Figuring out how to train a dog not to bark can be tricky. Dogs bark for several reasons, and you’ll need to determine the reason behind your dog’s excessive barking before you can begin training her to stop. Whether your dog barks from boredom, anxiety, for attention or to alert you to the presence of strangers, getting her to stop involves teaching her that she’ll be rewarded for being calm and quiet.
To train a dog not to bark, you'll need:
- Encourage good behavior. If your dog barks at the mailman or people walking past your house, wait until she stops barking then say “enough” and give her a treat for being quiet. Don’t speak or pet her while she’s barking or you’ll be rewarding her for being noisy. Give your dog extra practice by having a friend knock on the door instead of waiting for someone to pass by. Repeat this technique to train your dog that not barking results in a reward.
- Help your dog overcome fear. If your dog is timid and barks at people approaching her, ask a friend to help you practice teaching her to be calm around people. Have her sit or lay down, then have your friend slowly walk up to her. Have the person stop as soon as your dog gets anxious and toss treats to her so she’ll associate people walking up to her with something rewarding. Practice this training over several days or weeks until your dog remains relaxed as your friend gets closer to her.
- Startle your dog into silence. If your dog barks for attention, shake a noisemaker such as a can of coins. The sudden, loud noise will startle her and cause her to stop barking. When she’s quiet, reward her with a treat or toy. Make sure you wait until she’s not barking or she’ll think you’re rewarding her barks.
- Make your dog comfortable being home alone. If your dog barks when she’s left alone, she could be suffering from separation anxiety. Other signs include soiling inside the house or destructive chewing when left home alone. Training your dog to overcome this condition takes a lot of time and patience. You’ll need to start small. Step outside the house then walk back in before your dog starts barking. Don’t fuss over her when you return. Gradually increase the amount of time you stay outside, but don’t reward her by walking back in when she’s barking. Try leaving a radio on and plenty of toys for her to play with while you’re gone.
- If your dog barks because she’s bored, give her toys to chew on or puzzle treat toys to challenge her and keep her occupied.
- If your dog barks a lot while playing, stop playing with her until she’s settled down. Continue playing when she’s quiet, but stop again if she gets too noisy.
- Don’t shout at your dog when she barks. This increases her excitement and makes her more likely to keep barking.
- Never use physical punishment on your dog. Hurting her will cause her to be afraid of you, which could lead to aggressive behavior.
- If your dog barks constantly when you’re not home and obedience training isn’t working, try a citronella collar. These collars release an unpleasant smell each time your dog barks, which should encourage her to stop.