Barking

The modern dog tends to lead a relatively unstimulating life in the domestic home, with nothing more to do than eat two meals, sleep on the couch and go for the occasional walk.  Dogs that were specifically bred to work can find domestic life boring, and in most cases barking relieves that boredom.  Even though dogs bark for many reasons including excitement, anxiety, for attention or to sound an alarm, the best prescription for any barking issue whatever the cause is increased exercise and mental stimulation, which helps to refocus a dog’s mind and tire them out.

First of all it is important to find out why your dog is barking. As with all training, you cannot successfully address the issue until you understand why the behavior is happening.

If your dog is barking at you for attention or because she wants something, ignore her until she stops.  This might be hard to begin with as she might bark longer and harder in an attempt to get your attention, but be patient.  Wait for 5 seconds of quiet and then reward that quiet with attention.   Repeat this as necessary.  Your dog will learn that barking gets her nothing but quiet gets her the attention she desires.

Dogs bark with excitement just as we humans like to vocalize when we are in exciting situations.   This barking normally occurs before going for a walk or being fed, which can be hard to work with because humans usually have a fixed pattern of pre-departure and pre-feeding cues which are highly ritualized.   Dogs pick up on these cues and bark in excitement for what is about to come.   The first thing to do is to change your cues as much as you can and stop what you are doing when the barking starts.    If your dog barks when you go to get her lead, for example, put the lead back where it was and go and sit down.  If you manage to successfully attach the lead when she is quiet and then the barking starts again as she goes outside, immediately came back in and wait for quiet before going out again.  This technique requires patience, but your diligence will pay off as your dog learns that being quiet is the only way she gets to go on a walk or be fed.  All of these training techniques require no verbal communication with your dog whatsoever.  In situations like these, body language speaks volumes and as dogs are so good at watching our every movement, it is a language they quickly understand.

Each dog needs an outlet that is specifically designed to motivate them and serve their particular needs.   Find an activity or sport that your dog really enjoys doing, taking into account what your dog’s breed or mix of breeds is.  Enrich your dog’s life inside the home by hiding her toys or food around the house and encouraging her to seek them out using her canine senses to find them.  Instead of feeding your dog from a bowl for every meal, try feeding her through activity toys at meal times instead so that she has to work to get her food.  Working for her meals will stimulate her brain and tire her out.

Some dogs do not do well by themselves and suffer anxiety upon separation.  Vocalizing this distress is a way of easing that anxiety as well as a way of trying to re-establish contact.   If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, you need to enlist the help of a qualified positive reinforcement trainer to help you with a modification plan.  Separation anxiety can be a hard behavior to modify and time is needed for success.

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40 thoughts on “Barking

  1. Cynthia Mulit

    Hi Victoria,

    Thank your for the information.

    Do you feel the security jackets have merit?

    (I have a Havanese who barks when left alone, especially in an unfamiliar place. She is helped but not resolved with food activity toys and a long walk. She was middle of the pack dominant in terms of her puppy assessment. I realize the breed as a whole is needy. A can with pennys helps at home when strangers come to the door.)

    Thank you in advance,
    Cynthia

  2. Heather

    Our dog barks, fur up, when anyone, including family members come to visit and he knows who it is. He will not stop even when they come to the door despite having a good view of the front area/drive to see their car arrive and who is getting out. Have tried removing him and bringing back when quiet. Called and given treat when he comes and is doing something like sitting and not barking. He will still bark. He is not anxious abouit being seperated as we can come and go at any time also he is used to going with me to dog trials over weekends and being in the car - he is very well behaved on these occassions. I would appreciate you advice on how to handle this as it is a very real problem.
    Thank you - Heather

  3. Jennifer

    These are all great tips, but do you happen to have any suggestions for dogs that bark in the yard at outsiders? Our rottweiler/pointer mix is anxious around people and objects that move fast so anyone that runs, bikes, pushes a stroller, large trucks that pass, children playing, etc. by our house she barks at until they are out of sight. We have tried bringing her in every time she barks and telling her to sit until she calms down but she goes right back to the same habit. We've also tried calling her inside when she starts barking and rewarding her for coming when called but it's to the point where we have to call her in constantly. It's a shame because we have a big fenced in back yard and it's hard to leave her outside for even 20 minutes without constant supervision due to her incessant barking. She does get daily exercise with walks and she also goes to doggie daycare twice a week. Any and all suggestions are welcome!! We have our first child on the way and have been trying to break this habit!

  4. David Rutherford

    Hey,

    My dog suffers from anxiety when i leave the house, the Council are involved with lots of noise complaints, other than this, he is very well behaved and has a great routine. He is a Pomeranian and is 20 months old.

    i am desperate for help, can you advise on a professional in the North east? Or further reading I can do?

    thanks

  5. Clare

    Hi and thanks for this post. I have two dogs and this addresses Comet's issue - barking with anticipation when we go outsde. Lucy, on the other hand, barks in the house when she sees or hears another dog or cat. I try to distract her with toys but I can't jump up every time she goes bonkers. She also goes bonkers when she sees the cat. So, the poor thing spends most of her time in the basement or under the bed. She doesn't mind Comet because he's still around her. But Lucy barks and jumps crazy. Any suggestions?

    Thanks so much!

  6. Katie Bjorlin

    Our English Springer Spaniel we can't get her to stop barking at rabbits and birds right outside the window in our yard! Do you have any suggestions for that? Thank you! :o)
    Katie

  7. Jackie Valadez

    Thank you for article on barking. My dog Buddy is a 23 month old Shitzu/Maltise. Whenever he goes outside to relieve himself or just play. He constantly starts barking. We live on a corner and have people walking with and without animals and cars driving by. Sometimes nobody is out and he still barks. He LOVES his walks!! Any advice would be appreciated.
    Thank you.

  8. joby cleary

    We (my chihuahua and pomeranian) experience someof these reactions but they are pretty well under control. The one thing I do differently when they are on the back of the couch and bark at whatever I say sssshhhh and they stop and look at me and most of the time calm down. I wonder what you think of this. I just watched your show whichi always enjoy and learn from. I must say some are unbelievable! Glad I haven,t gotten into a pickle like some of them!

  9. Corie

    I have a year and a half old Chihuahua who seemingly has an unlimited amount of energy. We take her outside to our 1 acre back yard and she will chase and retrieve a ball for an hour, come in and take a short nap and this is READY TO DO IT AGAIN. I can't seem to tire her out no matter how many times she runs. This is fine during daylight hours, but after her last run for the evening, the barking at the door to go out gets to be a bit much! I bought a red laser light which she chases all over the family room, but she is always ready for more...and she has developed a knack for emitting an ear-piercing shriek if the barking doesn't get her what she wants.

  10. Ada

    Hi Victoria,
    My 2 year old terrier mix female has been in continuous training since she was 10 wks old. We keep her busy with agility, obedience and nose works. Rarely a day goes by that she doesn't get at least a one mile walk. We play all kinds of games after dinner and usually go to a park on the weekend. Bella has her AKC Good Citizen certification and has passed a therapy dog test. In a training arena, she shines. When we are out in public Bella barks at anyone that approaches her. She barks whenever she sees a neighbor walk past our house. When we are walking on our road she barks at anyone that walks past us. It appears to be territorial since in a park or other public place she will mostly ignore other dogs and people as long as they don't approach her. Sometimes on our road, we move off to a distance and I can get her to sit/stay till the neighbor passes.This usually means walking into a field at least 10 yards away. Bella has never bit a human or dog and doesn't seem like she wants to. A couple of neighbors have been willing to feed her treats. She snatches the treat and backs off and barks. I'm frustrated! My neighbors are cautious and becoming less friendly. What can I do?
    Thank you,
    Ada

  11. June McLeod

    Every morning as soon as my dog hears even a tiny movement from upstairs she starts to bark! I am trying to go to her only if she is quiet and I walk away and wait a few seconds till she's quiet then try again. I have been doing this for the past couple of months but she doesn't seem to be getting the message. My husband insists that I should tell her off then leave her but I believe in the positive approach and wondered if I should continue or if you can suggest anything else to help.

  12. Sandy Kennedy

    Thank you for this info, we do have a barker and he also has separation anxiety, but we have pretty well conquered it, he is doing very well while we are away.
    Have A Great Day!

  13. Jean

    Victoria,

    The barking problem we have, is that my dog barks at anyone, a car coming in the driveway, and even noises outside. She also barks at anyone coming in the house and continues to bark at them until they give her a treat or sit down.

    I understand an alert bark, but she doesn't stop. So how do I get her to stop without giving her attention for it in the first place? Do I train her with a command that gets rewarded when she stops barking?

    Thank you and I'm a big fan of yours!

    Regards,
    Jean

  14. Manuela

    Thank you for your advice, Victoria! But what do we do if our dog barks at bikes, trucks, buses, kids, etc while out on a walk? I tried the +R training with him, rewarding if he didn't bark, but he seems to get too agitated when he sees one of the "triggers" and just starts barking without thinking....

