How to Stop a Dog From Barking and Understand Barking Behavior

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Does it ever seem like your dog is, not only the most vocal dog on the block but also the loudest? You’re not alone. I vividly remember taking a walk when our pup was just a few years old and being shocked when I heard her barking from blocks away. Many dog owners find themselves asking how to stop a dog from barking, or at least be able to manage the barking behavior. Barking doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but it is a behavior that most dog owners would like to keep at a minimum for courtesy and sanity! This is especially true if your living situation is near others.

After spending hours researching different methods to help stop a dog from barking, we quickly realized the goal is a combination of understanding when the dog is using barking to communicate and when it is used to get attention or be dominant. While the Humane Society provides some information to help dog owners, we also asked several pet owners how to stop a dog from barking and what tips and tricks they could pass along.

Throughout the methods listed below, keep in mind that barking is a completely normal behavior for a dog to communicate with the world around them. Many dogs use barking as a way to alert you to something that scares them, like another dog or person, or something they need, like access to outdoors or a water dish refill. We encourage dog owners to evaluate their dog’s barking behavior to have a better idea about the best strategy to stop their dog from barking.

Since how to stop a dog from barking relies heavily on understanding why the dog is barking, we’ve broken down barking behavior into 4 groups and explained several techniques you can try to help your furry friend quiet down.

We hope this list provides a few options about how to stop a dog from barking and helps keep the peace and quiet between you and your neighbors!

#1 Barking for attention
#2 Barking in crate
#3 Barking at others
#4 Excessive barking
#5 Seeking advice

#1 Barking for attention

Ignoring the barking can be an effective technique to stop excessive barking.

If you believe your dog is using their bark just to get your attention instead of communicating, there are a few methods you can try to stop a dog from barking.

Many pet owners say the first thing they try to stop a dog from barking for attention is to try and ignore the barking behavior. This method relies on the owner to not respond by looking at the dog or verbally answering the dog. While effective, many dog lovers mentioned how persistent their dog can be to get their attention, especially at the beginning of training!

If ignoring the barking behavior doesn’t seem to be working for you and your companion, you can try to train them when to speak and be quiet. When your dog is barking, loudly say the word, ‘quiet’. If they stop barking, give them a treat and praise them. Repeat this technique until your dog understands the command to be ‘quiet’. Oftentimes, hearing their owner use a loud voice will get them to quiet for a moment which can help reinforce the training. 

The Humane Society also suggests using puzzle toys and making sure your dog is getting enough exercise. This will also help curb the desire to bark if your dog is merely seeking attention. 

#2 Barking in crate

Distractions like background music or a crate-safe toy can help make crate time quieter.

While many dogs learn to love their crate and value the security and comfort it can bring, some dogs are also very vocal about being confined. If your dog barks when they are in their crate, there are a few things you can try to help curb the barking behavior.

Start by offering a distraction like a favorite toy or puzzle. Some toys have spaces to ‘hide’ treats and you might be surprised at how fast your dog will forget about barking if they have a challenge in front of them! Always keep your dog’s safety in mind before placing any items in a crate with them. 

If you are leaving the home, some dog owners suggest closing the window shades or leaving a TV or music playing. Both distractions will create an environment where your dog is less likely to respond by barking at small noises or outdoor critters. 

You might also have success with training your dog to be quiet while in the crate. This method relies on only rewarding your dog once they have been quiet in the crate. It may just be a few seconds when you first start, but gradually you should be able to increase the amount of time they are in their crate quietly before rewarding them with a treat or praise. If you or your dog find this method stressful, take a break and try again later.

We also have a guide specifically for crate training a puppy with more useful techniques.

#3 Barking at others

Manage your surroundings on walks to help keep experiences positive for dogs and people.

How to stop a dog from barking at other dogs or people can be difficult to manage because dogs often bark at other dogs or people for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s just a friendly way of greeting them or playing, but how they respond can also point to their previous experiences interacting with others. Other times, it might be about the size of the other dog.

Many dog owners found a successful response from repeated socialization with others. Try to keep the experiences positive! There are many ways to do that. For example, if your dog is interacting with people, let the new person give your dog a treat. You can also begin the interaction by giving your dog a command like ‘sit’ to keep their attention focused.

If your dog is barking at other dogs out of excitement, it might be best to manage their surroundings and walk on paths or neighborhoods with less dog exposure until they are more at ease. However, if you can’t switch directions and your dog is barking out of fear or aggression, many experts suggest that you keep walking past the other dog. This will allow your dog to ‘keep moving’ away from the other dog and not feel as much anxiety because you are leading them away. Rewarding your dog for quietly passing other dogs or people can make a big difference. Bring a few treats along on your walk for these interactions and give your dog plenty of verbal praise.

There are many classes designed to help socialize your dog with other dogs and people. Ask your vet or local pet store for classes in your area to help keep your dog’s introductions to others a quiet, positive experience.

#4 Excessive barking

Dogs with excessive barking habits might benefit from collar that beeps or vibrates.

Some dog owners look for collars that can help curb excessive barking. Our research looked at collars that make a sound (often a beep or buzz noise) and collars that vibrate. Both the noise and short vibrations can be used to distract the dog from the barking behavior and may be seen as a negative reinforcement to barking. 

Many of the vibrating or noise-making collars can be operated by a small remote or have a sensor in the collar that is activated by the vibration of the dog’s bark. Having a remote is useful for owners to decide what kind of barking behavior really needs a distraction. Barking is a normal behavior for dogs and can be a useful tool to alert the owner to an injury or threat. It is up to the owner or a professional to determine if the amount of barking is excessive.

It’s always a good idea to speak with your vet before deciding what vibrating collar is best for your dog. 

We did not research electric, or shock, dog collars as they are controversial and may cause fear, aggression, or anxiety for dogs.  

#5 Seek Advice

Addressing the barking triggers for your dog might require some expert guidance.

If you’ve tried these methods and the barking behavior hasn’t lessoned, consider asking your vet or an animal behavioral expert for advice on how to stop a dog from barking. If your dog is a rescue, there may be other barking triggers the dog is responding to that might require additional support for training your dog at home. 

As you may have guessed, changing your dog’s barking behavior won’t happen in a day, but over time, many dog owners have success stories from using a few of the techniques mentioned above. Many dog owners who want to know how to stop a dog from barking also mentioned other behaviors like biting. We created a separate guide that looks at biting behavior and what dog owners can do about it.

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As a parent, dog owner, dog foster caregiver, and writer, I strive to create a loving home environment for all two and four-legged creatures. My background also includes research analysis and journalism. I work closely with animal behavior experts, trainers, and staff at Dog Training Boss to provide clear information that helps dog owners make the best decisions for their canine.