Behavior Mod.

Tips For Quieting a Barking Dog

Let’s look at a few possible reasons your dog is barking. Your dog could be barking to ask you or another dog to play; or to get your attention; or to relieve boredom or stress; to express excitement; to request something he wants; or to warn off a perceived threat. You should be able to tell fairly easily from context and behavior which of these reasons your dog has for his barking. Dogs vocalize for almost as many reasons as humans do.

If your neighbors complain that the dog barks all day while you’re away, your dog is probably barking as a source of recreation. If she barks around dinnertime or when you have something desirable, she’s making a loud request. If your dog is barking at other people or dogs, watch his body language he may be telling them go away, go away.

What should you do?

Socialization is key specifically during your dog’s socializing period in puppyhood. A good socialization program will help your dog feel more comfortable around dogs or people and for life with humans.  If your dog barks a lot when you’re not at home, or when you’re not paying attention to her, she’s probably barking for recreation or from frustration. There are several easy steps you can take to give her other, more enjoyable activities, and cut down quickly on the barking.

1. If you keep your dog outside when you’re away or when you’re not playing with him, the first step should be to bring him inside. Things are much more stimulating outside and so there’s more going on that will activate your dog’s barking. Moreover, it’s very disturbing to your neighbors.

2. Provide appropriate entertainment. Dogs need to have activities just as much as we do. They need doggy things to do, and it’s easy to provide them! The quickest and easiest way is to stuff several hollow chew toys with your dog’s daily food ration. I recommend Kongs. That way, not only does breakfast and dinnertime become fun game time, but also your dog develops a strong preference for chewing on those toys when she’s bored or stressed.

3. Is your dog barking from Excitement or Demand? Sometimes a dog’s barking is his equivalent of a little kid’s whining – they bark for attention or because they want something. At times your dog may bark out of sheer excitement, either because people or dogs are visiting, or because he’s about to get something else that he wants. The simplest way to gradually phase out this kind of barking is to ignore your dog when she does it, do not pay attention to your dog or give the desired food item or toy until your dog quiets. Do not get caught up in this trap.

I know how  this can be difficult to do sometimes, especially at first, because (1) the barking is irritating – that’s why it has probably worked in the past to get your dog attention or other desired objects, and (2) if barking has worked in the past for your dog, she’s not going to give up right away.

This is called and extinction burst. This is a normal process that even humans go through.  At first, she’ll probably escalate the barking. Since it’s always worked before, she won’t be convinced right away that it suddenly doesn’t work; she’ll think that she just needs to try harder and longer with more barking! Only after a while and some repetition will she give up on that method.  Be sure that you do also pay attention to her and reward her when she’s quietly sitting or lying down. You want your dog to learn simultaneously that (1) barking does not work to get what he wants, and (2) quietly standing, sitting, or lying down does work to get what he wants.

Quiet Training

4. Quiet Training is another very important behavior you can do. I like to put problem behaviors on cue, this way if I don’t cue the behavior the behavior will extinguish.

First, put the barking on cue, so that you can initially work on this at easier times, such as when your dog doesn’t particularly want to bark.

  1. To do this, ask the dog to “speak or bark” and then make a noise (knocking on a piece of wood or wall is usually an effective noise) that will set off barking.
  2. Ask your dog to quiet and wave a very good treat under her nose. Once she settles down and quiets you can smile praise her and give her the treat.
  3.  Repeat this until your dog begins to bark immediately upon hearing the request to “speak or bark”
  4. After she is barking reliably on request, ask the dog to bark when she’s fairly calm and praise her for barking; then ask her to “quiet” and wave a treat in front of her nose.
  5. When she stops to sniff, offer the treat smile and praise your dog. Soon you won’t need to show the treat to get her to quiet she’ll learn that the word “quiet” is a precursor to a food reward if she’s quiet.
  6. Repeat this sequence many times – no matter how long it takes to quiet the first time, it will get shorter and shorter with repetition! Once your dog gets very good at quieting when he doesn’t particularly want to bark, it becomes much easier for him to quiet on request when he’s actively barking at something.
  7. Gradually and incrementally increase the difficulty level.

The more practice, the easier it becomes.  When you can turn barking on and off anytime, anyplace as a trick, you can now start practicing “quiet” when the dog barks on his own in real-life situations.

Understand that in the beginning the dog will respond poorly to the cue, so you need to be ready.  Have some really good treats handy and go back to showing it upfront if necessary.  With each practice, you’ll no longer require to show the treat. Once this foundation is set, it will be easier for him to learn to quiet when there’s something exciting in the area.

 

For even more training and behavior tips, visit The Pee Press!

