So you want to stop your dog barking without hurting them? Well I’d love to help you.
Barking dogs can be an absolute nightmare, from yapping puppies, to barking dogs around the house, to sad dogs whining at home because they’ve been left on their own…
And the good news is you are NOT alone!
In fact I was working with one yesterday! (A poor little Golden Doodle who was annoying the neighbors…the owners had tried everything and were just about to strap on an electric shock collar!) Not cool!
So in today’s post I’m going to show you the simple techniques (techniques I’ve used to train over 37,000 dogs) I use to stop all this barking WITHOUT using any force, fear or gadgets that may hurt your dog.
And because this approach is all about dealing with cause of the problem and not just the symptom, it results in a much happier dog…and that will result in a much happier YOU (and neighbors too)!
WHY is your dog barking?
First of all we have to identify WHY your dog is barking, because the solution we use is not always going to be the same. After all, you’d never use the same approach to stop a child who was shouting out for help as a child who was screaming at you for more chocolate, now would you?
In fact, once you correctly identify why your dog is barking, stopping the noise becomes one of the easiest behavioral issues to prevent.
You see, the reason your dog is barking is because they’re not happy about something.
Put another way, they are looking for help!
So here are the four most common reasons that dogs and puppies bark. It’s not a comprehensive list but most dogs and puppies will fall into one of these categories. Once you’ve decided which one best describes YOUR dog, then take a look at the action plan to put an end to it once and for all.
Sound like a plan?
I should add here that many years ago (when I was pretty new to dog training) I used to think that barking could all be sorted out with the same approach. Now I’m a few years older and wiser (hee hee), and I can see the error of my ways.
I’ve realised it’s so much easier to stop barking if you FIRST correctly understand why your dog is barking. And then apply an appropriate solution. Kind of makes sense, doesn’t it?
So here are the main reasons a dog will bark and how you can get started to make things better for you and your dog.
1. Barking because they want something
I’m going to call this the “I Want Bark”.
This barking occurs when your dog wants something, rather like a nagging child. They’re not happy and they’re letting you know. So it could be that they want to come inside, or be let out of the crate, or be given some food, or they simply want your attention.
Ever had your dog tell you to speed up with their dinner? Yep? Well that’s what I’m talking about.
Or bark at you again and again because they want you to throw the ball? That’s this one!
Focus: Don’t reward bad behavior
The key here is that you must not reward any bad behavior. For example if your dog is barking outside to come inside, don’t let them in (I know it’s tempting and you don’t want to upset the neighbors) but if you reward them with what they want then it will happen again and again. Think of it as a little short term pain for some long term gain!
So simply wait and ignore your dog until they’re calm and then open the door. They’ll get the message pretty quickly.
Imagine a child shouting at you to do something…would you just give in to them? No…hopefully you would wait until they were calm. It’s the same approach.
(Now if you are thinking “Well that won’t work with our little Rover, he NEVER gives up”, then there are a lot of other tips and tricks which will convince even the most stubborn barking dogs that it’s best to be quiet, which I’ve added at the end.)
2. Barking because they think there is danger
Now this is what I call “Danger Barking”. In your dog’s eyes, there is danger that needs to be dealt with.
This can occur inside or outside the house. However to keep things simple let’s imagine that it’s inside the house. Your dog hears a noise and jumps up, runs over to the window and starts barking at the people outside your house.
Of course your dog could be barking at other dogs, a noise they’ve heard or something as small as a bird in a tree.
Whatever it is, imagine that there’s no need for your dog to respond with barking. And what we want to communicate to our dogs is…“There is no need to bark.”
But first lets look at where it all goes wrong! Now what typically happens here is:
- Your dog barks…
- You shout something at them (in a very authoritative manner)…
- Only to find that your dog barks again even louder and it all starts to escalate!
- Eventually you end up with you shouting your head off and your dog barking back at you “I’m barking as loud as I can!”
Focus: Stay calm and check it out
Well…what’s happening is your dog is mirroring your energy. So rather than wind your dog up, let’s calm them down.
