Woof! Woof! How do I stop that dog from barking?!
The noisy dog is the bane of neighbors everywhere. Forget the crazy kid parties, and the motorcycles without a muffler; it is the barking dog that causes the majority of neighborhood arguments, and noise complaints.
So why do dogs bark, and how can we stop that barking behavior?
Why Do Dogs Bark?
- Warning. Dogs may bark to warn others to stay away from his belongings, or his space.
- Alert. Guard dogs vocalize to alert pack members of interesting, or possibly dangerous events. For example, my Shiba Inu will bark whenever he sees or hears something unexpected. He stops, once I come over to check things out.
- Defensive. Dogs may use their bark to scare away possible threats.
- Boredom/Frustration. Dogs that are left alone for long periods of time, bark because they are bored and frustrated. When dogs have pent up, hyper energy, that they are unable to release through exercise, they may bark and charge at the fence.
- Stress. Fearful dogs may become highly stressed, when people or other dogs invade their space. As a result, they may vocalize and lunge, to scare people or other dogs away. Dogs with separation anxiety may bark, whine, and cry, when their owners leave.
- Excitement. Some dogs bark when they are playing or greeting people, because of excitement.
- Attention. Finally, dogs will also bark to get attention. Many owners give attention or affection to their dog, when he vocalizes. This becomes a reward to the dog, which causes him to keep repeating his barking behavior.
1. Dog Obedience Training
When dealing with a noisy dog, remember that barking is often a symptom of some other problem.
Contrary to common belief, dogs do not bark just to annoy us and our neighbors, nor do they do it because of spite or vengeance.
The best way to stop dog barking, is to identifying the root of the behavior. Once we deal with the source of the problem, the “woof, woof” symptom will disappear.
First, we need to be around to observe our dog. We want to identify –
- What starts our dog barking, for example the postman coming,
- Why our dog barks, for example to protect his territory, and
- Whether our dog is rewarded for his barking, for example the postman walking away.
Once we understand these three things, we can develop a plan to retrain our dog. During the retraining process, do not leave him alone where he can practice, and be rewarded for his barking behavior.
Here are some training techniques to stop dog barking:
a) Teach our dog the “Quiet” command.
When our dog starts barking, bring out a really high priority treat, say Quiet, and give the appropriate hand gesture in front of his face.
The smell of the treat will engage his nose, and the hand gesture will briefly startle and distract him. This will probably cause him to stop barking briefly. As soon as he stops, mark the behavior (Yes) and treat him.
Keep practicing this until he understands the command. Then, we can slowly increase the duration of the Quiet command, before treating.
We can hasten the training process by initiating the bark trigger ourselves, for example by ringing the doorbell, squeaking a toy, or playing a recording of sirens.
b) Ask for an alternative command.
In addition to Quiet, we can also ask for other commands that are inconsistent with barking.
For example, we may ask for a Down command, because dogs do not normally bark when they are lying down.
In fact, it is even better to use the Go to Mat command, which gets our dog to move to his bed and lie down. In this way, he moves away from the trigger object, to a location where he feels comfortable and safe.
c) Distract our dog.
We can also distract our noisy dog by engaging him in an alternative activity. For example, we can play a game of tug, or give him a food toy, so that he is not focused on the bark trigger.
It is best to consistently establish a routine for our dog, so that every time he starts to bark, we get him to go to his bed, and play with his food toys. If we repeat this often enough, he will automatically perform this behavior instead of barking.
Note – For retraining to work, it is crucial not to let our dog practice his barking behavior when we are not around. If he practices unsupervised barking, and is inadvertently rewarded for it (e.g. by the postman leaving), he will keep repeating that behavior. With more practice, it will become a habit, and be more difficult to stop.
When we are not around to supervise, crate our dog in a quiet section of the house, and put the radio or television on, to mask the noise from outside. Only do this for short periods of time (< 3 hours). If we will be away for a longer duration, then consider dog daycare or dog walking.
