How To Stop Barking Dogs

Barking is one of the most natural and hardly wired behaviours dogs do. Dogs bark for a variety of reasons, but it can become a problem when it starts annoying neighbours and even you as the owner. As in all behaviour problems I try to solve, I like to look at when the dog is barking and what is causing it to bark. These are the reasons and steps I employ to stop barking dogs

Why Is It Barking?

Generally, it is because they are becoming under stimulated and this behaviour becomes exacerbated as an outlet as other instincts are not being satisfied or being suppressed. The popularity of anti bark collars are high because of their immediate effect in stopping the dog barking. The act of barking does not become reinforcing as it is met with an electic shock or a spray for dogs using citronella collars and these tools can assist to stop barking dogs.

how to stop barking dogsThe dogs will become collar smart as they will learn that there is no barking when the collar is on, but as soon as it is off, the flood gates open. In situations where the dog is put on notice by council or local law officers, the anti bark collar is effective in stopping it immediately, but what needs to be done is a program to put the barking on cue, then a quiet command to cease the barking.

So in other words, teach the dog to bark on command using positive methods then once you have that on cue, teach the dog to be quiet on command. Now lets look at some steps we can use to stop your dog barking.

Where Do You Start To Stop Barking Dogs

To teach the dog to bark, you need to find something that will excite the dog. If it has a favourite toy, put the dog on the other side of a fence or tether it to a stationary object and tease the dog with the toy. Try to elicit a bark then, reward the dog with a treat. If you are struggling getting a bark, reward a whimper or any noise that could lead to a bark.

Make this session go for 5 minutes only. Then try to do a few sessions per day in trying to elicit a bark from the dog. It will generally take 2-3 sessions until you get a bark. As soon as you get a bark, give a huge reward with food or even give the dog the toy to play with. At this stage, don’t use an commands.

When you are getting the dog barking pretty well instantly upon teasing it, begin using a word just as you start the excitement. Something like ‘SPEAK’, or ‘TALK’. Keep saying the command and tease until the dog barks, then reward with food and praise.

A good hint is to click your fingers at the same time when saying the command. The clicking is associated with the command then eventually, you will be able to make the dog simply by clicking your fingers.

Once you have the barking command on cue, get the dog continually barking by one command. Try to get multiple barks from one command or get a string of barks in a row before rewarding. Eventually, the dog will do a good 5-10 second string of barks from one command.

Then look for the exact moment the dog is quiet then at that exact moment, say the word, ‘QUIET’ and then reward profusely. Then rinse and repeat. Once you are having the bark command on cue every time, try to slip in the quiet command whilst the dog is in a full blown barking act. You might need to give a few commands for them to be quiet on the command but as soon as they do…reward profusely.

Shaping To Stop Barking Dogs

Essentially what you are doing is shaping the dog very gradually into the two commands ever so slowly but because you are using a reinforcement schedule, that behaviour will be quite strong as will the commands.

If you make this part of your training routine, the dog will be less likely to indiscriminately bark as it will wait for the training sessions to do the barking and you have effectively placed the bark and quiet command on cue. Easy Hey?

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Updates

For those who who would like to know how to use clicker training and positive methods to stop your dog’s barking. I have found a series of  4 exceptional videos that go into some good details on how to use clicker training and classic conditioning techniques.

Other Links

RSPCA Australia

47 Comments
  1. hi, my dog barks all the time if i tie her up outside a shop and need to go in.I tell her stay or I try just walking away and no achknowledgement…neither work.
    what should I do so that I can take her walking and waiting?
    thanks very much

  2. I would appreciate your help – when my dog (Jack Russell/Maltese X) escapes, he barks incessently at the top of the drive. When you call him back, he runs the other way and keeps barking. We can never catch him (he hates the care) and only comes back when he is ready and the neighbours are at their wits end. He is usually quite obedient and comes when he is called EXCEPT when he escapes from the back yard. He also barks when he is outside in the yard, but that’s not so much of a problem.

    Katie

  3. Hi Katie,

    Thanks for contacting me. The reason your dog is doing this is because it is reinforcing to him. The rushing up the driveway and barking (at whatever, potential threats, the postman..butterflies..)whatever it is, there is a reinforcement there for him. Then when you calll him, he chooses not to come. This is simply…a competing motivation. What he is doing is more reinforcing than coming back to you.

    When ever you have a problem, the best way to stop it is to train the behaviour on cue. This is what I would recommend.

