Our canine companions enjoy the simple pleasures in life: treatos, long walks… and barking at things. Young or old, almost all puppers do it – but our simple tricks will show you how to stop a dog from barking.
Most of the time, your fluffy friend is barking to tell you something: there’s someone at the door; I want someone to play with; that thing scares me. And sure, sometimes that’s okay! But if that barking goes on for too long, or happens at the wrong time – at night or while you’re out of the house, for example – it can become a problem. So we’re here to help!
‘I’m bored’ barking
Does your canine companion bark for no apparent reason throughout the day? If you’re sure Fido isn’t hearing neighbours moving around or some other trigger, boredom may just be the explanation!
Fortunately, it’s easy to fix in most cases. Take a look at what your doggo’s day looks like – is all the activity and good stuff happening in the morning? If so, try spreading out walking/feeding/playing throughout the day. If not, then it may be that your pooch just needs more attention. You can take these extra steps to wear him out, so he feels sleepy and fulfilled instead of bored and antsy!
- Increase the number or duration of your daily walkies
- Take toys for fetch or tug-of-war with you on walks to burn off some extra steam
- Add some training into your walkies to get his brain working
- Have regular ‘play-dates’ with other pups
- Play games with your pooch in the garden or park between walks
- Play some brain games, or make your own canine enrichment toys
- Get your dog a Gnaw-a-bone or other long-lasting chew
- Send your doggo to play with friends at doggy day-care or on a morning/lunchtime trip with a professional dog walker
🐾Top tip: remember not to cave in and deliver any of these wonderful activities as a direct result of barking; wait till Fido is distracted by something else, or he will bark every time he wants some extra playtime.
‘Who’s that at the door?’ barking
Ahh, the classic doggy welcome to visitors and delivery drivers. And cats in the garden. And birds – you get the picture. It’s not really a welcome, it’s an alarm call, so try to nip this in the bud as soon as you can.
Here’s a couple of tricks for doing so:
- Record the offending sounds and play them back to your pupper, starting very quietly and gradually increasing the volume. Do this either while feeding her tasty treatos, or perhaps while she is absorbed in eating her dinner. It might take a few days, but they should become accustomed to it and ignore it in real life. This may work better with background noises rather than visitors at the door, but give it a whirl!
🐾Top tip: don’t do this when you might be interrupted by the real sound! So for a couple of days, turn off that doorbell or stop feeding the birds, otherwise your doggo will have to start again from the beginning.
- Teach your pooch an alternative behaviour. Every time someone knocks at the door, get Fido to ‘go to bed’, or ‘get your toy’, or some other behaviour he knows how to perform. Then, give lots of treatos! Repeat every time you get a visitor until he starts to pre-emptively get in his crate or grab his toy whenever he hears someone approaching.
🐾Top tip: try getting a friend to help you out by knocking on the door at a time you have decided together, otherwise you might find you miss that parcel or leave your visitors waiting outside in the cold while you persuade your canine companion to do as he’s told the first few times.
‘Play with me’ barking
This is similar to ‘I’m bored’ barking, but happens when your pupper is craving his pawrents attention, so distracting her with a toy is not likely to work. If your pooch is attention seeking, the best thing to do is ignore her. Leave the room – to somewhere she can’t follow – and come back when she’s quiet. If you can’t do that, then try asking her for a different behaviour: sit, lie down, paw. Hopefully, she won’t try to multitask and you’ll get a silent trick, which means you can give her the pats she was looking for. If your dog is super smart and goes back to barking again, try stacking a variety of tricks before you deliver the beloved pats and belly rubs.
🐾Top tip: don’t shout at (or even talk to) a pupper that’s shouting at you! This counts as attention, so it won’t help you prevent future barking.
‘Wake up’ barking
Otherwise known as nighttime barking, and guaranteed to put you at odds with your neighbours. Here’s how to stop a dog barking at night.
First, make sure that the room your pooch sleeps in is well sound-proofed and preferably doesn’t face onto a road or path that might be in use overnight. Close the windows and draw the curtains to avoid any little disturbances that might lead to alarm barking. You may find that giving a smaller space to roam during the night, such as one room instead of the whole house, also makes your canine companion feel safer and less barky.
Next, use the tips in the section about “I’m bored” barking. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: a tired boy is a good boy. Wearing your doggo out makes it much more likely that he will sleep like a log… a nice, quiet log!
🐾Top tip: avoid getting up and paying attention to your canine companion if he insists on singing his song to you in the early hours, as this could be precisely what he’s looking for.
The best idea is to ignore it, but with neighbours to worry about – and your own sanity – that isn’t always possible! If you must go downstairs to make sure your doggo isn’t warning you of a burglary, then make it super quick and be as boring as possible. Don’t look at your doggo (we know – it’s hard!), don’t talk to your doggo and definitely do not invite your dog up to settle in your bed!
You can try getting a little pet-camera set up that you can speak to your pupper through, but that won’t always work. Some will find it distressing or confusing, and others will see it as attention; give it a go, but don’t get your hopes up!
Another thing is to instigate a strict bedtime/morning routine that you do not deviate from – so no occasional sleepovers in your bed, for example. It’s all about making it clear to your pooch that nothing interesting or good happens at night, no matter how hard they try to make it.
‘Come back’ barking
If your pup barks when you’re out of the house, she may have separation anxiety. Some dogs have this from puppyhood, but it can also happen due to big changes in their lives, such as moving house or people entering/leaving their lives. There’s no quick fix, but we’ve got some tips for helping your dog with separation anxiety that just might get her back on track.
‘I need to pee’ barking
How to stop a puppy from barking in the night: well, little puppers have little bladders, so a midnight bark might indicate that they’re unable to cross their legs any longer! This is the only good reason for getting up and heading over to your canine companion in the middle of a midnight shout-fest. Find out more about toilet training your new puppy.
Some people swear by teaching their pupper to bark on command, and then teaching a cue to ‘be quiet’, then using that cue to stop nuisance barking – but its success will depend on why your pooch is barking in the first place, so using some of these tricks will work better.
Of course, if it’s nighttime barking you’re worried about, you can always let Fido sleep in your bed. Be sure to think very carefully before allowing this, as it can lead to problems later on, for example when he goes to stay with your family while you’re away and they want him to sleep in a dog bed in the kitchen! Or even if you need the bed to yourself, for example while you or your pooch is under the weather.
There’s lots of research that shows punishing dogs in any way doesn’t help them learn, so we recommend that you don’t tell your puppy exactly how you feel about his vocal gymnastics! Once you know how to train a dog to stop barking, it’ll be smooth sailing and kind words, so put in the effort now and you’ll soon reap the rewards.