2. Dog Daycare or Dog Walker
Retraining our dog to stop barking, may require a fair amount of supervision and time. While we are at work, we can consider putting him in dog daycare. Alternatively, we can hire a dog walker to take him on group walks, at the park. Both these activities will keep him engaged, well-exercised, and prevent him from practicing his barking behavior.
Note that daycare or dog walking does not train our dog to stop barking.
It just removes him from the bark triggers, and gives him other activities to keep him engaged. If we stop these activities, he will likely start barking again. However, daycare or dog walking are great ways to prevent him from practicing his barking behavior, during the retraining process.
While it does not retrain our dog, it at least keeps the problem from getting worse.
3. Anti-Bark Collars
Anti-bark collars are a popular way to address dog barking issues. These collars are convenient, because they automatically deliver an unpleasant sensation to the dog, when he barks. In addition, the strength of the unpleasant stimulus is increased, if he escalates the frequency and volume of his vocalizations.
There are two types of anti-bark collars, a spray collar and a shock collar.
The spray collar automatically sprays the dog’s face with citronella when he barks. If he escalates his barking, a stronger spray is delivered.
The shock collar automatically delivers an electric shock to the dog’s neck, when he barks. The more he barks, the stronger the shock. Sometimes, marketeers refer to these collars as stimulation collars, gentle training collars, and other more people friendly terms, in order to make a quick sale. Do not be fooled by these sales gimmicks.
All anti-bark collars work by punishing the dog for barking.
They do not address the root of the problem, but instead try to suppress the barking behavior through the delivery of an aversive stimulus, for example, pain. As with many other aversive training methods, these collars run the risk of causing aggression in dogs, and other behavioral issues.
For example, our dog may bark every time the postman arrives. This would cause an electric shock to be automatically delivered to his neck. Rather than associate the pain to his barking behavior, he may associate it to the postman instead. This may ultimately cause him to become aggressive toward our innocent mail carrier.
If we *do* decide to use an anti-bark collar, it is perhaps best to only use the spray collars, or citronella collars. Studies (Steiss, Soraya) show that shock collars do not work any better than the spray collars, and they have a much greater likelihood of encouraging aggression in dogs.
When it comes to calming “nuisance-barking” dogs, a spritz of fragrance under the chin is more effective than electric shock, a test by the Animal Behavior Clinic at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine has found.
There are also ultrasonic bark deterrent devices. However, since this affects all dogs in a given area (including dogs who are not barking), it has gotten poor reviews. Punishing dogs that are not showing any undesirable behaviors can lead to stress, anxiety, and even more behavioral issues down the road.
Shock collars are commonly used by dog veterans, during highly supervised training sessions, and solely for off-leash distance work. Leaving a shock anti-bark collar on an unsupervised dog, for protracted periods of time, is dangerous, and may cause physical and/or mental harm.
Make sure to monitor our dog closely when we use an anti-bark collar.
Watch out for signs of increased aggression, stress, fear, or other behavioral issues. Set up a web-cam to record him, so that we may observe how he responds to the collar when he barks. Some dogs become extremely stressed or frustrated, and may even escalate their barking behavior.
Remember that anti-bark collars work, by suppressing the barking behavior, and does not address the root of the barking problem.
Even though it may stop dog barking in the short-term, the problem may reoccur once our dog gets habituated to the spray or electric shock. It also increases the dog’s stress level, and lowers his quality of life.
4. Surgical Debarking
Surgical debarking, debarking, or bark softening, is a surgical procedure where tissue is removed from a dog’s vocal chords, to reduce the loudness of his barks.
Most debarking procedures do not completely remove a dog’s vocalizations. Dogs that are debarked, usually have a huskier, softer bark that can only be heard at close range.
Surgical debarking is a controversial subject, and many consider it to be inhumane.
As with anti-bark collars, surgical debarking does not address the root of the barking issue. Instead, it may add stress to the dog because he is now silenced. The dog may feel more vulnerable, and may be more likely to use his bite, since his bark is no longer available.
