How to Stop My Dog From Excessive Barking? 6 Tips That Work

If you’ve ever lived with a dog, you know that they can be very vocal. There are times, especially when you are not home when they keep barking and you wish they would stop before it gets too annoying. In fact, dogs don’t bark for no reason. If you can understand the reason behind the barking, you will be able to stop the barking more effectively. 

Remember, getting your dog to bark less will take time, effort, and practice. It won’t happen overnight. You need to arm yourself up with proper techniques before seeing some progress. And in this post, we will give you 6 easy tips to help you stop excessive barking.

Why Dogs Bark?

Barking is completely natural for dogs and it is a form of vocal communication they use, and it can mean different things depending on the situation. While it is unreasonable for owners to expect our dogs to never bark, the excessive barking may be a sign of your dog telling you something is not right. 

So let’s go through some of the reasons why dogs bark:

Greeting: Dogs often bark when greeting people or other animals even from a distance. It’s a sign of welcome and happiness.

Guarding: When someone comes into an area your dog considers their territory, that often triggers excessive barking. As the threat gets closer, the barking often gets more intense and frequent. It’s their gesture of warning.

Boredom: Dogs are pack animals. If they are left alone for long periods, they can become bored or sad and often will bark to channel their restlessness.

Attention Seeking: Dogs often bark to signal to you that they want you to do something, such as going outside, playing, or getting a treat.

Fear: Some dogs bark out of fear. Any noise or object that catches their attention will trigger excessive bark. This can happen anywhere, not just in their home. When it happens, their ears will be back and tail tucked between their legs. 

Separation Anxiety/Compulsive Barking: Dogs with separation anxiety often bark excessively when left alone. They also usually exhibit other symptoms as well, such as pacing, destructive chewing, and inappropriate elimination.

Six Tips on How to Get a Dog to Stop Barking

Once you understand why your dog barks, you will have a better idea of how to tackle the problem from its root causes. 

If your dog is left alone and your neighbor complains about excessive barking when you are out, you know he is probably barking out of boredom or even separation anxiety. And if your dog keeps barking at the mailman, it’s a territorial or guarding instant and you might want to set up some sort of physical barrier to block their sight through the window.

Here are six easy tips to reduce the amount of nuisance barking you have to listen to:

#1 Make sure they have plenty of exercises

A tired dog is a good dog, so make sure they get lots of physical activities. The amount of exercise should be based on their age, health, and breed characteristics.

An easy way to ensure your dog gets plenty of exercise is to go on daily walks. And try to incorporate other outdoor activities, like fetch,  into your daily routine as much as possible. 

Sometimes if you are busy, hiring a walker may be a good choice to get your dog to channel out the excessive energy. For dogs who enjoy the company of other dogs, well-run doggy daycare can be an excellent choice for high-energy pups.

#2 Make sure you’re providing enough mental stimulation

Keeping a dog’s brain stimulated is as important as daily physical exercises. Mental stimulation can keep your dog happy, calm, and relaxed. And reduce destructive chewing behavior.

Introduce short sessions (5-15min) of training with new tricks can be one of the things you can get your dog’s mind busy. Play “dog treat hunt” is also a fun and easy game to stimulate his instincts. Interactive toys like Kong is also a good choice.

Check out more interactive toys or food dispensers you can use to keep your dog’s mind busy:

#3 Teach Your Dog to Bark on Command

Teaching your dog when to bark and not to bark on command is a good way to control excessive barking. There are only two commands you can teach your dog:

  • Speak – Your dog needs to understand he is allow to bark when asked to do so. Actually, training your dog to bark on command can help teach them when NOT to bark.

  • Quiet – Use a soft but firm voice to say “quiet”, until your dog stop barking. Then praise them and give them a treat. Teaching your dog “quiet” will help them to calm down on cue.

Watch this video by Zak George for a demonstration:

#4 Give your dog work to do

Providing something for your dog to do during the day also can help. Here are a few examples:

Leave the toys out: If your dog is left alone in the house, try leaving out a couple of food-dispensing toys or puzzles filled with his favorite treats. This will keep them busy for an hour or so.

Leave the TV or radio on: This will make the dog feel less boring and less sensible to the noise happening outside your home. Some owners even report playing soft music can help their dog stay calm. 

If you want more ideas to entertain your dog, check out this video below:

#5 Use Sight Barriers

Most dog barks as a territorial/guarding instant to warn off potential intruders. This’s nothing wrong with it because they are just being a dog.

The easiest way to prevent excessive barking triggered by strangers is by setting up a sight barrier to keep your dog from seeing outside.

By blocking your dog’s sightline to potential barking triggers, you can stop the excessive barking even before it happens.

#6 Do not reward barking

If your dog barks when he wants to go outside, and you respond by grabbing the leash and take him out, you’ve just taught him to bark to get what he wants. 

You should appreciate your dog for telling you what he wants, but not with barking. Instead, find ways for your dog to communicate with you. For insurance, place a bell by the door. And teach your dog to ring the bell if he wants to go out. 

If they bark to ask you to take them out, do not respond immediately or go to another room until they are calm and quiet. In this way, you are teaching them barking is not going to work.

What not to do

Be careful not to do the wrong things that are only going to make it worse:

  • Don’t yell. Only speak calmly and firmly. Shouting only stimulates your dog to bark more as he thinks you are joining in.
  • Don’t use electric/shock/anti-bark collar. We are strongly against this kind of gadgets. It’s only going to hurt your dog if not used properly.
  • Don’t muzzle your dog to keep their mouth shout, especially if you need to be away for long periods of time. Your dog regulates his temperature through the mouth by panting and a muzzles prevents your dog from doing this, as well as drinking water and eating.
  • Regardless, don’t punish your dog if he is barking due to fright or separation anxiety. You will most likely increase his anxiety, and therefore, his barking.

Over to you

It might take some time before you see any progress. You’ll get frustrated but don’t lose faith. You will get there eventually.

If you think you have tried everything including the 6 tips above and still don’t see any success, you may have to work with professional dog trainers.