    1. Go to Bunnings and buy 10m of ski rope. Put clip on one end that will connect to his colloar, put a loop in the other hand to hold onto.

    2. Get something really really tasty, like chees, bacon, salami, something that he will do his nut over and chop them in very very small portions and put in a pouch, bowl whatever that you can acces quickly

    2. Attach the rope to his collar and let him out.

    3. As soon as he moves 1-2 metres, call him back, get on your haunches, get excited, real excited…and if he doesn’t move towards you, reel him in and praise him profusely and give him a reward with the food treat.

    4. Rinse and repeat. Do not let him progress beyound that 1-2 metres until he is recalling without you having to pull him back with the line.

    5. When you are consistently getting him coming back at 1-2 metres, increase to 3-4, then 5-6 and so on. Do not do this training anymore than 5-10 mins.

    6. Try and do this a couple of times per day.

    What you are doing is reconditioning him to what the situation is. You are reconditioning him under your terms where you can control the situation. Do it in baby steps. If he does not respond at a certain distance, you have gone to far with your distance and you pushing him to win. You always want him to win and you also…every situation.

    Always manage the situation. He will have a completely different expection to your recalls. Always always have food initially. Do not see this as bribery, this is conditioning. Eventually, reward every second..third recall..and replace with lots of pats, high voices, praise….he will LOOOOOVE coming back to you then.

    The problem in overcoming any behavioural problem is giving a different expection to a given situation and make sure your motivatioin exceeds all others. Eventually you will be able to have him recalling in any situation. It is a simple formula. Put in time, effort and you will reap the rewards.

    Good luck, let me know how you go.

    Glen

  4. I have a neighbour who thinks that dogs should not bark AT ALL and as my moodle has barked for more than a couple of minutes on two ocassions over 6 weeks he has complained to the council. The barking is more about protecting the property than anything else. I made the mistake of letting her sleep inside (yes, on the bed), and follow me round as she was a malnourished confused little dog rescued from the pound and needed some extra care. I have stopped this and she now sleeps with the two other dogs, and I do the ignore, come when I call etc. I start obedience training in 2 weeks, but is there anything you can offer in the meantime?
    Thanks

  5. Thank you so much for this guide. My Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has been staying with my parents for the past 8 months and has picked up some really terrible habits from her “grandpa” (can you tell that she’s a bit over-loved?)

    I’m housesitting now and she’s been driving me mad with night-time barking, which I’ve been reinforcing knowingly by squeeking a toy to distract her. When it’s 3AM you’ll pretty much do anything to get a damn dog to shut up.

    One of the other guides I read suggested flicking water in her face. It worked alright, but she recoiled in a way that made me feel uncomfortable (she’s sleeping on the end of the bed, so she’s obviously none-the worse for wear).

    I MUCH prefer this method. It’ll be far more enjoyable for both of us.

    Thanks for the above tips on recalling, too. She’s never been good at coming when she’s called.

  6. I have a Beagle who has recently started barking at the dog next door through the fence. We have blocked the area off so she cannot see the dog, and have tried many things to get her to stop. She reponds to the command “No” and also if we spray her with water, the issue is that as soon as we are out of sight the barking starts again. She has another dog in the yard that loves to play with her but she’s not interested, she also isn’t into any toys so it’s difficult to find distractions. The neighbours haven’t started compaining yet, but the barking is driving us crazy so I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. Do you have any recommendations?

  7. I could also use some advice. I was sad but not surprised when I got a letter from council today saying a neighbour had complained about my puli’s barking.

    He is getting worse, and I suspect my reprimands are making it worse, but I don’t know what else to do. He gets plenty of exercise (2 walks a day, obedience class on Sundays, agility on Mondays!) but barks at everyone who walks past. I put up a fence he can’t see through, hoping that that would improve things, but to no avail.

    I have read things that talk about teaching a dog to speak as a control mechanism, but am concerned that if the neighbours heard me trying to do that they would be even more upset! And he doesn’t bark much when we go out at all (except if a dog approaches him when he’s on lead, when he gets territorial/defensive as well).

    Any tips/suggestions welcome, as I am wondering if I need an anti-barking collar, which I never dreamed I’d consider resorting to!

  8. Hi Nic,

    Is the barking happening when you are there? If so, you need to be able to reinforce your command to stop barking..ie NO, with an aversion of sorts if the barking continues. When using any sort of aversion (or punishment technique) it must be of a nature that it has a profound effect on the dog, otherwise, the aversion will be simply nagging. You can use a throw chain to reinforce your NO command.