Because of these reasons, surgical debarking should only be considered as a last resort option; when the only other alternative is euthanasia. Take the temperament of our dog into account, and consider how this process may affect his long-term quality of life.
Debarking is illegal in England. In the United States, debarking laws are determined on a state by state basis. Currently, it is only illegal in Ohio.
Hello, My 9 month old Cocker Spaniel loved to play and loved kids, people and dogs.
When he is at home he barks at the dog next door as does that dog as well. Its an aggressive dog bark at the fence running up and down. Then when the front door is open and people, dogs kids on bikes etc go past he will aggressively bark at them. The other day I was in the park having a picnic with my grandchildren and sisters when a little boy walked past, my cocker spaniel ran after him and jumped on his back and ripped his shirt, he did not bite, or didnt get a hold because I pulled him off, but Im not sure as it was so fast. The little boy was fine but I am now very scared and dont trust him at all and dont know what to do. Its my fault and I have to fix it. Please Help. Thanks Mollie
What has worked well with my dogs is to establish structure and a consistent set of rules at home and also during walks. One way that I do this is by following the Nothing in Life is Free program.
Here are some more things that I do to teach my puppy good behaviors and discourage bad behaviors-
How I trained my puppy.
Puppy obedience training.
Here is an article on how dogs learn.
I had a difficult time with my Shiba Inu, Sephy, when he was young. Getting help from a good professional trainer can be helpful.
Hope this helps. Hugs to your puppy and let us know how it goes.
Hello! I have two male mutts with TERRIBLE barking habits. I cannot even address the first step, because I do not know why they are barking. I don’t think they do it for attention, because they do it whether I am around them or not. One time I tried completely ignoring their barking for three weeks and it had no effect at all. Then I tried making them come inside every time they bark (they are usually in the bark yard when they are barking), but whenever I would go out there they would run away from me because they knew what I was trying to do, and when I went back inside they would start barking again. If I did manage to get them inside, they would just look out the backdoor and keep barking. As far as I can tell, they are usually barking at nothing. When there is actually a person/animal near the fence, they bark much more loudly and aggressively and I can always tell the difference. They also bark whenever someone knocks on the door or comes near their side of the house, but I have had some (limited) success in preventing this response by having a water bottle handy at all times. The main problem is I cannot let them in the backyard for very long anymore because they bother the neighbors, but I hate to keep them cooped up inside all day because they love to be outside running around and playing with each other. Do you have any idea why they do this, or what I can do?
***in the BACK yard (although I supposed bark yard is a more accurate description)
What seems to help with my most recent Sibe puppy, Lara, is to increase her daily exercise. I lengthened our walks and also took her to different places so that she has more fun smelling and exploring. I also make Lara work for all of her food (through obedience exercises, grooming, interactive toys, etc.).
I set up a fixed schedule and routine for her so that she knows when walk time is, when play time is, when meal time is, and most importantly when nap time is.
I also taught Lara the Quiet command. In this way, I put it under command control and I am able to positively reinforce her for not vocalizing.
Dogs bark for a variety of reasons. Here are some common ones. It is difficult to say why a dog barks without looking at the dog, his surrounding context, and his regular routine.
My puppy, a 7 month old shiba inu, won’t stop barking!
When he barks we put him in the crate and we spank him.
But he still doesn’t learn and keeps barking really high- pitched.
What to do?!
Here are some things that worked well for Shiba Sephy –
1. Setting up a consistent routine and schedule.
In this way he knows exactly when it is time to walk, eat, and most importantly to sleep. I also establish a very consistent set of house-rules. I get Sephy to follow the house rules by following the Nothing in Life is Free program.
2. Timeouts and crating.
In general, I want to set Sephy’s crate up as something positive. This is because he goes to sleep in his crate and he also goes in his crate during car rides. The crate is a safe place for Sephy, where he goes to eat and sleep. This is how I crate-trained Sephy.
For timeouts, I use the laundry room. I make sure it is safe but boring.
3. Obedience & Redirection.
What works best for Sephy is doing a lot of obedience exercises and using redirection. When he does something undesirable, I redirect him into doing something else. Teaching a dog the Quiet command can also be helpful.
