How do you stop dogs from barking?

Barking is a very normal behavior and pretty much all our dogs do it, whether it’s for a bit of attention or they’ve spotted the neighbor’s cat walking past your house. Sometimes though, barking can become excessive, which is when it needs to be addressed. 

There are multiple things you can do to ensure your pup doesn’t continue this behavior.

Barking could just be attention-seeking behavior. They may have figured out that by barking, they get a response from you. To limit this, try to ignore them when they present this behavior as much as possible. In this case barking is often their form of demanding something, so by completely ignoring them you are not giving in to their demand. Make sure you give them lots of praise when they are quiet—you could also introduce treats as an incentive too. This should help them learn that barking doesn’t get them the rewards they want. 

With perseverance, this method can work really well. Don’t worry if it takes them a little while to grasp, as dogs who have been barking for attention for a longer time period may struggle to get out of the habit. 

You could also try diverting the behavior with another action, such as making them sit or go to their bed. This would slowly teach them to associate their barking with that action, rather than continuing to make lots of noise. You could start this training off slowly, by using treats (as per usual!). If they begin to bark, either make them sit or go to their bed—or another action of your choice—then reward them with a treat. Consistently do this until they understand that following these new rules gets them rewarded. Once they get good at this, you could begin to phase out treats and replace it with lots of praise instead. 

Your dog may appear quite reactive when spotting strangers or other dogs out of the window, causing them to bark a lot. If this is a regular occurrence, then it might be helpful to try and limit these views from your dog. If they are constantly barking at things they see outside the window, then close the curtains and take them away from that spot. They will eventually learn that they cannot continue with that behavior as they will be removed from the situation. 

The need for exercise crops up a lot when talking about reducing unwanted behaviors. Barking is no exception, as your dog may simply be trying to tell you that they need more time to stretch their legs and have a run around. If this is the case, try taking them on longer walks to wear them out. You could also incorporate new games into their walks to make them more exciting and stimulating.

Whatever method you decide works for you and your pup, it’s important to note that telling them off for barking is not an effective deterrent, despite how annoying it can be. Because the bark may be a response to something they are struggling to understand, barking could make them more confused in that situation and encourage it more. So it’s better to be calm and gentle with your dog to prevent them from getting more wound up.