The Excessive Barking Needs to Stop: Here’s How to Quiet Your Pup
Veterinarian Reviewed by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM on August 20, 2018
Posted in Behavior Management
Barking is the way your dog communicates with you and the world around it. Your pooch might bark at a passing stranger, at you when you return home, at an unfamiliar animal or for no reason in particular. Dogs usually have many different types of barks they use to communicate different things, and it’s perfectly natural for them to express those each day. Unfortunately, barking can also become a nuisance.
Extremely loud and excessive barking can be distracting, can scare other pets, children and strangers, and can cause a disturbance in your neighborhood. While it’s not reasonable to expect your pooch to stay totally silent 24/7, your dog should be well-trained enough to listen to commands to stop or to only bark at certain things, like intruders.
Here are some effective methods for quieting your ear-piercing pooch.
- Training and commands: If your dog is barking constantly and you need it to stop, the first step you should take is to conduct training. Training a young puppy is much easier than training an older dog, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible for old dogs to learn. Patience, rewards and lots of love and care will help your dog bond with you, understand you and do what you need it to.
Two basic commands will help your dog know when it is appropriate to bark and when it is not: speak and quiet. To teach speak, stimulate your dog to bark at something, and repeat the word “speak,” then give it a reward. Work up to being able to get your dog to bark using “speak” without any other stimulation.
“Quiet” is the next command to work on. When your dog is barking, say “quiet,” then wait until it stops barking to reward it with a treat. This may take some work, but eventually, your dog should learn to stop barking with the “quiet” command.
- Stay calm: Dogs have a strong sense of emotion and pick up clues from the situations happening around them. If there is a lot of commotion happening nearby, your dog will be more likely to get excited or stressed, too. Because of this, try to stay calm in stressful situations, or run the risk of your dog adding to the commotion.
Similarly, your dog might try to mimic you if you yell at it. Instead of screaming at your dog when it begins to bark, use firm and calm commands. If you just yell at your dog to be quiet, it will probably think you are trying to play or get it excited, resulting in more barking.
- Tire it out: A sleepy pooch is often a quiet pooch, because it is spending more time sleeping than getting stimulated by random things around your house. Take your dog for walks and runs, let it play with other dogs at the dog park and give it lots of stimulating toys to play with on its own. The more your tire your pup out during the day, the lower the chances of barking will become.
Additionally, boredom and anxiety are two of the major causes of barking. If your dog feels neglected or lonely, it might bark to get attention from you. By giving your dog lots of love and attention, you can help ease its anxiety and stop its barking from getting out of hand.
- Identify and mitigate the cause: Aside from boredom and anxiety, there are a lot of reasons why your dog might be barking. Another major cause is territorial—when your dog tries to defend its property from unfamiliar animals and people. This is why dogs tend to bark at the mailman or passerby.
To help stop the barking, pay close attention to your dog and its barking to identify the root cause. From there, you can create solutions that prevent your pooch from getting overstimulated, territorial, bored or distressed. For example, if your dog tends to bark in a territorial way, you can create barriers to its sight outside, so it won’t be stimulated by passing strangers anymore.
For all barking solutions, it’s important that you remain calm, patient and caring toward your dog. Excessive barking can be very frustrating, but you need to remember that barking is simply your dog’s way of communicating with you.
If your dog is usually not a barker and randomly begins barking excessively, there may also be something wrong with its health. Examine its body and its sleep and eating patterns to look for signs of an illness, then take your pooch to the vet to be examined if you think something is wrong.
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan