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Patience 101: How to Stop Your Dog from Barking Excessively

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Every neighborhood has that one dog that never seems to take a breath. The barking’s non-stop. You wonder how the owners cope. Hopefully, that dog doesn’t belong to you. If you HAVE encountered moments of excessive yapping, you’ve probably wondered: is it possible to stop your dog from barking? Have no fear. As long as you have the patience, we’ve got the training tips you need.

Understanding Barking

Before you can start the process of stopping your dog from barking, you need to know WHY they’re barking in the first place. After all, dogs bark for a variety of reasons. Dog barks represent canine communication. Consider it the equivalent of our daily conversations. And each bark has a different meaning.

You’ll never completely stop your dog from barking. And, honestly, you don’t want to. Barks can represent signs of distress or alarm in certain situations (for instance, a critical injury). You WANT to hear that bark. They tell you something’s wrong, either with your dog or the surrounding environment.

Think about it: guard dogs bark to warn off intruders. Some service dogs bark to alert those in the area that their person needs assistance. So barks aren’t always bad things.

Excessive Barking

Stop a dog from barking involves understanding why your pup's barking

People start losing their cool when dogs cross the line into excessive barking. For instance, your dog spends an hour trying to get your attention while you’re working. Or they sit under a tree barking at the squirrel that couldn’t care less. As a result, your blood pressure climbs into the danger zone, and the neighborhood mutters under their breath.

Time to take action.

Excessive barking tends to fall under a few basic categories:

  • Attention-Seeking
  • Boredom or Loneliness
  • Separation Anxiety or Compulsive Behavior

Each one requires training to correct. And you need to recognize the category if you want to stop your dog from barking. It IS possible.

First, though, you need to take a deep breath. Because all of these training methods have one thing in common:

They require patience and calm on your part.

The “Quiet” Method

The "Quiet" command is the easiest way to train away excessive barking

You want to stop your dog from barking. This means you need to interrupt the barking process. The simplest way is to introduce the “Quiet” command. (Feel free to substitute “Hush” or another word of choice. “Shut up” is NOT acceptable) You’ll communicate to your dog that all that racket needs to cease.

Remember that patience we discussed? You’re going to need it. This is NOT a quick process. Your dog won’t learn to stop barking overnight. It’s going to take several days. Keep these tips in the back of your mind:

  • NEVER yell: As soon as you raise your voice, you’re “barking” back at your dog. It reinforces the behavior.
  • Stay positive: If you keep your cool, make your voice upbeat, and maintain a positive attitude, you’ll get better results.
  • Be consistent: Everyone in the household needs to use the same commands, hand signals, and treats. If you change things up, your dog will get confused. Have the same goal to stop your dog from barking and discuss the plan.
  • All or nothing: You can’t accept some barks and discourage others. Consistency means you don’t encourage your dog to bark at the mailman.

Introducing the “Quiet” Command to Stop Your Dog from Barking

You have a couple of options for teaching your dog the “Quiet” command. They all follow the same basic sequence, though.

  1. As soon as your dog starts barking, say “Quiet” in a CALM but firm voice.
  2. When your dog pauses to breathe (it WILL happen eventually), give them a series of yummy treats and praise. You’ll interrupt the barking routine. You can also opt to gently hold their muzzle shut.
  3. Make sure you don’t give the treat when they bark (you don’t want to reward THAT behavior).
  4. They’ll start to catch on that “Quiet” equals treat time.
  5. Start extending the time between the “Quiet” cue and the reward – say to 2 seconds.
  6. As your dog does well, keep extending the time. Go to 5 seconds, then 10 seconds, then 20 seconds. Finally, go out to a full minute.

Congratulations! Your dog knows the “Quiet” command!

When the “Quiet” Command Doesn’t Stop Your Dog from Barking

There are stubborn breeds out there (Dachshunds). They want to bark regardless. If you’ve persistently tried to stop your dog from barking by teaching “Quiet” and failed after at least TWENTY attempts (please give it your best shot), you have an alternative.

  1. Still give the “Quiet” command in that same CALM voice. (I know you’re exhausted by this point).
  2. Use a can half-full of coins and shake it when your dog continues barking. You’ll startle them out of the barking phase. As soon as the barking stops initiate the treat and praise.
  3. Continue with the remainder of the training, using the can and “Quiet” together.
  4. Wean the can out of the procedure, switching to just the “Quiet” command.

How to Stop Your Dog from Barking

You can stop your dog from barking in every instance

Excessive barking puts everyone on edge. It’s tempting to throw up your hands and reach for a bark collar. If you understand WHY your dog’s barking themselves hoarse, though, you may not need to go that far. Look at when they start barking, what they may be barking at, and even why they start barking. If you unravel the cause, you can stop your dog from barking without resorting to extremes.

Stop Your Attention-Seeking Dog from Barking

Some of the smaller breed dogs have a clingy nature. They want to stay underfoot and get involved in everything you do. And when they don’t get your undivided attention, they resort to barking. It’s possible to stop your attention-seeking hound from howling non-stop. WITHOUT withholding your love and affection.

First, never reward the behavior. As soon as you cave in, they’ve won. You can train your dog to use a bell to signal a need to go outside. Food bowl empty? The next time you fill it, bang the bowl against the floor. Your dog will associate the noise with the arrival of food. Instead of barking, they’ll push it across the floor to make the same sound. (Dogs are SMART)

You have to communicate WITHOUT responding to the bark. Which means learning to ignore your dog. Wait until they STOP to pick them up and cuddle them. Again, treats are for QUIET dogs, not barking dogs.

