How to Train Your Dog Not to Bark at the Neighbors

training your dog not to bark at the neighborsNeighbors simply don’t phase some dogs. However, for other dogs, a neighbor walking by provides the perfect opportunity to show off their communication skills. For many houses and neighbors, a little dog barking is no big deal. However, if you live in an apartment complex, townhome, or a condo, dog barking can become an issue quickly. Not to mention, living in a complex increases the chances that someone will walk by your front door and, therefore, cause your dog to bark. So today, I want to discuss a few ways to train your dog not to bark at the neighbors.

First, let’s break down the potential reasons WHY your dog is barking at your neighbors. Barking is a primary form of communication for dogs, but what exactly are they trying to say?

Barking at the neighbors can be classified into four different barking categories:

Protective Bark: This bark is used when your dog feels that your neighbors are encroaching on their territory, or threatening their house in some way. This bark will be strong and will potentially increase in volume as the threat continues.

Fear/Startled Bark: This type of bark will occur when your dog is barking at a noise that caught their attention. Perhaps they weren’t by the door or window, and the neighbors made enough noise that they startled your dog.

Greeting/Play Bark: This type of bark would be used if your dog is interested in playing outside with the neighbors or their dogs.

Ongoing/Excessive Bark: This type of bark arises when your dog’s needs are not being met. They may be distressed, and may have extra energy to burn.

Although I am not a training expert, I feel that it is always important to understand what your dog’s motivation is to choose the best way to train them away from the behavior. Now, let’s move on to training your dog not to bark.

Remove the Motivation: If possible when you dog barks at the neighbors, bring them to another room and distract them. Letting them continue to bark, or even opening the doors or windows is rewarding them for the barking behavior. This can be especially useful when your dog is using a protective or greeting bark.

Ignore the Behavior: Don’t reward your dog by giving them attention when they are barking. Instead, be patient and wait until they stop completely. Once they have stopped barking, provide them with a treat. Keep in mind, the treat must provide a greater reward than the barking behavior.

A Tired Dog is a Quiet Dog: This is especially true for dogs who are displaying ongoing/excessive barking behavior. They have too much energy to sit still, and the neighbor walking by provides them with just enough entertainment to let everyone know.

Provide a Reason not to Bark: Give your dog an opportunity to perform a trick, or show you how they can do to their spot. Not only does this distract them from barking, but it also provides you with an opportunity to reward them for a positive behavior. 

Teach Them to Come When Called: Work on this command and behavior frequently. Similar to the suggestion above, when your dog is barking at the door or window, walk across the room and ask them to come. When they walk over to you, provide them a treat and positive praise.

Don’t Shout or Yell: Shouting or yelling at your dog makes your dog think that you are barking too, and will only increase the behavior.

Implementing any of these suggestions requires patience and input from the entire family. So, don’t forget to get everyone on board when training your dog.

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Positively Expert: Rachel Sheppard

Rachel Sheppard is the author and founder of My Kid Has Paws. She is a Social Media Manager, blogger, animal lover, volunteer, graduate student, and shoe collector.

  • Don't forget the simplest step: introduce your dog to the neighbours! The same stranger walking past your turf multiple times every day could very well be unnerving. So why not ask the neighbours round a few times? Let them know
    beforehand that they'll be meeting your dog (and that the purpose is to help the barking stop, which should hopefully convince them), then concentrate on making it a friendly and positive encounter for both sides. It's harder to be angry at a dog you've tossed a sock monkey for and fed a treat to. And the human will be a known quantity for the dog from then on, so less cause to be on full alert.

  • Michelle Matheny

    I'm ok with a couple of warning barks, mostly because I live alone and my dog is my alarm system. But after that, no more. He's been trained to come to the couch and I tell him "thank you" and he knows he's been acknowledged and I'm going to assess the danger and he's done his job. (Maybe he doesn't know all of that, but anyway lol) It works quite well- I get my warning that someone is outside, he gets a job, and he gets a reward for hopping on the couch and chilling out after.

  • As a general rule with all undesirable behaviours, the more the dog is allowed to 'practice' the behaviour, the more ingrained that behaviour becomes. Sometimes easier said than done but, as the old adage suggests, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." 🙂

  • Gwen Myers

    My dachshund barks every time my bf enters the room when I am home. He is sitting on the couch next to me. David says he doesn't do that when I'm not home. Not sure if any of these will work .

  • Lorna

    the first thing is not to react when your dog barks. Stay calm. If you listen there will be natural breaks during the barking, example... Bark bark bark silence bark bark etc; so when the dog is silent reward it with praise or a treat and say 'quiet'. Do this quickly before the dog starts barking again. The point is to reward the dog when its quiet. gradually the dog will realise it only gets a reward when it STOPS barking. Attention, even punishment will reward the dog with your reaction to its barking so dont' react when the dog barks. Tell visitors not to interact with the dog until it stops barking and you should do the same. Turn you back on the dog and don't make any eye contact until the barking stops. Anthor thing I tried with my dog is I taught her to bark on command, that way you get control of the barking. if you can get you dog to bark you can also teach it to be quiet.