    1. So when the dog is barking, get some chain from a hardware store and put it on a keyring so it makes a rattle noise.
    2. If possible, set the dog up with another dog walking past (a friend perhaps with their dog) and get in proximity to use the chain. When the dog barks, give the command NO and throw the chain right near the dog.
    3. If the dog stops praise him and pat him, if he continues, throw the chain again.

    Alternatively, you could use a remote collar that only administers a correction on your say so.

    Or, you may have to bite the bullet and purchase a remote collar. I had a friend that resisted that option for months as her dog received numerous complaints from neighbours about the dog. It came to the crunch, had to do something, or get rid of the dog. She bought the collar, problem fixed in 10 minutes.

    Good luck in your decision Nic.

  9. Hi,
    I’ve just found out that my Great Dane x Bull Mastif barks very late at night while I’m asleep and it wakes up the neighbours.
    I’ve never heard the barking and it has never woken me or my housemates.
    I think this maybe because of the echo against our house and across the road – which probably makes it even more annoying.
    As I can’t hear and don’t notice his barking, how do I stop him annoying my neighbours?
    Our backyard is split into two, the upstairs concrete entertainment area, and the downstairs grassed area which includes his kennel and shed.
    He used to have full access to both halves however we’ve put a gate in and he now only has access to the bottom half. It’s not feasible for him to come upstairs again but I think this maybe when he started barking.
    Can you help?
    Thanks heaps,
    Madi

  10. hey i would love some advice.

    My staffy loves to bark at night over nothing. she is a it over a year old and has 2 other dogs to play with and loads of toys, so im pretty sure she is not bored.

    i get little sleep as i am always getting up to tell her off. lately i have been bringing her inside at night (normally she sleeps outside) just for her to stop barking. i dont like the idea of barking collars and i have tried spraying her with lemon juice and water each time she barks..

    thanks

  11. Our little dog barks at night, when we are in bed. We let him on our bed until we are ready to go to sleep, putting him in the laundry in his bed and closing the door. He then goes outside and barks at seemingly nothing, I go outside and get him to stop, by smacking him and telling him to stop barking. He continues to do this throughout the night, until I close his dog door so he can no longer go outside. What advice can you give me to get him to stop totally? I have been doing some research and considering teaching him the Speak command and then a Stop Barking command, do you recommend this?

    Thanks

  12. The thing with this situation is that allowing the dog to move around freely in and out of the house is becoming a problem for you. As a dog, he probably perceives it as his job to ward of intruders, (butterflies, bugs, moths, lizards) things moving outside. Number 1, I would not allow the free access around the house at night. I strongly advocate the use of a crate, where the dog has its own place to sleep at night, and also a place to contain him when need bed. In most situations Andrew, management of the situation is better than using punishment techniques. Try to let go of the (he like being allowed to run around at night), the thing is, he will love anything he is allowed to do. Take away the stimulation, you take away the problem. Good luck.

  13. Management of this situation is needed Amy. If you don’t like the use of collars, then I would recommend the use of a crate or confine her to an area where she is not stimulated by barking. In any given situation where the dog is performing the behaviour, which is completely natural for them, we have to manage it, by changing the environment..removing stimulus, or using an aversion to stop the dog every single time it barks so it does not becoming reinforcing. A bark collar will achieve this for you. Good luck.

  14. Hi there. I have a small foxy cross (supposedly with a staffy but you can’t see much of that). He’s a very exciteable dog and highly affectionate.
    He’s also ten years old but acts like a 2 year old.
    The problems started, or at least got a LOT worse when we moved into a new house.
    Unfortunately we have no alternative but to confine him to the spare bedroom for 7 hours or so twice a week while we are both at work.
    We have 3 issues with this arrangement other than the fact it’s a bit cruel to him. Firstly, we recorded him while we were out and discovered he’s barking most of the time. The 2nd issue is he seems to be jumping at the door a lot and scratching the paint and the third problem is that he jumps so much he drinks a lot and he’s been peeing everywhere!
    I’m concerned he is anxious in the new house but I don’t know what to do. He has a little bed to lie on – would a crate help? Is there something that might sooth or distract him? Or should I get an anti-barking collar? I’m concerned the neigbours will complain soon.
    Any advice greatly appreciated! Thanks.

  15. Hi Madi,

    It sounds your dog is just doing his job…any suspect intruders, noises etc and he is warding them off. However, this sounds like it is becoming a problem.

