How to Stop Excessive Barking in Dogs

how to stop a dog from barking excessively
isukk/RooM/Getty Images

Barking is a normal activity for dogs. Excessive dog barking can be considered a behavior problem. Use these tips so you can get your dog to stop barking so much.

Why Do Dogs Excessively Bark?

Your dog needs to understand when to bark and when to be quiet. Part of the responsibility of being a dog owner means this is your job to teach this to your canine. Start working on problem barking as soon as you can. The longer you wait, the harder it gets to curb the behavior. It is a good idea to teach your dog the Speak/Quiet Commands. This may be easier said than done. With dedication and consistency, you can teach your dog to bark on command and to be quiet.

If your dog has been trained and continues to excessively bark at certain times, you'll need to understand the cause of your dog's excessive barking. There are many reasons, including:

  • Fear. This could take place at home or away. This refers to anything that frightens your dog.
  • Protective of their territory. Dogs can become quite territorial if a new person or dog comes into what they consider their territory.
  • Lonliness. Dogs are naturally pack animals. If they are alone for excessive amounts of time, they may bark a lot as a sign of unhappiness.
  • Sign of greeting. This is a friendly bark but can become a lot when the greeting is given to everyone the dog meets.
  • Separation anxiety. Dogs left alone that suffer from separation anxiety will repeatedly bark (and exhibit other compulsive behaviors).
  • Attention. Excessive barking can be used to signal the dog is hungry, needs to go out, or just wants some attention.
  • Medical problems. Some dogs will bark because they are in pain or experiencing a medical situation. Check if there is a particularly tender spot on the body or if other behaviors seem off, have your vet examine your pet dog.

How to Stop Excessive Barking

The best way to prevent barking in the first place is to try and remove any potential sources of the behavior. You also want to be certain not to inadvertently encourage the barking. Finally, give your dog better things to do besides barking.

  • Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise so there is not as much pent-up energy to burn by barking.
  • Avoid leaving a lonely dog alone for long periods of time if possible.
  • Never comfort, pet, hug, or feed your dog when it is barking for attention or out of anxiety. That would be rewarding the behavior, thus encouraging it.
  • Shouting at your dog to stop barking does not help. It may actually cause the dog to bark even more.
  • Avoid punishments like shock collars. They are not only painful and unkind, but many dogs will learn to test them and eventually work around them.
  • Try to get your canine's attention with a clap or whistle. Once the dog is quiet, redirect its attention to something productive and rewarding like a toy or treat.
  • After getting your dog's attention, practice basic commands, like sit and down in order to shift the focus.
  • DO NOT let your dog bark constantly outside, regardless of the reason. You can hardly train the dog to stop barking by yelling at it across the yard. Plus, it is one of the fastest ways to turn neighbors into enemies and send an invitation to your local police.
  • Train your dog to Speak and Be Quiet.
  • Consult your veterinarian and/or trainer if you continue to face barking issues despite your best efforts.

About De-Barking Surgery

"Debarking," or cordectomy is an elective surgical procedure involving partial removal of a dog's vocal cords. Debarking does not take away the dog's ability to bark, it just makes it sound quieter and raspy (considered annoying by some). In almost all cases, debarking surgery is unnecessary and unfair to the dog. Surgery and anesthesia are always risks, so any procedure that is purely for human convenience and does not medically benefit the patient or animal community should be avoided. In addition, excessive barking indicates an underlying issue that is usually behavioral. Surgery takes the noise away, but the anxiety, fear, or similar problem remains unaddressed. Rather than debarking your dog, spend your time and money on training and/or visiting a veterinary behaviorist.

When It's Not Your Own Dog Barking

The sound of barking dogs in the neighborhood can quickly go from nuisance to nightmare, especially when you are trying to sleep or concentrate. If you are comfortable with it, try politely approaching your neighbor to discuss the matter, or write a direct but civil letter. You may try gently suggesting a local dog trainer or behaviorist. Many people prefer to contact the neighborhood association or another group to act as a moderator. As a last resort, you may need to call the police. Keep in mind how this could be detrimental to your future relationship with your neighbors. On the other hand, you may not even care about that after a certain amount of sleep deprivation or annoyance.