When they bark, simply say something like “Thank You”, in a VERY gentle voice (rather like you would whisper in somebodies ear). Then if they continue with the barking, go and take a look out the window and again say “Thank You” again very softly, before walking away. (Now I know this may seem odd, BUT it makes total sense to your dog – I promise!)
What you’ve just done is checked out the danger (even if it was just a bird in a tree) and calmly communicated to them using your body language, the tone of your voice and your energy that there’s no need to worry. If they continue barking after you’ve done this then you can very calmly pop them into time out for a couple of minutes.
Of course with all dog training the more your dog takes notice of YOU the better! (Something I’ll explain a bit more later on…) So if your dog is not taking a blind bit of notice then we need to go back a couple of steps and get their focus and attention first!
3. Barking when your dog is left alone
This is what’s generally known as “Separation Anxiety” because your dog after separation becomes anxious. I should add here that this stress results not only in barking, but can also manifest in destructive behaviour, chewing, injuring themselves, escaping, and excessive digging.
The great news is that the following approach will remove the cause of the problem and with it the stress. So all of these issues will disappear.
Now I should point out that this barking is NOT “naughty behavior” as many people think, nor has it anything to do with boredom which is why using a shock collar to try to stop this behavior is such a cruel idea. Let me explain.
Imagine you were sitting at home looking after your young child and suddenly noticed the toddler out on the street! What would you do?
Of course you’d rush out and get them. But…what if the doors were locked and you couldn’t get out? Would you sit down, relax and have a cup of tea? Of course not. You’d shout for help and call your baby back, or try and break free so you could get back to them.
And THIS is why your dog becomes stressed.
You see, when our dogs think they are in charge, and responsible for looking after us, they automatically get very stressed when you leave. That’s why it only occurs when you are not there.
Focus: Become the Pack Leader
Now in this situation I want to give you an overall idea of what to do and what not to do.
The key thing is to realise that your dog or puppy’s barking has got NOTHING to do with boredom! This means that trying to keep your dog occupied by leaving bones down and loads of chews and toys stuffed with peanut butter are unlikely to work. In fact it can make things much worse, so pick up the food.
Really, if it solved the problem everyone would say “Hey, your dog’s barking – leave a bone down!”
Instead what I would focus you on doing is giving your dog the message you are the Pack Leader and there is no need for them to worry about where you are.
Now one way you can do this is by leaving your home calmly and then coming home calmly and ignoring your dog. (I know this may sound a bit harsh to some of you, and it may not be what you want to do, but this advice is all about doing what’s best for your dog and how to stop the barking!) Also, remember they are a different animal, and just like ignoring the cat or a goldfish when you enter the house it will not result in them being upset.
In fact this is one of the key ways you can HELP your dog relax when you are not there.
It gives your dog the message that YOU are in charge, not them, and as explained above, it will help them stop worrying about you when you are not around. When you’re ready, you can always call them over to you, on your terms, for love and cuddles.
Now of course there’s a lot more to becoming the Pack Leader. It’s an essential key to having a happy, obedient dog, which I’ll touch on later.
4. Over excited barking
Now this barking can happen both inside the house or outside.
The best way to think of it is to imagine some children playing… then you’ll get the idea of what is going on… They start to have fun, then they get excited, then they start shouting and then start yelling!
Bottom line is they are NOT being naughty, but it can be really annoying, and it’s certainly something you want to keep handle of.
Now of course with children, shouting at them does NOT work! And… it’s the same with your dog.
If the barking is starting to get out of control as they race around the garden playing, here’s what to do.
Focus: Calm Actions
First you need to step in and take control of them calmly without a word and then demonstrate calm energy by doing one of the following two actions or a combination of both:
Option 1. The Calm Freeze:
- Here you simply crouch down.
- Take your dog by the collar, using an underhand grip, under the chin, palm facing up.
- Say nothing, look away and breathe slowly and deeply.
- Hold them for a couple of seconds until they are calm.
- Then release the hold and stand up…
- They will be much calmer. See the video below
Option 2. Stop-Start-Change-Direction:
- Here you first attach a lead.
- Then simply walk your dog around changing direction every second or two.
