A dog, possibly a Shiba Inu, stands behind a fence with its mouth open wide, almost as if demonstrating how to stop a dog from barking. There is a house and some greenery in the background.

How to Stop a Dog from Barking in 4 Steps

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“How to stop a dog from barking?” and “Why do dogs howl?” are two common pet parent questions. Even if you admire your dog’s vocal abilities, 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.

A small dog in a green sweater stands outdoors on grass, looking up with its mouth open, perhaps pondering why dogs howl. Trees and a body of water are visible in the background.

4 tips to stop your dog from barking

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. Find out more about why dogs bark, since that’s already a great step towards helping them stop.

If you’re wondering why dogs howl, we’ve answered that further down. But first, here are some great tips to help stop a dog from barking…

1. Understand why your dog is barking in the first place

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 which sort of barking they’re doing – just like us, they have a lot to say on a variety of topics.

  • Boredom. Some of the most common reasons dogs bark are boredom. So the first step is to assess whether your dog is content and happy. They could be barking at something outside your wall or gate (like a passing cat) or might need toys or other stimulation to distract them. Without enough physical and mental stimulation dogs can become very anxious, upset, or straight up destructive.
  • Excess energy. 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! Read about dog exercise requirements by breed.

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.

A golden retriever with a wide open grin wears a blue collar

2. Train your dog to stop barking using positive reinforcement

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. 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 pet 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.

A small brown dog barking incessantly

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.

How to stop a dog barking at thunder?

While we’ve covered off several reasons dogs bark, one of those that it’s interesting and deserves its own section is thunder. Dogs don’t seem to mind their own loud barking as much as some mind the bang of thunder. Likely that’s because they know where their bark is coming from while thunder is more mysterious.

Not all dogs mind thunder, but many do. That’s why, to help a dog stop barking (or crying or hiding) from thunder we’ve rounded up a whole guide. Check out why dogs are scared of thunder along with several ways you can help keep them calm.

A small dog in a tall grassy field barks at the sky

Why do dogs howl?

Now that we’ve looked at how to stop your dog from barking, let’s explore why dogs howl.

Many dogs have an interesting musical inclination. You’ll notice them howl when someone sings, plays an instrument, or even if a siren goes past. The same can be said for when they hear other dogs howling, even in the far-off distance.

Doggy howling is a form of vocal communication and some say, a way dogs express emotion. Dog howl to make contact, get attention, announce their presence, and at times, to signal something is wrong. Howling isn’t something dogs do as often as most other vocal communication.

If your dog suddenly starts to howl a lot and appears to be in pain, it’s a good idea to have them checked by their vet. While most reasons a dog howls are good, sometimes it’s because they’re injured, stressed (for example from loneliness) or sick.

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