Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He also trains dogs, mostly large breeds and those that suffer from aggression problems.
Why Do Dogs Bark?
The main cause of excessive barking in dogs is boredom. Boredom is caused by lack of a job, lack of a diversion, and most of all, lack of exercise. Boredom is also what causes most dogs to dig.
Since you probably can't throw your dog into the back of your truck and go sheepherding with him all day, the next best thing is exercise. Take your dog for at least a half-hour walk in the morning. Most barking problems will disappear.
No time to walk the dog? Get up a little earlier and make the time. When you come home, take him for another walk, about an hour if you can handle it. I take my dog for three walks a day and it is good for my health and her physical and mental health.
How to Train a Dog Not to Bark
- Walk your dog
- Praise your dog at the first bark
- Tell your dog "no" if she barks excessively
3 Ways to Train a Dog Not to Bark Excessively
Training a dog not to bark in excess is easy.
- Walk your dog each morning. She will be tired and less likely to bark without reason.
- When your dog barks to alert you (like a doorbell, a visitor, etc) call her to you, praise her once, and give her a treat. Let her know that she is doing her job!
- If your dog continues to bark excessively or goes back to try and earn another treat, tell her "no" (or whatever word you use) and if necessary lock her up in a laundry room.
Reasons Dogs Bark
How do you eliminate these types of barking?
- Aggression: Dogs that bark out of aggression are not barking normally and will not respond to the training outlined above. Consult a behaviorist or good trainer that can work with aggressive dogs. If your dog is not just bored there may be underlying issues behind the aggression; if your dog bites a visitor you may end up being sued. This is a very dangerous type of barking and should not be ignored.
- Doorbell: Teach your dog that someone coming to the door is no big deal. Have a visitor come to the door and let your dog bark like normally. As soon as he pauses give him a treat and say “Thanks”. The visitor should come in as soon as the dog gets his treat. (This would prevent the dog from thinking that his barking drove away the “invader”.) Repeat the exercise, and use the same “Thanks” command each time. It really helps if you have several visitors over several days' time. Your dog will always bark a few times, but after a while (this will vary in every dog so I cannot give you an exact time frame) he will look to you to give the “Thanks” and a treat at the time of each visit.
- Strange sounds: Let your dog bark at strange sounds once (so that she can act as a watchdog), but after that, you should train her to stop. You can train her just like you did at the door. Let her bark once, tell her “thanks”, then call her to you and give her a treat.
- Loneliness: Pay attention to your dog. This is really your fault. Exercise her more, play games with her, and make her a part of your life. I think the saddest “behavior problem” stories I hear are from dogs that are incarcerated in their crates the entire day and then locked up again all night long. Dogs like that bark because they can't play the blues on the harmonica.
The worst kind of barking is that kind that goes on when the homeowner is not around. My dog likes to bark and alert me when anyone strolls down our road. She is not likely to bark when I am not home, though.
Why? A dog who has plenty of exercise does not have this vice, and my dog has a job (she is a watchdog) and also gets plenty of walking. If your dog is not tired enough though you may be able to satisfy her by buying her something to keep her busy, like a toy that you can fill up with pieces of food. She will be busy playing with the toy and is less likely to bark.
The other hard subject to deal with is when a dog barks excessively but does not belong to you. I have included a listing of an electronic product and a demonstration video from YouTube. This may be needed when the dog barking is not your own, you will have no ability to increase or train the dog properly.
Since the results reported with all of the ultrasonic bark control devices are variable if this is your own dog I recommend you train it and not try one of these electronic solutions.
Almost all dogs bark at one time or another. Putting an electronic collar on to prevent a dog from barking is inhumane.
Just train your dog and control the excess.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2012 Dr Mark
Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on September 07, 2013:
Thanks for the referral to this article. I'll have to look into one of these for the little yappers (5 mini-poodles) across the street. I hope the device can 'hear' and react from across a street. There is no way I could put this "near my neighbor's house," as that would be on their property.
We live in a semi-rural area, and it is a narrow street with no real room for on-street parking; barely wide enough for 2 cars to pass. Hopefully, if I mount it on the fence post at the corner of our yard facing theirs, it would work.
B A Tobin from Connnecticut on April 09, 2013:
Great stuff ! I never hear of that device you posted on video. Interesting! Thanks
Nicole S Hanson from Minnesota on March 29, 2013:
That bark control deal is pretty neat! That would definitely be worth the money. Nice hub here!
Sarah Carlsley from Minnesota on January 22, 2013:
Our dog barks at the most random times. This was helpful, thank you.
Judy Specht from California on October 01, 2012:
LOL you know it.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on October 01, 2012:
Collies and kids! Some combo. You will have to exercise them a LOT to make them not interested in the kids, but there are definitely benefits to your health too, so why not? Good luck, they are great dogs but on this issue you have a lot of work ahead of you!!!!
Judy Specht from California on September 30, 2012:
My collies talk. They will sit outside my window and say, "Bark" ! then wait until I pay attention. Last night one of the dogs took a cookie off the counter. The other one snitched on him with one, "Bark"!
This article has such good ideas.
I wanted a some boundaries in my life and I got two collies. If I know what's good for me we hit the park before the school traffic begins.
We live next to a school this will help work on their ignoring the kids coming and going. If I am out side with them they will ignore the the kids, but they run the fence line along the sidewalk and bark when I am not.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 06, 2012:
Yes, not everyone is able to handle Sheltie barking!
Kristin Kaldahl on August 02, 2012:
My particular breed is the Shetland Sheepdog. Shelties were actually BRED to bark using their voice to herd livestock, so they use their voices a lot. I have a "quiet" command on all of my dogs that I can use to stop the barking when needed.
With Shelties and many other high drive dogs, barking is also a sign of what is referred to as "leaky drive." In other words, the dogs can get so excited about a behavior - like chasing a squirrel or doing agility - that there excitement (drive) "leaks" out through the barking. I actually WANT this in my agility dogs, and let them show their drive in this fashion. By shutting it down, I risk shutting down some of the drive I need for speed in the sport.
But most homeowners don't really have issues with "leaky drive" with barkers. Barking is a huge issue, and it's good to see it addressed here. :)
DoItForHer on August 02, 2012:
This is probably the most common problem I'm asked about. The owners ask me how can they stop their dog from barking. I then ask them if they want their dog to bark at an intruder and they respond with a definitive yes. Without exception they are actually wanting their dog to bark appropriately.
You also address the core issue(s) and reward behaviors you want. Most focus on the symptoms, punish the undesired behaviors, and ignore the desired behavior.
They will yell at their dog to stop then when it stops, they don't reward the now quiet behavior. Weird.
Interesting how the symptoms often fade away on their own when core issues are addressed.
I teach my dogs to bark on command. When they have the self control to summon a bark in any environment, they have better self control to remain quiet in any environment.
Waffy had a chihuahua barking somewhat aggressively at her while it was jumping ON her. Waffy healed off leash without a hitch to the amazement of the owners of the chihuahua. Having that level of self control is not because she is special somehow; she has an education.
A dog's abilities are vastly underrated. A dog's ability to control its barking is also vastly underrated.