Curbing Your Dog’s Barking

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Barking is one of the ways that dogs verbally communicate with other beings. Dogs may bark for a variety of reasons: sometimes, a dog will bark because they feel territorial or protective. Other times, a dog will bark for attention or when they want something. Dogs may even bark out of sheer boredom and their yelps signify their unhappiness or discontent.

Of course, it would be ridiculous to never expect your dog to bark – that would be equivalent to asking you to never speak again. However, excessive barking from a repeated desire for attention should be avoided as soon as those habits start to form. With training, you can taper the vocal tendencies of dogs who excessively bark with the “quiet” command.

Teaching Your Dog the “Quiet” Command

  1. Get your dog to start barking. You can ring the doorbellknock on the door or bark at your dog.

  2. Say “quiet” and put a treat right by their nose. This stops the barking momentarily.

  3. Give the treat right away. You want the dog to associate the command with a treat. Of course, the treat is a short-term fix, but the treat acts as a reward for following the command.

  4. Repeat to reinforce. Slowly start increasing the length of time between saying “quiet” and when they get the treatLimit the number of times that your dog receives a treat to about 6 to 12 trials. After, put the treat away and substitute the treat with verbal and physical praise.

Once your dog knows the “quiet” command, you can use the command in a similar fashion as the “leave it” command. Both commands are distraction commands, meaning that they are supposed to break your dog’s attention on whatever they are focusing on and redirect their attention towards you. When you give the “quiet” command, you stop your dog’s barking and ask them to focus on something else.

Alternative Approaches

Ignoring the Barking

If your dog is barking to get your attention, the best way to curb that behavior is to simply ignore your dog when they act out. Reacting to your dog every time they bark reinforces the idea that excessive barking results in attention. When your dog starts barking, wait until they stop. Once your dog stops barking, offer verbal praise, and give them whatever they wanted. Keep in mind that your dog may start barking louder or more aggressively– similar to a child’s temper tantrum when they do not get what they want. If this happens, continue to ignore your dog until they stop. This may be frustrating, but nobody said that dog training was easy.

Allowing Some Barking

All dogs bark to communicate, but excessive barking can be a huge frustration in your household if left uncurbed. Dogs should feel comfortable barking if they feel anxious, fearful, or playful, but barking whenever they want your attention should be stopped as early as possible. It should be noted that this type of training is meant to correct behavior, so training will require significant patience since you are teaching your dog to disregard their previous bad habits. Finally, before you snap at your dog, make sure you understand why they are barking in the first place.

Aly DelaCoeur, UW-AAB
Aly DelaCoeur, UW-AAB is one of the founders of Wag Enabled (originally Why Does My Dog). Aly has a certificate in applied animal behavior through the University of Washington and is a certified veterinary assistant and AKC Evaluator. She aims to provide an unbiased perspective on dog training by providing practical, intelligent, and caring advice for people to impart on their canine companions