Block your dog’s view: (helpful for alarm barkers and territorial barkers) a quick way to get a handle on alarm and territorial barking is cutting off your dog’s visual access to whatever is inciting him outside. You can simply close your blinds or install a temporary privacy window film that obscures the view. Place the window film a few inches above your dog’s line of sight, then gradually lower it down inch by inch over the course of several weeks once your dog seems less interested in staring out the window.
If the “Quiet” procedure is ineffective after 10 to 20 attempts, then allow your dog to bark 3 to 4 times, calmly say “Quiet,” and then immediately make a startling noise by shaking a set of keys or an empty soda can filled with pennies. If your dog is effectively startled by the sound, he’ll stop barking. The instant he does, call him away from the door or window, ask him to sit, and give him a treat. If he stays beside you and remains quiet, continue to give him frequent treats for the next few minutes until whatever triggered his barking is gone. If he resumes barking right away, repeat the sequence. If this procedure doesn’t work after 10 to 20 attempts, please see our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, for information about finding a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB or ACAAB), a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB) or a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) for guidance.
Provide door drills. Ringing the bell, knocking on the door, and arrivals or departures excite puppies or sometimes scare shy pups, so associate the location and sounds with good things for the puppy. Stage arrivals at the front door with an accomplice “visitor” loaded up with treats to toss the pup to help her stop seeing visitors as threats.
Anxiety or Fear: Dogs also bark when they are unsure or scared. They may use barking as they run away the same way a human would scream. They may also use sound as a defense mechanism to keep their attacker at a distance. Dogs learn early that the best defense is often a good offense.
Try to keep meeting and greeting under control. When you or a family member comes home, ignore your dog for the first couple minutes. When people come to the door, teach your dog to sit and wait until the person comes to him; this will bring control and anticipation to the greeting rather than barking.
What you want to do is first focus on teaching your dog the “Speak” command. This is really easy as the dog will react to you. Make sure that you practice this when the dog is not barking. After the command is learned, you want to teach the “Quiet” command. Use any trigger word that you feel comfortable with. When the dog barks, you signal him by putting your fingers to your lips and saying the trigger word. A dog naturally picks up physical signals much faster than a voice command. That is why the gesture helps. After some practice and after you hand out treats as the dog does what he is supposed to, all you need to do is calmly say the trigger word when dog starts barking and barking will stop.
If Method #1 isn’t working after at least 10-20 sessions, add a startling noise to the “quiet” command, such as a can of pennies, a bell, even a loud single clap of your hands. This should gain his attention and you can then go through the remaining steps of calling him over, asking him to sit, and giving praise and treats until the person or noise is gone. If he begins barking immediately after you release him, repeat the steps. If after 10-20 more tries the barking hasn’t diminished you may have an obsessive or anxiety situation and should seek the advice of a professional.
After several weeks, you should progress to practicing out-of-sight stays at an exit door. But even then, it’s best to use an alternate door (if possible) than the one you typically use to leave for work. For example, instead of going out the front door or the door to the garage, try going out the back door.
Think twice before ignoring. Of course another less preferable way is to ignore the barking and wait for it to go away. In a crate or enclosed area this may work (particularly with a puppy who is learning to settle) but if the dog is outside or in a large area then the barking itself can be self-rewarding. In many instances there are multiple stimuli occurring which will encourage the dog barking. In my opinion, dogs should never be left outside unsupervised or unaccompanied. Go out with your dog and do not allow him to run the fence, race down the hedgerow chasing the cars, or barking at the person walking by. Show your control and confidence in handling these situations and be the leader of your pack. Have him on a leash or a long line so that you can reinforce your commands and maintain control without shouting or becoming agitated.
Pay attention to the circumstances. Barking at the mailman teaches pups to repeat the behavior when your two-pound terror thinks, “My ferocious bark chased him away — I’m an awesome guard dog, beware!” You may want to enlist your mail carrier’s help — ask him/her to feed your pup a treat once he is quiet and praise him for being silent.
All content on this site is provided for informational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be nor can it be considered actionable professional advice. It must not be used as an alternative to seeking professional advice from a veterinarian or other certified professional.
As the owner of four dogs, two of whom are very vocal, with a third quite willing to express himself on occasion, I can testify to the domestic dog’s ability to speak. Interestingly, while wild puppies bark, wild adult dogs rarely do, at least not to the degree our canine companions do.
Now I should point out that this barking is NOT “naughty behavior” as many people think, nor has it anything to do with boredom which is why using a shock collar to try to stop this behavior is such a cruel idea. Let me explain.
Dog’s need both mental stimulation, often found in the form of training, and also physical exercise to tire them out. If these needs aren’t met, they may entertain themselves by singing the song of their people… loudly.
We just adopted a rescue chihuahua two weeks ago, and while I knew the breed was known for barking, I had no idea what I was getting into. We live in a condo building, and ours tends to bark when he hears noises from outside our unit (which I can’t control). I find myself more sensitive to the barking because I know my upstairs neighbors can hear it, and I don’t want to them to make a formal complaint. I’m going to try #1 and #3 and see how it works (he doesn’t seem to enjoy going outside, so I don’t think exercise is the key for this guy). And now I also realize that saying “no” just made him think we were joining him.
You don’t seem to understand that some people have dogs they didn’t get as puppies. Some dogs require special training like this just like people do. Not all dogs can be trained to not bark incessantly. Lucky you if that has been your experience.
Getting your dog to bark less will take a lot of time and effort. You have to realize that it won’t happen overnight, but luckily you have various tools at your disposable when learning how to get a dog to stop barking.