce your dog’s anxiety. It can also help prevent barking when dogs are on high alert, fearful or anxious of unfamiliar situations.

  11. Patience and praise

    Learning how to train your dog to stop barking can be a long process that requires a lot of time and effort. Dog parents should practise patience with their dogs, as well as praise for progress, and be persistent in the end goal.

What to avoid when training a dog not to bark?

If you’re trying to train your dog to stop barking, it’s important to avoid certain methods that are not only ineffective but rather detrimental to your and your dog’s relationship. Although excessive barking can be annoying, shouting to train your dog to stop barking will only make them wary of you. It may cause your dog to feel more fearful of you, leading to distrust. It can even make barking worse as your dog might see you shouting as a game where you’re both being loud. Plus, your attention, even though it is negative, may still be rewarding to your dog as you are still looking and speaking to them - and this could encourage the behaviour further.

Besides shouting, other aversive training techniques such as shock or vibrating collars should never be used. These techniques rely on inciting fear and causing pain in dogs, which only leads to long-term psychological and emotional harm. This may be in the form of stress and anxiety, as well as a breakdown of a dog’s bond with their owner. It’s also more likely to increase aggression in your dog, and won’t resolve the underlying causes of your dog’s barking.

Seeking professional help

It’s important that dog parents seek professional help regarding any changes in their dog’s behaviour. Since dogs are stoic creatures, they are incredibly good at hiding pain and discomfort, which is why changes in your dog’s behaviour can be a tell-tale sign that there may be an underlying issue. It may be necessary to consult a professional dog trainer or behaviourist if your dog’s excessive barking continues despite your training efforts and routine changes. This is especially important if your dog’s barking is accompanied by other aggressive behaviours, and there are safety concerns.

On the other hand, if your dog is barking due to fear or anxiety, a professional can help identify and address the underlying cause. To select the right expert, you’ll need to look at their credentials, experience and methods. Some dog trainers and behaviourists will have experience with specific barking issues. You may also consider recommendations from local dog parents or online reviews, or by having an initial consultation to determine suitability.

No dog parent wants to be frustrated with their canine friend - we love our dogs, and we want to make sure they are happy and healthy. Likewise, dogs want to please their parents and make them happy too. While it can be difficult to manage a dog barking at anything and everything, it’s important to not blame them for their behaviour. Instead, dog parents should focus on constructive training to stop their dog from barking - with a professional if necessary. There are other behaviours that dog parents may struggle with, which is why we’ve also discussed how to stop a dog from howling.