Again, what you’re doing is taking control of your dog calmly. Then you’re calmly showing them how to behave.
In both the above examples, there is no need to speak. The aim is to calm your dog’s energy with your actions.
Silence is very powerful and dogs respond to it. In fact it may surprise you just how well they respond when you give it a go!
When you’re trying to calm excited dogs it may take some repetition, however dogs are smarter than you think and they’ll soon work out what you are asking for.
How to speed up your training
As with many things in life there are lots of shortcuts and ways of making things easier for yourself. So here are some big tips to help you get to your end goal quicker.
1. Your Energy is everything –
Dogs are super sensitive and pick up on our deepest emotions and slightest body movements. If you think of your dog as like your mirror, then you will start to understand that the calmer you are, the more chance your dog will be relaxed.
Here are a few things to practice which will help you achieve success.
- Speak less: Often our voices betray our fears, we end up talking too fast and too much, and our dogs pick up on concerns and panic.
- Breathing: Breathing slowly and deeply is the simplest way to slow your heart rate and calm your body.
- Focus your mind: Visualise exactly what you want you and your dog to do. Now there is no room in your mind for anything else but success.
Watch an example of my two dogs demonstrating this calm energy perfectly with a young, over-excited barking dog.
2. Control the environment –
If things are getting out of control then learning to control the environment is the first stage you need to master.
- The key concept is to keep control at all times. In other words DO NOT LOSE control of your dogs (think of a horse that has bolted from a stable)…a dog who is off leash and does not respond to a recall is by definition “out of control”.
- To avoid this situation you need to leave a short or long line (as in the video above with the barking dog) on them so you can take control quickly and calmly when you need it. At the same time your dog still gets to run around.
- Eventually when the recall is up to scratch you can remove the lines altogether and just rely on good old verbal recall to get your dog to come!
3. Become the Pack Leader –
The more your dog respects you and sees you as the Pack Leader the more they will listen to you.
Unfortunately good information on this topic is hard to come by and so while most dog owners believe that they are the Pack Leaders, their dogs DO NOT!
“To help a dog you need to think like a dog!
You would never think like a bird or a fish and apply bird or fish psychology to your dog! And yet most of us are applying our human psychology to our dogs and expecting them to be impressed!”
Our dogs are totally different animals…for example: take a goldfish. Would you put them on the couch, make them a cup of coffee and turn on the TV for them…No, of course not. They’re not human!
And it’s the same with your dog. The way that you communicate to them that you are the Pack Leader is COMPLETELY different to how most people think.
4. Set your dog up to win –
No matter what training you do with your dog, setting them up to win is the best approach.
This will return the best results, both in terms of minimum time and effort.
Very often we push things too fast and do not realise that our dogs are struggling with the speed that we are progressing. Then things fall apart and we all get stressed. By slowing the training down, dogs relax more and start to succeed!
This includes finishing on a high rather than continuing until your dog gets tired, can’t cope and starts to fail!
5. Be Consistent –
The more you can get everyone onboard with what you are doing the better.
This means it’s best if:
- Everyone in the house is up to speed with the plan and what’s going on
- Everyone in the house follows the plan at all times
- And sticks with it!
Okay, so there are the 4 most common reasons that dogs bark, with a plan of action on putting a stop to it, along with 5 tips on how to accelerate your dog’s training.
Remember; taking the time to understand WHY our dogs are actually barking will result in happier dogs and therefore happier owners 🙂
The Easy Way to an Obedient Dog
If you want to discover MORE about the easiest way to stop barking then get hold of my FREE 4 part videos series “The Easy Way To An Obedient Dog” by clicking the image below.
This series shows you THE KEY to stopping the 34 most common dog and puppy behavioral issues including BARKING!
And explains why this approach is hands down the winner compared to other dog training methods.
As with most things in life…there is an EASY way and there’s a hard way.
The choice is yours!
Iif you have any questions or comments, please post below. And if you enjoyed this article, share it with a friend who could benefit from it!
All the best with the barking,
~ Doggy Dan
Below: “Young Doggy Dan” and the now…“older and wiser” 🙂