15 Ways To Stop A Dog Barking Excessively

15 Ways To Stop Excessive Dog Barking

All dogs bark, but why do some dogs bark excessively? It is normal behaviour for dogs to bark; after all, this is how they communicate vocally with other animals and us. Think of barking as your dog’s language. The key is learning to identify what your pup is expressing when it barks. You can take steps to minimize their negative effects, but if left unchecked, sometimes barking can get out of control!

What Causes Dogs To Bark Excessively?

1. Find the Trigger

Finding the trigger is the first step to working out the cause of the problem. A dog may bark when reaching out to another dog or when it is looking for attention from us. Most dogs bark when they are being territorial, afraid of thunderstorms, fireworks even the doorbell. Some dogs that bark excessively suffer from behavioural issues such as boredom, loneliness, fear, and separation anxiety.  Other dogs bark too much when they travel in a vehicle or when they are playing. Certain situations can cause a dog to bark repeatedly. Triggers can be everyday things such as the lawnmower, vacuum cleaner, umbrellas, hats and even people wearing glasses.

2. Be Patient

Yelling at your dog will only make things worse and sends the wrong message. Dog training is an essential part of raising a puppy or adult dog. It is your job as the “pack leader” to step in and control excessive barking. Getting your dog to bark less won’t happen overnight, it will take time, work, practice, and consistency.

Excessive dog barking

3. Dog Training and Positive Reinforcement

Once you have identified the actual trigger, introduce behavioural modification training to teach your dog not to bark excessively. This involves retraining your dog’s brain to disassociate the trigger with the need to bark. By using positive reinforcement and rewards, you can teach your dog what ‘good’ behaviour is. You and the entire family must use the same commands each time and keep treats and rewards consistent too.

The more patient, consistent and effort you put into dog training, the better. Everyone loves a well-trained obedient dog that listens and able to follow simple commands. That should be your overall goal.  Barking can often be stopped by creating a distraction such as playing a game, producing toys or showing your dog you have treats. Also, remember to reward your dog’s quiet behaviour. Dogs are super smart, and they love treats nearly as much as they love you!

4. Bored & Lonely

One of the most common reasons a dog barks excessively is a result of being left alone.  Some compulsive yappers like the sound of their own voice and often make repetitive movements such as running along neighbouring fences. This bad habit can destroy friendships between neighbours, and often in desperation, the barking problem is anonymously reported to local councils. Being left at home for a long period may cause some dogs to bark excessively. Dogs are social animals, so options such as doggy daycare or a dog walker are good ones.

Excessive dog barking

5. Do The Neighbourly Thing

First, if you suspect your dog’s barking habits may be a problem, talk to your neighbours. They are the people who can tell you what your dog gets up to when you are not around. Ask them to keep a record of how many hours of the day your dog barks continuously and excessively. This information can be useful in identifying the underlying issue or trigger. Otherwise, install a pet cam and see in real time what your dog is doing anytime.

6. Out Of Sight

Dogs that are provoked from moving objects such as people, dogs, vehicles should have this direct line of sight removed.  Blocking their view can often resolve the problem. It may be necessary to make other small changes to your dog’s environment to ensure it is less likely to bark when you’re not around. Capture the good behaviour as well. When your dog doesn’t bark from a trigger then be sure to reinforce with verbal praise and rewards.

7. Let’s Get Physical

Dogs need regular exercise and a safe place to expend their pent-up energy. Introducing a walk before and after work can make all the difference for a barking dog. Not all dogs, especially working dog breeds such as Border Collies, Cattle Dogs, Kelpies and German Shepherds, are happy to laze around all day. These more active breeds need to be kept busy, or they are sure to misbehave and ark up.

To prevent active dogs from excessively barking give them bones to chew, toys to play with and hide treats around the home or in puzzle feeders. Hiding treats in dog puzzle toys will encourage your dog to use its canine senses. Providing more mental challenges, such as agility training and playing obedience games, can be fun and also help decrease barking.

excessive dog barking

8. Bring An Outdoor Dog Inside

There are many sounds outdoors that can potentially trigger barking. Dogs that sleep outdoors at night may be triggered by other dogs barking, the wind, possums and moving trees. Training your dog to sleep in a quiet place indoors at night is the best solution for dogs that bark from sounds. It is also safer as dogs left outdoors can be stolen, escape and get into all sorts of other dangers.

Some pet owners swear by crate training to stop night barkers. It takes patience to train a dog to love its crate, but your pup will settle into a bedtime routine in no time.

9. Can Barking Hurt A Dog?

The answer is yes.  A dog that excessively barks can get a sore throat and damage its vocal cords. Laryngitis (inflammation of the larynx) is often caused by barking too much over a prolonged time. The throat becomes inflamed, sore, and the bark sounds hoarse.

10. Why Does My Dog Howl Excessively?

Some dogs develop the undesirable habit of excessive howling as a cry to get attention. Certain noises can trigger some dogs to howl excessively such as fire engine sirens, specific types of music or other dogs.  For many dogs, howling is part of their DNA! All the tips in this article can be used to decrease this annoying habit.

excessive dog barking

11. Are Barking Collars Cruel?

Barking collars are a hot topic, and everyone has their own opinion whether they are cruel and inhumane. A more popular and humane anti-barking collar emits a burst of citronella when a dog barks or howls. Dogs don’t like the smell of citronella, and these collars serve to create a negative association with this undesirable behaviour. Citronella spraying barking collars work best on short-haired dogs. Other pet owners use water pistols to stop their dogs from barking; however, this method can increase barking as dogs that love water think it is a game.

The treatment of excessive barking should begin by establishing the root cause of the problem and then addressing the underlying cause humanely. Again talk to your vet on how best to humanely manage this nuisance behaviour.

12. Vet Check

Get your dog checked out by a vet if there is an underlying medical condition such as cognitive decline or chronic pain. Your veterinary is the best person to turn to for advice, and you may be referred to an animal behaviourist. If you are struggling to train your dog on your own, you should seek out a dog trainer’s help. In some cases, your vet may prescribe a medication for your dog in conjunction with behavioural modification and strategies. Your local RSPCA can also offer helpful advice.

13. You Should Never

A dog should never be stopped from barking completely. Your dog must be allowed to bark at some noises and discourage from barking at others. Never use a muzzle or any other anti-barking constraint to keep your dog quiet as this can be very dangerous to your dog.

excessive dog barking

14. Recommended Reading

Author Turid Rugaas is renowned for her work on identifying and utilising canine calming signals. Turid is a dog trainer and behaviourist who has studied canine social language for more than 30 years. She has turned her attention to understanding and managing barking behaviour. Her book, Barking – The Sound of a Language helps pet owners be realistic and logical about the barking dog instead of frustrated and angry. Turid provides simple and easy techniques to understand better and appreciate our furry best friend and ways to modify dog behaviours.

15. Never Give Up

You may need to seek professional help to break the cycle of excessive dog barking. When you decided to become a dog owner, you committed to loving and caring for your dog.  Many dog owners have been in the same situation as you. So never give up, every dog can learn how to be a better behaving pet. Just like children, dogs can benefit from a firm voice and some time out.


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