10 Comments

10 Comments

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  2. Anthony

    Apr 12, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    When you go to bed and the dog starts to bark don’t get up to. Him you are making a rod for your own back in time he will stop barking so every time you get up to him he stops he is getting your attention just don’t get up in time he should stop

  3. Linda Bevier-Vian

    Mar 25, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    I don’t mind my dog barking in the day if some one is in our yard or to say hi. But most every night when I get in bed he starts barking. He even sleeps with me. But often jumps over me and run down the hall barking. I am just too tired to keep getting up to stop him. I try say to stop. But he don’t listen. I live in a trailor park so the neighbors are close. I am a concerned that one day they may complain. I know I have lost sleep do to his barking. He is a 1 year old Cha wennie.
    Do you know what I can do to stop this night time barking. He don’t do it in the day much.

  4. April Douglas

    Mar 25, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    My dog has been harassed by our neighbors in the past, they’ve thrown things over the wall at him. Now anytime Amy of the people or dogs from that house go out in their yard he barks up a storm at them. We end up bringing him in, but we’d like to be able to leave him out their even if they are there. He doesn’t bark at anyone else. We tried a Sonic egg, it worked the first few days but now he ignores it. We’re looking to move, but in the meantime, what can we do?

  5. Carol

    Mar 25, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    My dog usually barks appropriately, such as to warn me of the approach of someone onto my property. When he’s let out to do his business, he knocks at the door to come in, and might bark-once. I was curious as to whether he barked out of separation anxiety, so I set up a webcam. Nope, he spent the day sprawled on the bed, getting up once in awhile to patrol the perimeter. I was concerned about this because he had demonstrated some separation anxiety symptoms, such as defecating inside whenever I left the house. Several stuffed Kongs, my leaving the house in stages (going out to warm up the car, coming in to get my lunch, coming back in to get my coffee, and leaving the TV on for an hour and a half on the timer) put a stop to that too, eventually. The guy doesn’t even bark at thunderstorms! However, since he is a beagle, if he spots a rabbit when we go out on a walk, he tally-ho’s in true beagle fashion and is ready to give chase. I think that’s just part of who he is, and not much is going to change that!

  6. chrissy

    Feb 6, 2013 at 8:43 am

    hi, one of my dogs is 7 now.She has ALWAYS barked in the car at motocycles and she shakes. It is a high pitch bark none stop. she goes crazy.I also can drive for hours and she will not sit in the car.She is all over the car.

  7. Judy

    Jan 16, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Some people create their own barking monsters, especially with small dogs that they can carry around and put in their purses/bags, et cetera. We recently rescued a small dog — probably dropped at the shelter because it barked constantly for the previous owner when not being held. Had another person bring me a small pomeranian that barked a lot, too. With both dogs, the owners were ‘training’ or reinforcing the barking because when the dog barked, it was picked up. The dog was training the owner!

    Crate training helped, as mentioned in the responses above. It takes a few days, and quiet time is rewarded with playtime and praise. Covering the crate (if wire) helps, too. Dogs are den animals, and they will soon appreciate their den area with their bed in it. Once the dog gets into a routine, the barking then will cease. But, sleeping with the dog again will start the cycle back probably.

  8. Jennifer

    Sep 24, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    I had a dog that did the same thing, I put a tablecloth over his crate so he couldn’t see out. It took a couple of nights, he eventually got used to the tablecloth and was quiet until the next morning when we let him out for the day. A friend had the same trouble, she tried my trick and it worked for her too. Hope this helps! Good luck! 😀

  9. John

    Sep 24, 2012 at 11:15 am

    I have a dog that was crated for the last 12 years. a few months ago my wife brought him to bed in the morning and eventually at night before I went to bed.
    For a month or so.
    I recently put him back in his crate at night and he cries and cries for hours until I am forced to take him out and put him in bed.

    how do I correct this and get him back into the crate at nite with out all this drama and no crying?

    • Shavonn

      Sep 25, 2012 at 6:17 pm

      you correct it by retraining the dog. put him in his crate periodically and leave him until he has quieted. when he’s quiet, bring him out and praise him. crate him when you leave the house and you won’t have to hear him cry and whine. i also cover my dog’s crates with blankets/sheets. just make sure there’s sufficient air flow or they get too hot. they also make crate covers. dogs like the cave-like effect it has on their sleep place. be very consistent, patient and loving. don’t use the crate as a punishment as that will make your dog upset when it’s time to ‘go to bed’. he will think he’s always in trouble. do everything to make being crated a fun and pleasant experience. another thing that has worked for me, is to start off with the crate in the bedroom. this way he won’t feel so isolated and lonely. as long as they can smell and hear you, it seems to be relaxing enough that they can settle down. i hope this advice helps. good luck!

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