Stop Your Bored Dog from Barking

If your neighbors leave you “love notes” about the canine serenade while you’re at work, you need to stop your dog from barking. Odds are your dog’s BORED. Give them something to DO while you’re away. Puzzle toys, especially if they have treats inside, make great diversions from distracting the neighborhood. They also engage that canine brain. Once your dog finishes, they’ll need a nap. Sleeping dogs don’t bark.

Consider investing in a dog-walker to stop by during the day. It’ll break up your dog’s routine as well as providing extra exercise. A dog receiving proper levels of activity tends to bark less. Most dogs need a couple of solid walks AND an active game of fetch to stay healthy. A dog-walker or pet-sitter can help you with that necessity. In addition, you’ll keep your pooch from chatting to themselves.

Stop Your Separation Anxiety Dog from Barking

Separation anxiety is a little trickier to work with. You’ll often see other destructive behaviors besides excessive barking, such as pacing, tearing up the furniture, or improper eliminations. You should consider calming treats as part of the plan to stop your dog from barking. They’ll alleviate the heightened anxiety at play in your dog’s brain.

However, due to the complexity of separation anxiety and compulsory behaviors, you need to contact a professional. Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists (CAABs or ACAABs), board-certified veterinary behaviorists (ACVBs), and Certified Professional Dog Trainers (CPDTs) are your BEST resources. You WANT to see those strings of letters after the person’s name. It represents qualified training. They have the knowledge and background to handle difficult situations.

Bark-Be-Gone

Sometimes, the smallest adjustments can help you stop your dog from barking:

  • Closing the curtains or blinds to break up sightlines from outside
  • Making sure your dog receives proper socialization so they aren’t afraid of new people
  • Teaching your dog to go to their bed when someone knocks at the door

You CAN stop your dog from barking. It just takes some time, patience, and a little creativity. (And treats – don’t forget the treats) Don’t let the barking drive you – or your neighbors – up the wall. You’ve got this. A quieter, more peaceful life is in your reach.

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Andria Kennedy

Andria Kennedy

Andria grew up in a pet-friendly household. On weekends, the family made trips to zoos and aquariums in the area. So it wasn't a surprise when she gravitated toward a career with animals. After six years working among the background operations at the Philadelphia Zoo, she gained a unique insight into the veterinary world. The vet staff provided her first lessons in terminology, the identification of medical equipment, and glimpses of radiographs (x-rays). She also enjoyed plenty of opportunities to talk with everyone, including the veterinary technicians. And they offered an alternative for someone NOT interested in surgical pathways: Namely, their course of study. Andria enrolled at Harcum College. Philadelphia boasts two programs for vet techs, but only Harcum works with the Ryan Veterinary Hospital and New Bolton Center (University of Pennsylvania's small and large animal facilities, respectively). Harcum's vet tech students receive six months of hands-on teaching and experience alongside Penn's vet students. With the opportunities and connections available with one of the top veterinary schools, the decision was easy for her to make. New Bolton Center: Large Animal Medicine Andria ended up trudging through snow up to the knee and shivering in subzero temperatures during her winter semester, but she wasn't disappointed with her choice. New Bolton provided a thorough grounding in large animal medicine. A horse-lover as a child, the experience renewed those old emotions. And a few memories stood out and remained to this day: • Standing alongside a Clydesdale and feeling TINY • Holding the reins of a horse galloping at top speed on a treadmill • Nursing tiny foals through the first days of their life Ryan Veterinary Hospital: Small Animal Medicine Veterinary students can legally work at a practice while studying. Andria took advantage of the opportunity, gaining "real life" experience while attending class. It provided a slight advantage when she entered her three months at the small animal hospital. However, as Ryan Veterinary Hospital offers treatments unique to the veterinary community, she continued to gain valuable experience. For instance, she spent a day working alongside their Chemo Team. The positivity of everyone she encountered - staff, clients, and patients alike - left a lasting impression. Additional standout moments included: • An afternoon spent with the head of the feline kidney transplant program • A day serving as the anesthesia technician in their new radiation unit • Recognizing a radiograph of a giant elephant shrew (applying her previous zoo knowledge) Emergency/ICU Veterinary Technician Accompanying her Associate of Science in Veterinary Technology, Andria received a passing score on the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). The two led to her certification/license as a veterinary technician - first in Pennsylvania (CVT) and later in Virginia (LVT). Emergency medicine appealed to her from the beginning. The flux of ailments, injuries, and even species kept her mind sharp at all times. The knowledge required to handle cats, dogs, exotics, and even wildlife is highest in an ICU setting. When a vet tech never knows the patient's stability coming back to the treatment area, skills and the ability to respond in an instant always stay in peak shape. With treatments evolving at a constant basis, Andria sought out the best Continuing Education opportunities. She attended the International Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society (IVECCS) Conference whenever possible. This allowed her to discuss the latest wound treatments, medications, and advancements in diet formulations. Cardiology Veterinary Technician With the increased knowledge and experience, Andria noticed gaps in her abilities. Her grasp of cardiology remained at the basic level. She wanted to boost her skills and understanding as much as possible, improving her patient care. When an opportunity within the practice arose to move into the cardiology department, she accepted. She sharpened her ability to read ECGs, recognizing arrhythmias of every type. Speaking with the cardiologist, she learned to read echocardiograms, picking out the most common disease processes. And, courtesy of her position in the department, she took in everything she could regarding the grain-free diet concern. And throughout her ten-year career, she built her store of client interactions. She learned stories of heartbreak and hope. In the middle of the night, she shared touching and humorous conversations. Every moment taught her to engage with people. And the skill blended into her writing ability, capturing the interest of pet-lovers everywhere.

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