It is sometimes very hard to stop a dog from barking. Barking is a natural system for communication for dogs. They may start barking for very different reasons in different situations. In order to stop a dog from barking we must first know what causes it to bark.
It is important to note that when a dog is accustomed to this habit, it is usually very difficult to change it. There are quieter dog breeds and breeds that are more likely to bark. This behavior is preset in the genes of those breeds. If your dog belongs to a barking breed, the best thing to do is try to redirect the behavior (not eliminate it). Manage their environment in such a way to reduce the annoyances that cause their barking. If you really want to stop your dog from barking you have to be very patient and understanding.
In this article we will give you some tips to stop a dog’s nuisance barking.
With this said, in more severe cases, you should see a specialist to receive specific guidelines for your case.
Causes of dog barking
In order to stop your dog from barking you must first correctly identify the cause of the barking. We detail the most common:
- Stress: Before getting to work on stopping our dog from barking, we must ensure that we cover our dog’s needs 100% and that we are in compliance with the 5 freedoms of animal welfare. We are talking about routine walks, eating and relationships with owners among others. If any of their basic needs are not met, our dog may be trying to release accumulated stress. In very extreme stress conditions, cruel treatment, excessive loneliness, little space or frustration, our dogs may use barking as their only means of escape and a way to express tension.
- Excessive loneliness: Dogs are social animals, they need to communicate and interact with their environment constantly, this is even more true when it comes to very active dogs. In nature, a dog would live with other dogs 24 hours a day. Even when relaxed, they would always have someone to look at, nibble and play with. If your dog is barking, ask yourself if you leave your dog at home alone for too long. If so, maybe you should find them a new companion or buy toys to distract them. Before adopting a new family member you should ideally have this problem solved because your pet will inevitably have to be alone sometimes. The problem can be made worse if there are several dogs in similar conditions in the neighborhood as they can spread the habit of barking to one another.
- Separation anxiety: This may be related to the previous point, that of excessive loneliness. Separation anxiety sets in when the dog is left alone at home without supervision. Some dogs channel separation anxiety by biting furniture or barking. If this is the case, and you want to stop your dog from barking, it is best to use a kong toy to treat separation anxiety and provide your pet with well-being, tranquility and comfort.
- Poor socialization: Even dogs that are constantly accompanied and entertained can sometimes start barking at specific objects, vehicles and people. Why does this happen? If we have not let our puppy socialize correctly, then it may develop fears towards certain stimuli (children, bicycles, other dogs…). If you want to stop a dog from barking, it is very important to address this problem with a professional. Get further information on this subject.
- Enthusiasm: There are some highly excitable and playful dogs that can not refrain from barking at certain stimuli. This usually happens when playing with other animals, when discovering new things, doing something they like, or when their owner gets home. They may even urinate from the excitement. In these cases, if you want to stop a dog from barking, it is best to reward ‘calm’ dog attitudes and avoid scolding it.
- Frustration: This is a very significant problem as leaving your dog alone in an environment where they can not do anything will frustrate them and make them bark. They need to explore, have their own space and ‘get on with life’ calmly. Give them the right toys, intelligence games, practice tricks that it enjoys, etc. For example, playing with laser-pointer lights that they can never catch is also a source of frustration.
- Unconscious training: Many owners inadvertently reward their pet’s barking in situations that they like or find funny. The problem starts when the dog uses this constantly to ask for treats and ceases to control their barking and restrict it to certain moments. That way, a generalized barking pattern is established.
- Hereditary factors: Certain breeds of dogs which are conditioned by genetic factors are prone to barking. It is common in chihuahuas or small breed, but also in some hunting dogs. If your dog’s relatives (brothers, sisters, parents, etc.) are also barkers, there is likely to be a strong genetic basis for such behavior. If your dog belongs to a barking breed, such as the Sheltie, the Beagle, some terriers, etc., there is not much you can do to correct excessive barking.
- Guard dog: If your dog barks when they hear the doorbell you should know that this is in their nature of guard dog. The dog alerts you that there is someone there and expects you to investigate it. In principle this attitude is merely informative. One or two barks are normal and acceptable. However, if the barking is excessive your dog might have a territoriality problem.
- Health problems, deafness and old age: When ageing, some dogs lose their capacity to hear or see and this can make them bark. On AnimalWised, you can discover how to care for an elderly dog. Do not forget that elderly dogs need special care and comfort due to their condition. We should be understanding and respectful towards and elderly dog, not necessarily make them stop from barking.
- Fears: Following traumatic experiences, dogs will have a palpable fear of certain situations, people or objects. It is very important to deal with these cases with patience and understand that the animal is only barking to protect itself from what it considers ‘dangerous’. Find out tips for dogs with fear and gradually start working with them by creating new and more positive experiences. This process can be time consuming and your dog will probably never entirely lose its feeling of insecurity and fear. However, they can stop associating it with barking.
