AutoShip and save up to 10% | Find out more

How to stop your dog from barking (at everything)

Approx. 7 minutes read

In our previous article on dogs’ barking, we explored the different reasons dogs bark – from territorial and attention-seeking barking, to boredom barking and barking because of pain, anxiety or loneliness. We also briefly covered the different ways to redirect your dog’s barking in those specific circumstances.

If you’ve ever wondered howl you ever stop your dog from barking at the outset, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we tackle the issue of stopping your dog’s barking in its paw-tracks, and whether the use of bark collars is helpful or harmful.

Do dogs get tired of barking?

Dogs bark in order to communicate. There is an arousal when they become anxious or fearful, bored or excited, and their barking relieves and further stimulates that state of arousal, which causes them to bark even more. In other words, they bark because it’s natural and it feels good. If your dog barks at a stranger passing by, their barking may end as soon as the stranger is out of sight (See how my barking chased that potential intruder away?!), but they remain excited and vigilant. At the sight of the next stranger passing by the gate, your dog feels even more triggered to bark the next time around. After all, he’s protecting you!

Barking is to dogs what talking is to humans – we feel good when we do it, and it especially feels good when others hear us and respond! And, just like some people can talk non-stop, which reinforces their need to talk, so they just keep on doing it… so too do some dogs bark continuously (unless you stop them).

How DO you stop your dog from barking?

The reason it’s important to know why your dog is barking is so that you can catch his triggers before he starts to really get in there with the vocal gymnastics! In our previous article, we covered the situation-specific ways to curb your pup’s barking enthusiasm, but if you train your dog away from barking in the first place, then you and your pup (and your neighbours) can avoid a lot of nuisance and discomfort.

A tired dog is a good dog

Aside from keeping a routine with your dog, it’s important to ensure he gets enough exercise every day. Not only does this burn up any excess energy that may contribute to his arousal and subsequent barking, but since you’ll be playing with and walking your dog, you’ll also be addressing his need to be doing stuff with you. You know: bonding.

Intelligent, active dogs need lots of different toys and games, and they need to engage with these toys and with you for at least two hours a day, which means active playtime. Less active dogs are happy with a couple of short walks a day and some playtime on their own (but rather with you) – so gauge your dog’s energy levels and make sure you meet his needs for playtime to ensure he’s not sitting with any excess energy (which he could turn into barking) at the end of the day.

  • R325.00 Add to cart
  • R465.00 Add to cart

A trained dog is a quiet dog

Can dogs be trained not to bark? Paw sure! Even before your dog’s barking can become a problem, it’s crucial to train him. Training is a failsafe method to ensure your dog knows exactly what you want from him. Without training, a dog can become anxious and lack self-confidence, and the subsequent problem behaviours (including barking) will be frustrating for both of you. If your dog barks at someone walking past the gate, but you haven’t taught him that this is undesirable behaviour, then no amount of shouting at him will help him to understand that you expect him to behave differently. (Shouting at a barking dog is perceived as encouragement by the barking dog!)

Train your dog by routine

If you stick to a routine, you’ll automatically train your dog when to expect his first walk of the day, what time he gets to eat, when he can expect playtime, and when it’s time for him to be quiet while you work, eat, watch TV, etc. If he knows when these daily milestones will take place, he’s less likely to bark out of hunger, boredom or anxiety. A routine will also instil self-confidence in your dog because he knows what’s up.

Train your dog with positive reinforcement

This is the ideal way to train your dog to not bark. If your dog barks out of excitement or to get your attention, then ignore him (look the other way; go into another room) until he’s quiet. When he’s been quiet for a short while, give him a treat. If he even makes a little peep or ruffle, don’t treat him or you’ll be reinforcing his barking as a way of getting your attention.

One way to train your dog to be quiet is to first teach him the “speak” command. That is: give the command “speak!” and then mimic what you want him to do (which means you will need to bark until he does). The moment he barks, give him a treat. Firmly establish the command by reinforcing it with treats until he gets it first time, every time. Then teach him the command “quiet”. Say the word and put your index finger to your lips in a ‘shhh’ gesture. Alternate the commands “speak” and “quiet”, rewarding the correct responses each time.

Don’t wait until your dog barks before telling him “quiet”. Throughout the day (and this may take days or weeks), keep up your dog’s training, reinforcing his correct responses to commands like “sit”, “speak”, “paw”, “roll over” and all the other useful and entertaining commands he’d love to perform in return for a treat. If he barks at a passing stranger, put his obedience to the test and tell him “quiet”. This should trigger some salivation and the expectation of a treat, so his attention should be fully on you and not on whatever is making him bark.

