Whether your own or a neighbour’s, plenty of us have wondered how stop a dog from barking from time to time. Incessant barking is enough to drive anyone mad. It’s loud, persistent and…well…annoying. Sometimes we wonder how the dogs handle the sounds of themselves barking for prolonged periods. Especially given they have up to three times as many ear muscles as we do.
Thankfully, you don’t have to resign yourself to a lifetime of earplugs. Even if you have a confirmed barker in your life. There are some steps and solutions that can stop or reduce a dog’s barking so everyone gets a bit of peace and quiet.
How to stop a dog from barking: 4 steps
Dogs do more than just bark, although we humans tend to just lump it all together. If you’ve realised, upon thinking about it, that your dog isn’t barking but doing something else like whining or howling, try reading how to speak dog.
Finding out what they’re doing and why is the first step to stopping bad habits. “Why do dogs bark?” is answered here.
But for now, let’s focus on the bark itself with some tips on how to stop a dog from barking.
1. Understand the cause of your dog barking
You can’t solve a problem if you don’t know what’s causing it. Just like when a baby cries, knowing the root cause is the easiest way to find a suitable solution. Knowing how to stop a dog barking will be much easier if you know why they’re barking to start with.
Some of the most common reasons dogs bark are boredom, separation anxiety in pets and excess energy. Without enough physical and mental stimulation dogs can become very anxious, upset, or straight up destructive.
So the first step is to assess whether your dog is content and happy. Are they getting enough exercise? This varies by breed and age. For instance, a middle-aged Pug should get by with a daily gentle stroll. A young Border Collie has much higher exercise needs, and should be getting around 15km. Daily, that is. A tired dog is a content and happy dog!
Your dog might also be anxious if they’re left alone for long periods, could be barking at something outside your wall or gate (like a passing cat), or might need toys or other stimulation to distract them.
If your dog’s not getting enough playtime, exercise, or training they’re going to have to let out that excess energy and frustration somehow. And that somehow might be via barking.
2. Use positive reinforcement to your benefit
Positive reinforcement dog training is often the most effective way of teaching obedience in your dog and creating more of the behaviours you want. Or don’t want, in the case of how to stop a dog barking.
It’s hard to turn a blind eye, but the basic principle is to not react when your dog is doing something you don’t want them to. Unless, of course, you need to keep your pet or a person safe. So if your dog is barking, chewing, or doing something else you don’t like, ignore the behaviour. Then, reward and lavish them with praise when they do the right thing.
When it comes to how to stop a dog barking, this basically means you need to ignore your dog’s incessant barking. Even though it might be driving you and everyone else crazy. It’s no easy feat, but hang in there until they stop barking and them immediately give them a high-value treat and plenty of praise.
After a while, they’ll associate the action of not barking with praise and reward.
3. Stop a dog barking with the help of a professional
Finding out how to stop a dog from barking and actually putting it into practice can be two different things. Even if you’re the most dedicated person in the world, the help of a professional can often make things run more smoothly. And you’re likely to achieve your goals more quickly.
Finding a good puppy training school or working with a trainer or behaviourist at home can often give you the tools you need to continue you dog’s education and make sure the barking doesn’t come back. It’s a win-win really. Happy humans and a happy, well-understood dog.
4. Take a trip to the vet
Sometimes, barking can be a sign of pain or unhappiness. Your dog doesn’t have the ability to express themselves in as many ways as we do, so they rely on barking, growling, or whining. If your dog is barking more than usual or seems to be showing other signs of discomfort like a lack of appetite, lethargy, or changes in posture and/or movement, they may be trying to tell you something.
When you’re not sure, a trip to the vet for a check up is worthwhile. If they don’t find anything, at least you’ve put your mind at ease. And if they do find something, you might have just figured out how to stop your dog barking.
If you have a dog insurance plan you’ll have protection in place for the vet fees and possible treatment costs. or treatment costs. Time to get a quote?