  • Mary Ann Nixon

    You cannot reward the dog in between barks unless you get a good FIVE SECONDS of quiet...otherwise the dog will not figure out that quiet is getting him the treat...not the bark

  • Jennie Mele

    I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much. BUT, whenever I take him for a walks we have problems. So, going for walks is always a challenge for us. And he barks and howls A LOT.
    My husband and I were thinking about taking him to 'doggy school', but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest 'doggy school' is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!!

  • Kay

    OK, that's all good, but what if the dog is barking when it's alone and the owner isn't there to provide feedback? My upstairs neighbor's dog doesn't bark at the door at all when her owner is home, but goes nuts if it hears the slightest noise in the hall when she's by herself. It takes 15-20 minutes for her to calm herself, then she hears another noise and is off again.

  • Jenny H

    How about dogs that just simply enjoy barking???

    Our Ironbark (imitative determinism?) will just take off barking when he's bored. It wakes up the other dogs who rush to the gate with him -- to see? nothing?

    ps we are on 'acreage'. AND he has a lovely deep resounding bark -- so you COULD think of his bark more as Dietrich Fischer-Dieskaua practising. Not like Mad Milly who has an ear-drum shattering bark -- she likes to bark at wee beasties she finds in the leaf mulch. Think of her as Kylie Minogue.

  • Jenny H

    Rather, I would say, introduce the neighbours to the dog 🙂 One of the silkiest things that as ever been said about dog is that you shouldn't talk to them as 'they don't understand English'. If strangers would only say hello to the dog and tell him/her who they are and why they are there, the 'mindless' barking would not happen.
    Some years ago my S-I-L asked for help because the dog in the yard behind theirs was
    barking and trying to get into the yard to kill [her] dogs, Wen visited, the dog n question came up and sunuffled at the fence. Although I couldn't see him, I said "Hello dog!" and a few other niceties. No problem, no bark. S-I-L said -- "But you were cheating, you spoke to him!!" Honestly!! 🙁

  • Alexis

    I think you should focus your dog's attention more on you. The watch me command is a great one for this. Carry a treat like chicken or small hotdog pieces to reward when he watches you. Have him watch when he starts to bark causing him to refocus his attention on you. Then when he's quiet reward him!

  • Josie Harrison

    Hi. My dog can hear something outside and he wakes and barks twice. His bark is super loud and he tends to bark very early in the morning and then wakes us all maybe an house before our alarm. I can't see how this training will help us. Any other ideas? I'm tired now and just want him to stop. He barks in the day too. If someone is in the hallway he will jump awake and bark twice. It makes everyone jump as he's loud. It's disruptive and guests hate it. Thanks

  • Kady

    Fan/white noise to muffle outside sounds

  • Jerry R

    Why is it MY responsibility to train the neighbors dogs to not bark!? I take care of my 95 yr old Mom. Sometimes when I'm there the neighbors dogs are outside in their fenced back yard. If I make the slightest noise, even just opening the door to the garage, they all start barking their heads off. If I go out to do something, the dogs will keep barking and soon all the damn dogs in the neighborhood are barking! It sometimes just drives me NUTS! A few times I've went into an expletive laced tirade that the whole neighborhood could hear. I think I've alienated the next door neighbors, but they do seem to take their dogs inside when they keep barking (at me or someone). Anyway I don't have the time or inclination to train their 3 DOGS.

  • BrotherMan21

    Agreed. I live in an apartment complex with a next door neighbor that has a chihuahua breed. The thing will bark at my slightest movement. I even went to the kitchen for a midnight snack and she barked for minutes. I'm not sure what to do at this point. Almost every interaction with my neighbor consists of her dog growling while enter or leave my apt.

    I wish I could talk to her about it but I feel as if she's disrespecting me by not controlling her dogs.

  • Raisin Robsi

    Do dog training sessions where you teach your dog to bark. knock on the wall, and when he barks in response give him a treat while saying "speak". Once you've taught him the command (accepting any loudness of barking) start being picky with what kind of bark you reward. Only accept a quieter bark when you say "speak". Practice asking him for quiet barks every day. Eventually, he'll learn that the best way to bark is to do it quietly.

  • justwantingquiet

    I have tried that many many times with my neighbors dog and neither that nor giving it treats every time I go outside has stopped the barking. I have never yelled at it, kicked at it (even though my neighbors told me I should) or told it to go away I acknowledge it every time I see it in a nice calm voice and yet every time I go out side it barks at me until I go back in some times this is hours when I'm doing yard work and I have lived here for 5 years with no improvement

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