If your dog barks a lot, it can really drive you – and your neighbors – a little mad. You can’t make your dog stop barking completely. But with some training, you can target their barking response and eliminate it in certain situations. Here’s how to train your dog to stop barking:
1. Understand Why Dogs Bark
Barking is one way that dogs communicate. By barking, a dog can convey a series of things, like sending out the alarm about a threat, saying “hi” to a family member, or greeting another animal.
Often, barking indicates that a dog wants to play. Since dogs tend to expect a response of some kind when they bark, shouting for him to stop can reinforce the behavior.
2. Remove the Reward
If your dog gets a satisfying reaction from you when they bark, take it away. Barking is best responded to with a cool head. When your dog barks, thank them (even if this feels counter-intuitive) and then tell them to be quiet. Then, if they stop barking, reward them with attention or a treat. Training is all about teaching your dog expected behaviors and setting boundaries.
3. Mid-Bark Interruption
If your dog tends to be excessively loud while walking around the neighborhood, you might want to try a head halter leash. Gently introduce it so your dog doesn’t protest too much. Then, when you’re out walking and he barks, you can gently close their mouth.
Try interrupting your dog when they start to bark. Verbal cues may work for some, but for others, the pup’s barking can drown out their owner’s voice. If this is the case for you, try throwing a toy or using a device to make a high-pitched noise that will get your dog’s attention. The loud interruption will startle and puzzle them, and probably wasn’t the result they wanted from barking.
You can also try to redirect your dog’s behavior. When they start to bark, give them a task that directly conflicts with the act of barking, like retrieving a toy. This task, and the reward that follows, will help break the cycle of barks and rewards.
4. Make Sure Your Pup Isn’t Bored
Some dogs bark because they’re bored. They’re simply expressing their frustration, or trying to make something happen. If you think your dog may be bored, try to challenge them with new games or toys.
There are some dog toys that can occupy them for hours. It doesn’t have to be fancy or complex! It can be as simple as filling a Kong toy with peanut butter. Your dog will be absorbed for hours trying to get the peanut butter out – and when their mouth is full, they won’t even be thinking about barking!
Training a dog to bark less takes time, and not every technique works for every dog. These are just a few tips for how to train your dog to stop barking to get you started. Give each method enough time before hopping to the next one. But, don’t give up!