When it comes to the question of how to stop a dog from barking, the answer is anything but simple. First of all, dogs bark for many reasons. There isn’t one magical cure-all solution that will keep our furry friends quiet. Why? Well, because there’s more than one reason our dogs bark. Despite what some irritated owners think, they probably aren’t doing so just to annoy them.
Why Do Dogs Bark In the First Place? Most Common Reasons
First of all, dogs bark because that’s how they communicate. They want to alert you (or other dogs) of specific things. Maybe they want something or are afraid or aggravated by something. Either way, the best means of communication they have at their disposal is barking, given that we immediately take notice.
We’re Ignoring Them
By barking, dogs are trying to communicate to us that they need something. It might be food, toys, or simply our attention they are missing. Either way, they’ll bark when they feel as if we aren’t giving them what they are due — playtime, cuddles, or simply affection.
They Miss Us
If our dogs feel as if we have abandoned them, and are in distress, they’ll bark in a specific way. This type of barking is a combination of a whine and a bark, and it will alert anyone who hears it that the dog isn’t happy, which is really the entire point, as most of us flock to our dogs when we hear it.
They Are Playing
Just like kids, dogs don’t like to play quietly. Playtime is exciting and fun for them, so they advertise that by barking. What’s more, any type of excitement can trigger a barking episode. Most of us are annoyed that our dogs start barking during mealtime or when we get the leash out. But the dogs are simply excited and would like to share that with the world.
They Think Someone Is Intruding On Their Territory
All dogs have their territory. That might be your home, but it’s theirs to protect. So, when someone intrudes, it’s only logical that the dogs get upset. When we think about it, if a stranger barged into our home unannounced, we’d probably be yelling a bit as well. Barking because of territorial disputes, so to say, or because the dog is alarmed by something are the most common causes of barking.
They Are Bored or Frustrated
Feelings of boredom and frustration aren’t that different (at least if you ask dogs). If the dogs feel powerless to stop something from happening, but not necessarily scared (for example, if they can’t reach something), they’ll bark their irritated bark. The same goes for boredom. When not entertained, dogs can bark a bit of a spiritless bark.
They are Scared
Of course, dogs also bark when they are scared or intimidated. It’s their way of distancing themselves from something that they perceive as scary.
How to Stop a Dog from Barking — Best Tips and Tricks
After we’ve finally figured out why our dogs bark, we can go around stopping or even preventing it. Here are our best tips and tricks, as well as advice on how to stop a dog from barking.
Tactic #1: Diverting Their Attention:
- Give them engaging toys — for demanding, distressed, and bored barking
- Block their view — for alarm and territorial barking
- Ignore them until they stop — for bored, frustrated, or excited barking
Tactic #2: Training
- Use a white noise machine — for alarm and territorial barking
- Give out rewards as positive reinforcement — for all types of barking
- Use the hush/quiet/shush technique — for all types of barking
- Give them more chances to exercise — for all types of barking
Territorial and Alarmed Barking
What They Don’t See, They Can’t Bark At
Dogs that are particularly angry when something bursts into their territory usually bark in alarm. We can divert their attention from the “intruders” by blocking their view. It doesn’t matter what our dogs bark at — passersby, delivery people, neighbors, squirrels, etc. — blocking their view with blinds or privacy window film is a quick and easy solution.
White Noise Machines
Sure, we can block our dogs’ view, so they don’t bark in alarm at “trespassers,” but the dogs can still hear them. If the dogs keep barking at outside stimuli, we should try out a white noise machine, to block out the sounds from outside.
Bored, Frustrated, Excited, or Distressed Barking
We can’t spend all our free time with our furry friends. No matter how much we love or miss them, we simply have to leave them alone for at least one part of the day. Dogs that have a hard time separating themselves from their owners or are prone to boredom and frustration will probably spend their free time barking. That’s why it’s a good idea to leave engaging toys lying around the house for them to entertain themselves while we’re out. Toys that have treats in them are ideal for these types of situations because they keep the dogs busy, and they give them a treat for good behavior (just like we would).
If All Else Fails, Try some Tough Love and Ignore Them
Dogs that bark to attract our attention will just keep barking if they see that it’s working. So, we have to show them that it isn’t. That sounds like a simple technique, but most dog owners say that ignoring their dogs breaks their hearts. Still, we have to persevere. When our dogs bark for our attention simply because they are bored, we should walk away or turn our backs to them. Engaging them when they are barking will only give out the signal that that’s the preferred way of communicating.
We can soothe our distressed dogs with calming chemicals such as pheromone-induced diffusers. Sometimes this is the best option for dog owners who have skittish dogs who suffer from separation anxiety.
All Types Of Barking
The “Hush/Quiet/Shush” Technique
Training our dogs is a massive part of being a dog owner. We have to be able to stop our dog’s bad behavior. Since dogs don’t necessarily view barking as bad behavior, we have to teach them when it’s necessary and when it’s a nuisance. The “quiet” technique is perfect for that.
If the dog is barking in alarm, it won’t stop until the threat is gone. The same goes for excitement, boredom, and all other reasons behind barking. So, to get them to stop, we should approach them with a treat in our hand while they are still barking. We should then offer our hand to them. They’ll want to sniff it, so they’ll automatically stop barking. That’s the moment when we should say “quiet” to try to enforce the command. We should do this until the dog stops barking at the command “hush” without any treats.
Instead of punishing bad behavior, we need to reinforce the behavior we want our dog to display. The “quiet” technique is one of the examples of positive reinforcement because instead of yelling at the dog for barking, we’re giving them a treat for stopping. Every time our dogs don’t bark when confronted with a stimulus of any kind, we should reward them. That will show them which behavior is acceptable and which isn’t.
Let Them Get All Excess Energy Out
Dogs are generally quiet when they are content. So, we should give them a chance to tire themselves out so they’ll be quiet around the house. Giving our dogs more exercise, playtime, or longer walks is an excellent technique and one of the answers on how to stop your dog from barking. If the dog spends all their excess energy, they won’t have any left to bark for no reason.
A Few Parting Words
There you have it — the best answers on how to stop a dog from barking. If these techniques fail, we should take our dogs to the vet to check if there’s an underlying condition that causes the dogs to seek attention or bark in alarm. Alternatively, we can also hire a dog trainer.