    Thank you for your help!!!

  15. Judy

    Dear Victoria, thank you for the barking info. I have a Yorkie Poo 15 mo old. She barks for my attention all the time. It's that squeak bark. I say to her quite and walk away into another room and shut the door for a minute or so. She waits by the door for me to come out. She will be quite for a short time and then wants my attention again. We play a lot and take walks. That squeak bark is ear piercing. I think she wants 24/7 attention. What should I do? Should I stay in the same room and ignore her or leave the room and shut the door? I have had Molly since she was 3 1/2 mo old. We did go to obedience training. They didn't touch on the barking at all, just the stay, leave it, sit commands. She knows what the commands are but she is very stubborn and will only do it when she wants or if I have a treat in my hand. She is very hyper. Any advise you can give me I would truly appreciate. I'm a senior citizen and want a companion that is obedient and calm.
    Thank you for any advise you can give me.

    HELP!!!!!

  16. Carol

    HI Victoria,

    We have 3 dogs and our oldest, smallestone is the barker! He is a Cairn terrier mix who came from our Humane Society a year ago - he was surrendered at age 10 - is now 11 and is very healthy. When he barks in the house we've managed it by reducing the windows he has access to. However, the biggest issue is on walks. I'm with Manuela who also posted - once we are out on walks and often a distance from the house then he will bark at any and everything and not stop. If we were close to home, I could turn around and try and let him learn by not heading out. Am very frustrated and still want to do something positve. The shelter paperwork said they used a citronella collar with him, but didn't indicate if it worked but again, we'd like to stay with +, if we can. I also would like to know if the anxiety vests work. He gets a long walk every day, rain, snow or shine. If you want to come to Colorado for a challenge, let us know! 🙂

  17. Edwina

    We have a 1 year old mix of an Australian Shepherd and Australian Cattledog named Roxie. She gets 2 1/2 hour or more walks per day, plus lots of indoor playing. She is very smart and sweet, but she goes crazy barking outside in our fenced in yard. Sometimes there is a reason for the barking, such as a dog or geese outside the fence in an adjoining yard. Sometimes it seems like she just barks to hear herself. What can we do to get her to stop? I don't want the neighbors to hate her or us. Thanks for any input you can give me.

  18. Sylvia

    Hi, I have a 3 yr old Jack Russell bitch, that we rehomed from an animal sanctuary almost 2 yrs ago. She is a great pet in all other aspects apart from barking at other dogs. We have had her to a dog behaviourist and he has confirmed that her barking isnt aggressive and that it is a lack of socilal skills and anxiety around other dogs. we have taken her to meet other dogs and she is great with that, but continues to bark on the street when she is walking. I usually give her a STOP command as soon as she pulls on the lead and i see her getting excited. Sometimes it works, sometimes not! When she does manage to walk by a dog without barking i give her lots of praise, but she persists! i would love any tips or hints that anyone could offer. thanx. S

  19. Pam Varouxis

    Thank you for the information. I bring NIKKI, the Boykin Spaniel to work w/me Monday - Friday. She is a bit timid around people. I believe that has to do with the time we had to place NIKKI in doggie day care when she was barely 5 months old due to my husbands kidney and pancreas transplant. NIKKI gets along w/most dogs but she has issues with people who come into our place of business. Normally she will pick up a toy and bark at the visitors with her tail wagging a mile a minute. We have tried a number of things but have been unsuccessful in getting her to stop the barking. Even when people she knows come in she will bark at them for several minutes. I am at my wits end and I don't want to leave her at home. My husband walks her daily, she also runs and chases the ducks and geese into the lake, she also plays in the creek, we also play with her at night and she does go to doggie day care once a week so she can run to her hearts content. I have had trainers come in to work w/her to no avail. We have tried getting her to sit and then giving her a treat but nothing seems to work. I am open for any suggestions at all. BTW we also have a lab puppy that comes to work as well and she is f ind with strangers.
    Thanks for the up date and please keep doing what you are doing.
    Kind regards,
    Pam

  20. Lynne

    Need some help with my GSD. At home hes quite and well behaved but in the car he barks at everything, people, cars, trucks, trees? He never barks at the door or strangers but barks at other dogs and trys to grab them round the neck, yet he has three dog friends who he walks nicely with. When we walk him he trys to chase buses and lorrys and barks at them. Hes a rescue and we've tried training but there were no distractions and he was fine until he out. Once he starts you can't get through to him at all. I'll never give up on him as hes a rescue and deserves a chance but i can't seem to get through to him with any amount of treats. Any advice gratefully received.