- Problems with other dogs: Dogs may bark at other dogs for many different reasons: joy, playing, fear, poor socialization… The causes are endless and should be addressed slowly and patiently. We should reward attitudes that we like and try to avoid exposing them to situations that cause severe stress. The key to stopping your dog from barking at other dogs is to correctly identify the cause of this issue. In these cases, and especially if your dog has a reactive attitude toward other dogs, it is best to go to a professional.
You can correctly identify whether the barking is due to a particular or multiple reasons. Do not repress or scold the dog. Before you start working on how to stop a dog from barking, you must know all the causes of its anxiety.
Tips to stop your dog from barking
If you are not sure of the cause (or causes) that make your dog bark, ideally you should go to a professional to receive guidance and help. Why? Many owners think their dog is barking out of aggression when it is in fact doing it out of fear. Others may think the dog is trying to ‘get attention’ when the real cause is excessive loneliness.
For that reason, if we have no experience or do not know exactly what is happening to our best friend, then the most appropriate thing to do is to go to someone with experience in this type of situation.
Also, do not forget that not all techniques are effective to stop a dog from barking and that some of the tips that you find on the Internet can actually make things worse. In some cases, the methods that are widely used (anti-barking collars, punishment, forced exposure to the stimuli that the dog is scared of, etc.) can cause a worsening in its behavior and an increase in the dog’s barking.
Here are some tips and tricks that will promote our pet’s well-being and help you make it stop from barking in a positive manner. These guidelines are commonly used in dogs with severe stress problems so their goal is to calm the dog and achieve a better behavior. Take note:
- Promote the tranquility and relaxation of the dog both in and out of the house. Massages, caresses and tasty treats are good incentives to help them stop barking.
- Many people often scold the dog when they bark and may even tap (or hit) them in an attempt to put a stop to this behavior. This kind of attitude will only worsen the animal’s behavior and will cause stress and a feeling of sadness. Discover 5 common mistakes when scolding a dog.
- Dogs with severe stress problems will benefit from exercise and playing with a kong toy, for example. Do not forget that a dog takes about 21 days to completely eliminate accumulated stress in its body. You must be very patient and loving if you want to make the situation better. Dogs suffering from stress should not be subjected to punishment, direct exposure to their fears or intensive training if you want to stop them from barking.
- Before you think your dog barks when they are alone, record them or find a way to see what they do when you are not at home. Many dogs bark and howl when their owners are leaving home, but then they calm down and spend their time sleeping or chewing their toys. This is what some coaches call “anxiety during separation,” as opposed to separation anxiety. If barking occurs only when you are leaving home, you must find a way to distract them while you are leaving, so they do not notice your exit. Also avoid saying goodbye with great affection. Say goodbye normally, as you say goodbye to your human relatives, or prevent your dog from seeing you leave.
- If your dog barks down the street when they pass other dogs, ideally you should avoid pulling the lead (as dogs notice tension). Continue the walk instead, as if nothing happened. We must have a calm and firm attitude; your dog will notice it.
- We can also try to distract them with treats when the stimulus that causes its barking (a bell, other dogs…) appears. Asking them to sit and play with tricks while you reward them is a good way to put a spin on the situation and stop a dog from barking.
- When faced with a very stressful situation, if we can not distract them, then we should leave as soon as possible. When the dog is faced with something that causes fear or severe insecurity, their stress levels will rise, which is counter productive when you are trying to stop a dog from barking.
- Try walking with them at times and in stretches that are quiet, so to prevent them from barking. When you start to see improvements, you can try to walk them in places or moments of greater activity. This point is very important as it helps promote calmness in a dog. Here, you can discover the most common dog walking mistakes and try to avoid them. Ideally, let your dog sniff everything they want and offer them a moment of real pleasure.
- If your dog is really a compulsive barker, the best thing you can do in these circumstances is to train them to bark and shut up to order, and also give them the opportunity to bark in appropriate situations. For example, take them to a park to bark or other open places where you do not disturb anyone.
- Do not force contact or interaction with other dogs or people unless they want to. When they are ready, they will move forward and try to interact. Forcing a dog with fear to interact may impact negatively on the animal and even cause aggression and extreme fear. It will definitely not help you stop a dog from barking.
- Use searching as a technique for relaxation and fun. It is a good way to improve our pet’s well-being. In addition, practicing different activities will help to change their barking routine and make them discover new experiences. Enriching the life of the animal makes them happy and helps them work on their fears, therefore preventing excessive barking.
- Follow all these guidelines consistently to make your dog react with growing calm over time. To do so you must be consistent and keep a positive focus. You will gain nothing from forcing your pet to do something they don’t want to do.
We must never use chokers or shock collars. This could unleash a very negative and aggressive attitude in your dog which may turn them against you or your family.
We must remember that every dog is different and these tips may not always work. If your situation is really serious you should see a specialist who will perfectly understand the causes and be able to properly advise you on what to do to stop a dog from barking.