Tip of the Month

How to Decrease Barking

Dogs bark. That’s what they do. But excessive or prolonged barking needs to be addressed. Here are some tips to decrease barking:

1. Exercise An exercised dog will have less energy to bark with. Additionally, walks around the neighborhood or park will have the added benefit of socialization.

2. Socialization Most dogs are barking at things that startle, scare or excite them. With proper socialization, those things should be minimized.

3. Reward quiet. Heavily. Frequently. With great, yummy, sticky/chewy, so they can’t go right back to barking.

Do not let your dog practice the behavior. For instance, if he barks at the mailman, do not let them sit and look out the window when the mailman comes by. Barking is frequently reinforced by the environment (which may be out of your control) so it’s best to manage your dog, so he cannot practice unwanted barking.

If your dog is barking for attention, ignore it. Any yelling or giving in to the dog’s “demands” will only reinforce the barking. Be forewarned: If you ignore your dog when he barks, the barking will get worse before it gets better.

Do not give the dog what he wants when he’s barking. This sounds like a no-brainer, but if a scared dog is barking at someone who comes over and you put him away, he got what he wanted (distance from the scary stranger). A better bet would be to put him away before the scary thing appears. Likewise, if he is excited to see someone and is barking, do not let him greet the person just to get him to quiet down. Wait until he is quiet and then let him greet.

For a dog who barks when the doorbell rings or someone knocks, practice rewarding for quiet immediately after ringing the bell. This will require great treats and being right next to the dog, so he can be rewarded before he begins to bark.

If it’s desirable to have the dog bark when the bell rings, then you just decide how many barks are acceptable then interrupt and reward heavily after the desired number of barks. That will teach the dog it’s okay to bark, say, 3 times and the treats will keep him from continuing to bark.

If the problem is that the dog barks at another family dog while playing, you’ll need to separate the barker as “punishment” for barking. For example, if Fido barks at Fluffy, you would immediately remove him from Fluffy for 30 or so seconds. He should quickly learn that he only gets to keep playing if he remains quiet.

Top 4 barking dogs: Yorkshire Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, West Highland White Terrier

schedule a training class >

return to the main Training page >