    Remember, dogs have inherent instincts, and he is just acting normally, all we have to do is manage the situation. I know a lot of people cringe when I say this, but crating him is probably the best for the situation and also, the best for him (I am presuming it is a male.) Confining him at night is a very natural thing for dogs to do and won’t take long for him to accept. This will restrict him to the stimulus that is causing him to bark at night. Don’t think this is cruel, it is far from it…it probably one of the most natural things for a dog to accept…a place to chill, have as their own and relax.

    Other alternatives are to put a barking collar on him at night so the reinforcement he gets from the barking will no longer exist, but I know a lot of people have an aversion to this. In any situation, try to think management first. Remember, dogs will get used to different routines over time, it just means you have to persevere is all. Good luck.

    Glen

  16. Hi Edie,

    When you are trying to teach your dog something, always set the dog up to win. Don’t throw it in the deep end. Work backwards in what you want the dog to do. So in this situation, you want your dog to sit quietly whilst you walk away from it. So work with doing it gradually in training situation.

    1. Tie the dog up, take one step away, come back and praise (or reward with a tasty treat)
    2. Repeat and slowly increase your distance away from the dog whilst it is remaining calm. Each time, come back and praise profusely (or treat, which I recommend)
    3. Each time, you should be able to increase your distance away from the dog whilst it is remaining calm, if it stresses, you have gone beyond it’s threshold, and you need to regress in your distance.

    What you are doing is shaping your dog to behave how you want it do when you walk away from it. Don’t expect the dog to know what you want it to do straight away in any given situation. Some dogs just do, but some dogs don’t. The dogs that don’t need gradual exposure to stressful situations and an understanding that their owners are going to return to them, and that the calm behaviour whilst you are away is what you want from the.

    Good Luck.

    Glen

  17. Hi Glen,
    A great website mate!
    I’ve been on deployment overseas for going on 7months now and I have just spoken with my wife who was in tears about a letter she received from a neighbour complaining in a nasty tone about our 4 year old German Shepherd barking when she is not at home. I can understand their frustration but perhaps a knock on the door and chat might have been better. We used to live in a fairly large property where the barking wasnt much of a problem but being in the Defence Force it seems I’m never long in the same place and unfortunitly this time I’m in a tiny house and yard. From the letter it describes that the barking starts in the morning a couple of hours after my wife has left for work and will continue on for hours on end. It is apparently alot worse when it is raining (I have heard has it been raining alot in Sydney over the past 7 months). Our Shepherd sleeps inside at night and is never far away when we are at home, she is also easy to stop and generally stays quiet when my wife is at home. It is just a problem when no one is at home, it’s obviously bored. The shepherd is walked pretty much every night and has plenty in the yard to try and keep her entertained, we are just out of ideas. The wife is going to buy a Citronella collar to see if that at least provides an immediate effect. Would you be able to help with some advice that my wife could try besides the collar? I’ve got a month to go here, so I’ll help immplement any advice you can give when I return. Thanks mate.

  18. Hi, I just got a letter from one of my neighbours complaining about my dog barking.
    This is the first we’ve heard about her barking since she doesn’t bark when we’re home unless something is unusual & not very common, like when the other neighbours had repairers on their roof and then usually I sit outside with her and reassure her everything is okay which has worked with some common occurrences. We haven’t deterred this type of barking because we know she’s just letting us know there may be something wrong. She did sometimes bark at night when she was younger if she was scare but has since stopped this despite the dog across they street doing it. However, I do not know what she’s like when I’m not at home and she is a bit of a skittish dog. I prefer not to use a barking collar but how do I train a dog that won’t bark when I’m around? Does an outdoor ultrasonic deterrent work?

    Thanks

  19. i would like to teach my dog to bark on command but I’m afraid if i do it she won’t bark at intruders i really need some help trying to figure this out

    please help and thankyou so much

  20. Hi
    I need some advice about my barking dog Jack. He barks every morning at 6am when my husband leaves for work. He hears the car leave and starts continously. I have tried alot of training techniques but nothing seems to be working. Some mornings he can bark for an hour straight and our neighbours are getting extremely annoyed. Please help !!!

  21. Hi Kate,

    Have you looked at getting an anti bark collar? This will definitely stop the barking for sure.

  22. Hi, i have a staffy that constantly barks at my next door neighbours. They had a squeaky garage door and noisy grandkids that constantly set off the dog, so much so that as soon as she heard the sound of the door she would bolt off and bark constantly until I called for her, and not stop at all if i was not at home. She only barks at the one set of neighbours and never at the other sides. They are trying to sell their house and the dog constantly barking at them are scaring away buyers. They are offering no suggestions or help regarding this problem (desqeaking the door) and expect me to fix this. Is there anything i can do apart from getting a collar??