4. Exercise and Other Structured Activity.
Sephy is the most hyper when he has nowhere to put his Shiba-energy. I found that if I give him a lot of structured activity to do, e.g. several walks, play sessions, obedience sessions, grooming sessions, supervised dog-play sessions, he is a lot less likely to complain and/or cause property destruction.
Here are a few more things that helped with Sephy-
How I Trained My Puppy
Shiba Inu Training Secrets
I have a beautiful American Bull Dog/Pit Bull mix. He is 6 years old. I feel like a bad owner because I haven’t been able to control his barking. He barks when people come over and it takes him a while to calm down. If I put him outside when people come over then he barks at the door. I know his barking is fear/stress related. Sometimes he’ll calm down after a while but if someone moves too fast or focuses on him he’ll start barking again. His bark is loud and he’s a big dog so he scares the crap out of everyone and my neighbors are understandably annoyed. He’s been to obedience training and is so good, besides the barking. PLEASE help!!!
What has helped with my dogs, is to do people desensitization exercises to help them get used to new people and associate new people with positive outcomes.
(My grandma doesn’t want my dog inside the house the 2nd day he arrived so I had to move him on our terrace inside a create. He gets out on his crate when he eat, when he potty, when I walk him(but not on rainy days here on the tropical region) – all 3x a day, and when he gets to play. After 30min-1hr I put him back, and he just keeps quite and sleep when he see me enter the house.)
Dog barking issue with my sibe Bullet starts when
(1)he see me or my relatives walking about or just talking in the terrace while he is on his crate – closed door – he wants to come out.
(2)when other people approach him and talk to him, or when I am talking with other people – while we are outside
(3)when I go down stairs to do laundry or clean his poop or just have some time with my cousins and other people and not in his sight
(5)when he is really pumped up
– often I accompany this list with a TSSSTTTTTT! a couple of times when he barks, which really don’t work.
I hope you can also give me some advice regarding this issue. I’d appreciate it.
By the way is it OK to walk him already at 9weeks, we sometimes walk and run a couple hundred meters from home and back.
Dogs may bark when there is activity going on because they want to join in. Like us, dogs are pack animals – they need and enjoy frequent interaction with us and with other dogs. Also, puppies are more energetic and need a lot of activity to drain their energy. Some breeds are also more affectionate and energetic than others, and Siberian Huskies are one of those more affectionate and very energetic breeds.
More on Siberian Huskies
As for the TSSSTTTTTT! sound, it is simply a no-mark. A yes-mark or a no-mark is simply a unique sound to mark good and bad behaviors. To condition our dog, each mark usually has to be followed up by a positive or a negative consequence.
As for walking, I don’t usually walk my puppy outside until after she has received all of her vaccination shots. Puppies can sometimes become very sick from sniffing or eating infected feces from wild animals or adult dogs.
My 10 months old English Cocker Spaniel had develop the barking behaviour recently. She never use to bark but recently at night when we r asleep she will be in our bed and when she hears a sudden noise she will bark which I’m aware is to alert us so we then will take her outside to show her there is nothing there and come to bed with her. Her bark are not continues its more of alert bark. How do I stop her from barking in the middle of the night?
My Shiba will sometimes alert on strange sounds as well. That is part of his guard instinct, so I usually just go check things out. If I know it is just my neighbor, I give him the Quiet command, and he usually stops. When he was younger, he would sometimes keep going for a bit, so I would either ignore him or give him a timeout-lite by *briefly* draping a towel over the door of his crate, so that he can settle down.
I also noticed that Shiba Sephy alerts less now after we installed new windows that are great at keeping outside noises out. During hot weather, I have the windows open but a large fan on for my Sibes, and the sound of the fan also helps to mask out sounds from outside.