  21. Melanie Wignall

    My Ridgeback X Douge de Bordeaux barks with excitement - I've only had her for 5 months and have started Agility Training with her, she loves it. The other time she barks is when i put my knife and folk down after i have finished a meal but not cleared away my plate (I think she must of got tit bits at one of her 4 other homes) She's a 3 year old beauty though and here to stay with me and my choco lab.

  22. Mira

    My Frenchton female puppy just turned one and she is not fixed yet. She barks every time she hears a noise outside my apartment door, it is really disconcerting, what can I do? Also she has taken to lunging and barking at most dogs we encounter on our walks, it makes it so uncomfortable to walk her for fear she'll bite another dog or get herself bitten because she doesn't like any other dogs in the vicinity. Do you have any suggestions?

  23. Tracu

    Thanks for sending this article out. My 2.5 year old Bichon/Poodle Mix is quite the barker. She barks at random times and its hard for me to figure out what triggers her barking. Sometimes she's fine walking down the street. Other times she randomly barks at strangers. She sometimes barks at other dogs walking down the street but at other times she's fine with them.

    I have tried stopping every time she begins barking. As soon as she stops I give her a treat. We start walking again and she immediately barks again. So I stop again until she quiets down but as soon as we walk again the barking continues. Any other ideas/suggestions on how to prevent this and stop it completely?

  24. Debora

    My border collie barks and growls at anyone who comes into our house or sees on the street. He also runs up to them while barking/growling and won't settle until he's been right up to and realised they are not a threat. After 2 minutes he is fine and wants to play and be fussed by them, but on first meeting he is very frightening and we dont feel able to have people over to our house. Our house is open plan so theres nowhere to shut him away apart from outside. Walks are also becoming miserable. I would really appreciate your advice.

    Debora

  25. Gloria

    I have 2 chiahuahua's 1 1/2 and the other 2 1/2..My younger one barks at anyone and everyone. I adopted the younger one at the shelter and it's taking some time and patience but she is finally allowing family to come and visit without biting and barking at them. However, when the two are together watching out the front living room window and they spot another dog they go completely crazy and begin to bite eachother and tend to be ficious. I will remove them from the window until they are calm and providing positive reaction but I worry when I go off to work and what they do eachother when looking out the window. Do I keep them from looking out the window?
    What do I do?

    HELP..... Thank you G

  26. Donna

    Hi Victoria
    we have a chinese crested powder puff , Milly is 16wks old and has only done 1 toilet outside !!! , she has 5 acres to run around with our 2 border collies and can be out for at least 3 hrs but the moment we get in she wees and poohs inside . ive tried training pads to no avail and put her outside after meals but the moment she comes in she relieves herself , have you any good tips to help me please many thanks Donna

  27. Claire Tranah

    Hi our dog is called Boe, he is 18 months old, king staffordshire bull terrier,we live in a flat & our garden is down a stair way & when he goes in the garden some times he barks continously, but I don't know why he does this & how to stop him from barking like this, we have tryed many things to stop him but nothing seems to work, do u have any suggestions? we will appreciate any advice. Many thanks claire x

  28. Teresa

    Hi Victoria,
    I have 2 cocker spaniels who are almost 4 years old. I have some trouble with one of them barking when he hears people in the hallway (I live in a condo). He will run to the door and start barking. We've worked on this to a point. When he does it I say "away" and he stops and walks away from the door. The problem I am having is when I'm not in the room. Getting ready for work in the morning or when people are coming home in the evening. I can say "away" from another room but he doesn't stop until he actually sees me. Any suggestions?

    The other barking issue I have is with children, strollers & bicycles. I try to explain to people that children need to just sit down or be quite and allow the cockers to come to them; not to chase them around. They were getting better with children but it seems everytime they start to trust children again they get chased before I can stop it at the dog park.

    With strollers and bicycles, people sometimes stop outside the dog park and watch the dogs. What should I do to stop the dogs from barking? Should I take them out of the park and walk them up to the bike or stroller?

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions you have! - Teresa

  29. Helaine

    Hi

    We have a Hungariun Puli who barks whenever someone knocks on the door strangers or someone she knows, she only shutsup once shes been made a fuss of, we have tried to ignore her but she doesnt stop, any suggestions?
    Also when she hears me get the plates and cutlery out for dinner she makes a strange noise as if she is calling everyone to the dinner table, then if i call the children she goes bounding full bark to find them, it drives me MAD !! please please do you have any suggestions on what we can do to stop it.