Keep in mind that training may take a while to set and it needs to be constantly reinforced. This is all part of sharing your life with a furry friend; so is maintaining a good stock of treats!

  • R78.00 Select options
  • R100.00 Select options
  • R52.00 Select options
  • R87.00 Select options

Redirect your dog’s attention

Another training method to use is to teach your dog the command “place”. If someone rings the doorbell or knocks on the door, you should be able to tell your dog “place” and, without barking or making a fuss, he goes to his place (which is a specific bed or mat – someplace other than rushing to the door).

This kind of training needs to be done, reinforced and retrained on an ongoing basis to ensure your dog displays the desirable behaviour when it’s asked of him. To start, give the command “place” and put a few treats on the area you want him to go to when you give this this command. Repeat the command “place” and only treat him when his butt touches the bed or mat. Once your dog has learnt that this is “place”, get a friend to knock on the door or ring the doorbell so you can practice keeping your dog on “place”. Do not treat him if he barks, as this will reinforce his barking.

There are many ways to positively reinforce desirable behaviour that will ultimately prevent or intercept your dog’s desire to bark. It will take time and plenty of repetition and treats to change your dog’s barking behaviour, but it will grow his obedience skills and result in a quiet household, happy neighbours and a calm dog, which is worth every effort.

Is it legal to use a dog bark collar?

Dog bark collars are legal, but controversial. A dog bark collar emits a vibration or a static shock when the dog wearing it barks. There is first a warning tone before the pulse/shock/vibration is delivered, but essentially a dog bark collar teaches your dog negative reinforcement – to fear the consequences of his barking. Do bark control collars hurt dogs? Some cause discomfort, while others can be downright painful. Aside from hurting your dog, bark control collars can hurt your bond with your dog, which happens when he associates the pain from the collar… with YOU.

Negative reinforcement techniques may offer a short-term solution to a barking dog, but they don’t actually address the cause of the barking. Positive reinforcement addresses your dog’s fear, boredom, attention-seeking, loneliness/anxiety, etc. – giving him very few, if any, reasons to bark. Negative reinforcement may have the unintended side-effect of making your dog more fearful and confused, which negatively affects his mental wellbeing.

Can I use a dog whistle to stop my dog barking?

The dog whistle is only as effective as the association that is made with it. Positive reinforcement with a whistle is a fantastic method for recall, especially from a distance (as can be done with working dogs like sheepdogs and police dogs). But to simply blow a high-frequency dog whistle to try to stop your dog from barking just adds to other noise in his environment. A dog whistle is a training tool, not a stand-alone bark deterrent.

You can use a dog whistle to stop a dog barking, but this response first needs to be trained with positive reinforcement – just like “quiet” and “place”.

How to stop a dog barking when left alone

When a dog suffers from separation anxiety and barks incessantly to relieve his stress, it’s not the barking that needs to be addressed, but the separation anxiety itself. To stop a dog from barking when he’s left home alone, he needs:

  • training and routine to boost his confidence
  • enrichment toys and something to do
  • lots of exercise and playtime before you leave him on his own, so he’s well-exercised and doesn’t have energy to burn
  • someone to keep him company if he has chronic separation anxiety, while he’s in training

We will comprehensively cover the topic of separation anxiety later in this series. Sign up for our newsletter and follow Pet Hero on social media to get the latest in pet care content, our shiniest new products, promotions, not-to-be-missed specials, and more – delivered straight to your inbox!

Subscribe to our newsletter
Share this article
Table of Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents
    More like this...
    How to stop your dog from chewing everything

    Chewing may look cute on a puppy, but it becomes destructive in an adult dog. Learn more about why your dog chews and how to redirect his destructive chewing into more positive, stress-relieving behaviour.

    How to stop your dog from pulling on the leash

    Is your dog just the worst leash-puller ever? Don’t worry – you’re not alone. Most dogs who pull on the leash do so for a few definable reasons. Once we’ve addressed those reasons, you can train your furry friend to be your bestest walking buddy. Here’s how:

    Save with AutoShip

    Sit back and we will place your next order

    100% Secure Checkout

    MasterCard / Visa / America Express

    Pet Hero

    Leaving already?

    Sign up for our newsletter and get R50 off your first purchase.