Is there a common sound that she alerts to at night? If so, sound desensitization exercises may also help. When Husky Lara was a puppy, she used to get really afraid of coyote noises at night and she would start to whine. So we got a recording of coyote noises and slowly desensitized her to it, starting from a very low volume.
i have a 2 year old rottie, he barks uncontrollably when my partner leaves the house or goes into another room, and nothing can calm him down until he calms himself down, its like hes a possessed dog, he also barks at the neighbours, birds, people walking by, cars, he can nearly jump a 7 foot fence if he hears something, weve tried all sorts of techniques, from a water bottle to a vibrating collar and nothing seems to work, they work for a couple of days and then he gets used to them and isnt bothered by them, we are at our wits end, we love him but hes getting us really down with the barking, we just dont know what we can do anymore to try and stop it, any advice would be grateful
It could partially be a separation anxiety issue.
My Shiba is also a guard dog so he will alert and bark when he sees unexpected things happening or when people come to the door. I come to check things out when he does this, and thank him for the warning. Usually he stops barking when I come over. If he doesn’t, then I just give him the Quiet command (previously trained). Then I redirect him into doing something else with me – e.g. play a game with him, or get him working on chewing his favorite toy.
My Sibes will sometimes bark because of excitement. When I take them on shorter walks, they are more likely to get over-excited at home. What seems to be most helpful is to keep them busy with sanctioned activities – longer walks, work for all of their food, play sessions, etc.
Pat Earle says
Help I have recently adopted a rescue dog. A very friendly medium/large bitch who has been in a shelter for around five years. The problem is howling, whilst I am in the house I can tell her to stop and she does[ eventually]. The problem is the howling that goes on when we go out.Me neighbor is complaining and I don’t know what to do. We have a large garden and I have left her in the garden with food and shelter thinking it would appeal to her given her history, I have left her in the house, still the same problem. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
What helps a lot with my Siberian Huskies is to provide them with a lot of activity and exercise. When I take them on shorter walks, they are more likely to get vocal in the backyard, mostly alerting to noises they hear from outside. Now I make sure to keep them busy and I also make them work for all of their food.
Are there particular noises or smells that set your dog off? What triggers the barking?
Another thing that helped with my Sibes is to first put the behavior under command control, e.g. train the Quiet command. Then we can slowly desensitize our dog to her bark triggers in a positive context.
Please please please I really really really need help with my dog’s nonstop barking, she is usually quiet but one I touch the plate under the metal crate she will bark nonstop, so what should i do at that time? I dont understand y she barks whenever I touches her plate under the crate.
It is difficult to say without a lot more context. It could be the result of fear or anxiety.
Hi i have a shiba inu this is my first dog. Im starting to think i made a mistake getting her because i spend alot of time at work a typical day i may be gone from noon to 1 am.Im worried this might be to many hours shes left alone;is it? My puppy is 4 months old and the issues im having with her are,her biting my hand and arm, she chews the bottom of the sofa,she attacks my pants while im getting dressed, her barking when im sleep and she wants attention, her barking and crying when i walk out the front, door and her energy. but i hink she has alot of energy because i dont walk her she needs another set of shots.Any advise is greatly appreciated, thank you.
Yeah, my Shiba, Sephy was a crazy ball of energy when he was puppy. He would totally drive me nuts and be biting at books, curtains, cabinets, etc. This is with 5 walks per day, 2 long walks > 1 hour, and 3 short ones.
With Sephy, he really needed some off-leash play time. He really loved to play with other dogs. Some things I did with him before he got all his shots –
1. Puppy class. I enrolled him in puppy class where we did both commands as well as short play sessions with the other puppies in the class.
2. Puppy play groups. There is a daycare center in my area that does supervised puppy play groups. They check to make sure that all puppies that come by are current on their shots.
3. Puppy play dates. My neighbor at the time had a really awesome puppy so I would go fetch her as often as I could and have supervised one-on-one play sessions at my house.
Here are some other things that helped with Sephy when he was a puppy –
Shiba puppies do take up a lot of time and attention though. If a Shiba puppy is not a good fit for you, consider re-homing her through a rescue. She is still very young, so the transition would be easier for her.
Good luck. Let us know how it goes.