    Thanks Helaine
    Basingstoke, hampshire

  30. Natasha

    Regarding barking - I have three dogs, one is a golden mix who barks at trucks like fed ex or ups, one other barks sometimes when I go out and he hears the gate, this gets the others going and I have to go back in to quiet them. I have a horrible cranky neighbor who is constantly complaining to landlord that my dogs bark for two hours at a time. I know that this is a lie and I think the landlord knows it too. I am thinking of getting a tape recorder so that I can see for myself how long they bark but he is the type of person that will complain after 10 minutes. They are not constant barkers but it is very s tressful dealing with the issue plus a someone who is a constanst crank. Any ideas? I've also thought of parking my car around the corner so he doesn't know if I'm home or not (he lives above me and can see when my car is there). He never cmplains when I'm here so maybe if he's not sure whether I'm home or not, I can know for sure what is going on. VIctoria can you help me?

  31. Helen

    Barking- I have a 5 year old cocker spaniel who I have constantly trained but his problem of jumping up everyone for attention has got so bad I told everyone to completely ignore him so now he constantly barks at people for the attention and I am now at my wits end what to do next, please can you help me?

  32. Kathleen

    I just adopted a hound / mix from puerto rico who is 5-6 mos. old. She is learning very quickly and has made lots of friends at the park. A major problem I am having with her is that now that the weather is getting a little warmer there are more young children out and about. When I am walking her and she sees a small child she will bark incessantly at them. The hair on her back rises. I just shorten the leash and drag her away in the other direction feeling embarrassed. She gets along with other dogs and adults with absolutely no problem. How should I reach when she starts to behave like this? I feel like I am doing more harm than good and I don't know anyone with small children to try to help her feel at ease with them. Please help!

  33. Pingback: Featured Shelter Animals Dec. 12, 2014 - Mesquite Local News

  34. Dee Becker

    I need some advise for my neighbor, we have talked about her 2 caviler king Charles boys,when they are out side they will bark constantly for what seems like a hour, my 2 goldens are well behaved and will just sit by or close to the fence, I will call them to me to not be in their view, but the barking continues, and the one dog will feed off the other, most of the time, the neighbor does nothing, or does not know what to do to stop this behavior, it has really become a problem, even if I am outside in my yard, they will start barking uncontrollably .. we just moved in our new home here in Florida, and we are enjoying our nice big space, but the noise level from the 2 next door has become a big problem, we spoke about it,because she has brought it up,and I did mention they were barking excessively every day, I would love to help her in training, I never had to train with this kind of behavior, will the treats with positive reinforcement work with this? and what steps to take on the training, thank you for any input

  35. samburket

    I would like the answer to this question, also. We just added a stray to a family of two cats and two labs. The stray barks at people that walk by. What can I do to tell her that we don't need all the noise? Alas, the question was asked two months ago with no reply yet, so I don't expect one soon. Woof woof woof woof.

  36. rsrhodes76

    Hey, I'm dealing with the exact same situation! It's such a nuisance. I live in a duplex and my neighbor has ever dautchounds, I'm sure I misspelled that, that bark continuously from the time th3 owner gets up in the a.m. and heads outside. The dogs bark more when he's home or in the yard than when he's not home. Even when he's not home they continuously bark at cars that ride by, car horns, other dogs being walked by their owners and even more of an issue, they bark at every sound I make when walking, cleaning, cooking, and when my dog and I play ball. My dog never barks. Except for when someone knocks. I haven't said anything to him yet because I hate conflict. But, it's been 6 months since they've moved in and they should be well adjusted. It's totally the owner and it's only gonna take one more time of waking meoup at 2 in the morning or I just can't take it anymore. uut

  37. Ann Garudio

    Our dogs have also developed the bad habit of barking when anyone passes by the house. If we know we are going to have someone visit we prepare them. They will have the leashes on and be on 'spot' and stay there quietly. However, if they are not in their kennels or on spot they will bark at people, bikes, cars, etc. They do not bark at them when we are on a walk and they pass by. Hope you can offer me some help.
    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Thanks, Ann

  38. Tilly

    Our dog barks whenever the car stops when we get out of the car she stops
    It gets really loud inside a small area we all rush to get out any ideas

  39. Carole Clack

    hi .any advice welcomed, when I take my Chihuahua coco out to walk she walks great till she sees another dog then its pull and not stop bark till we pass my other dog is fine how can I stop her help ?

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