  23. Hi Adam,

    My neighbour’s dog barks continually from the minute they leave for work until they return home at night.

    As it is not my dog, and the neighbours do not believe me, what can I do please.

    I am getting very desperate. I do not wish to harm the dog …!

  24. Hi My name is Natalie, i have a nine month old black labrador who want stop barking I have tried everything. Bark collar, water in the face comands and excerise. I beleive it is because our other old dog is inside. We can’t put him outside because he has seizure during the nights.The labrador barks at the door in the morning and even though I put our other dog out side it doesn’t stop her. How do I stop her from barking, it is upseting me and my neighbours.

  25. HI there,
    We have two dogs, a golden retriever and a kelpie. Since we moved into our new home our two dogs began barking at the dog on the other side of the fence. We have lived next to dogs before but this dog seems to bang and crash into the back fence and now the three of them bark as soon as they sense the other on the other side.
    Our two are getting pretty good at coming from the fence when called but we are not always home to call them from the fence.
    Any ideas besides the collars, we do need some help.
    Kind regards
    Steve

  26. i need some help,i have recently taken on a staffie cross and she suffers badly from anxiety and barks constantly from when i am out of sight till i get back and its driving my neighbours mad,i have tried the telling no bit then closing the door on her but to no luck and i might have to send her back to the pound any help is greatly appreciated

  27. Hi, I have a 1 & 1/2 year old staffy we just moved house and when she was growing up she had 2 other dogs now there’s just her! When we leave her alone for the day she whinges and crys. What’s the best way of solving my problem without getting her a friend? Im afraid the neighbours are going to complain soon!

  28. hi!! we are needing some help with our dog… her barking is annoying our neighbour, he gets quite mad with us over the issue. He said she barks all day and night but we don’t agree!! Other neighbours have said she barks for a little while after we go out but if they come and shhhh her she stops. She doen’t bark much at night, but she will have a little bark when people walk past with dogs or the neighbours come out into their yard but we are quick to go and shush her. What is classed as excessive barking? We went and borrowed an no-bark collar today from the local council, is this the best thing to do…? this came on after the neighbour threatened to punch my husband in front of our kids!!! He also threatened to “take his own action” what ever that means…… I hope it’s not bait that he means!!! PLEASE HELP US!!! we have had trouble on and off over the last 4 years….

  29. Next Door
    Hi,
    People recently moved in next door and they have a dog that is barking a lot. It is right next to my washing line near a small fence. Is there anything I can do to make it quieter?

  30. Hi
    My dog is starting to bark at the back door to let him inside the house. I rescued him (bull terrier x red heeler) from the pound and at the start he was more ok with hanging around outside and keeping himself occupied. How can I get him to stop doing this?? Help me!!
    Thanks Andrew

  31. We got a 10 yr old dog from the pound early this year and he is constantly barking! We’re lucky (and surprised) that we haven’t had complaints. We used the bark collar and it would work while it was on him, but he would bark when it was off.
    He barks when there is a ball around him at all, when he hears the car pull up, when he can see us inside and we’re not with him, when we’re getting his food and now we have the neighbors poking their heads over the fence and he’ll start barking. I dintknow what happens when we’re not there! It’s not an aggressive bark but seems more of attention seeking. I just don’t know how to fix this problem and prevent complaints…………… Is it possible to ‘teach an old dog new tricks’?
    Thanks for your help!!

  32. Hi Kat, Would you mind posting your question in my dog question forum please?

    http://www.ozdogtrainer.com.au/dog-training-questions/

  33. Hi Andrew,

    Would you mind posting that question in my dog training forum please?

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  34. Hi Andrew,

    If you mind posting that question in my dog training forum please?

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  35. Hi Kerri,

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  36. Hi Tamara,

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  37. Hi Angie,

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  38. Hi Steve,

    Would you mind posting your question in my dog question forum please?

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  39. Hi Nat,

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  40. Hi Mark,

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  41. Hi Shelly,

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  42. Hi Samie,

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  43. Hi Amanda,

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  44. Hi Craig,

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  45. Hi Kenneth,

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  46. Hi Lauren,

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  47. Hi Melissah,

    Thanks for that. I am putting together a mini training course on how to use a technique called “Sound Aversion”. It is very powerful and works very well in adjusting unwanted dog behaviour. Stay tuned.

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