Is Your Dog Barking Too Much? Here’s How to Stop Excessive Barking

  • By: DogTraining
  • Date: January 24, 2024
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Having a dog that barks excessively can be frustrating and disruptive for you and your neighbors. While some barking is normal, excessive and uncontrolled barking can indicate an underlying issue that needs addressing. You can use several practical approaches to curb excessive barking and restore peace and quiet.

Why Dogs Bark Excessively

You must first understand why your dog is barking so much to tackle excessive barking. There are several common reasons dogs bark frequently:

  • Boredom or lack of stimulation – Dogs left alone with nothing to do will often bark out of boredom and frustration.
  • Territorial barking – Dogs may bark excessively in response to people, animals, or noises near their territory.
  • Attention seeking – Some dogs learn that barking gets them attention from their owner, rewarding the behavior.
  • Separation anxiety – Dogs with separation anxiety may bark, whine, or howl when left alone to express stress.
  • Compulsive barking – Dogs with compulsive barking disorder bark compulsively in response to triggers without apparent reason.
  • Medical issues – Excessive barking can sometimes indicate an underlying medical problem like cognitive dysfunction or pain.

If excessive barking is a new behavior or occurs in a senior dog, check first with your veterinarian to rule out any medical causes. Once you determine the root cause, you can modify the behavior.

Training Your Dog to Stop Barking

Dedicated training is needed to teach your dog when barking is appropriate and when to be quiet for most cases of excessive barking. This takes time and consistency but can produce great results. Here are effective training strategies:

Ignore Attention-Seeking Barking

If your dog barks excessively for attention, it’s imperative to ignore them when they bark. Give them attention only when they are quiet. This removes the reward of your attention for barking. Turning your back on the dog can reinforce this.

Interrupt and Redirect

When your dog starts barking uncontrollably, interrupt the behavior with a loud “enough!” or clap. When they pause, even to look at you, reward them with praise and a treat. This teaches them that being quiet earns rewards, not barking.

Teach a “Quiet” Command

Use treats to reward your dog anytime they stop barking on their own. Once they reliably stop barking for a treat, add the “quiet” command before giving it. After consistent practice, they will stop barking when you provide the command.

Create a ‘Dog Cue’

Choose a specific word you only use when you are about to interact with your dog, like “pup-pup.” Whenever you say it, give your dog attention and treats. Say it frequently when they are calm and quiet. Soon, saying the cue will prompt your dog to stay silent in anticipation of the reward.

Apply the Learn to Earn Method

This approach requires your dog to perform basic obedience commands like “sit” or “down” before getting anything they want, such as food, attention, or access to the yard. Your dog learns they must behave obediently and refrain from barking excessively to earn rewards.

Look for Triggers

Pay close attention to identifying the triggers that cause your dog to bark frequently, like a mail carrier arriving or seeing another dog on a walk. Use treats, training, and management techniques to desensitize your dog to these triggers or prevent the barking reaction. For territorial barking, block access to windows where they observe triggers.

Keep Your Dog Mentally and Physically Stimulated

Dogs prone to boredom barking need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. Provide puzzle toys stuffed with treats, take your dog for long walks, play fetch and training games, and create a DIY agility course – anything that engages their brain and body. A tired dog is less likely to bark from boredom.

Consider Doggy Daycare

For younger dogs or highly energetic breeds like Labrador Retrievers, a doggy daycare service can be the perfect solution for excessive barking from boredom when you are not home or busy. Daycare provides constant play and interaction with other dogs and camp counselors.

Use a Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP) Collar

These collars emit pheromones that mimic nursing dog moms to promote calmness and contentment. While not as effective alone, DAP collars can help take the edge off while using behavior modification training to curb barking. Speak to your vet before use.

Try Anti-Barking Devices

A wide variety of anti-barking devices available may help manage excessive barking when training alone is not enough. They should never be used as a standalone solution, only paired with training. Different options include:

  • Spray bark deterrents – Citronella spray collars detect barking and emit unpleasant smells. Some dogs become accustomed to the smell, limiting effectiveness for a long time.
  • Sonic bark deterrents – These devices emit a high-pitched noise that only dogs can hear when barking occurs—not recommended for dogs with noise phobias.
  • Automatic bark correction collars – Shock collars and citronella bark collars automatically activate when barking is detected. The stimuli are intended to interrupt barking. Avoid shock collars if possible, as they can increase anxiety. Only use as a last resort under guidance from a trainer or behaviorist.

Consult an Animal Behaviorist

For more difficult barking cases that do not respond to training or other solutions, seek the advice of a professional certified dog trainer or animal behaviorist. They can conduct a behavioral evaluation of your dog, identify factors contributing to excessive barking, and design a customized training and management plan to address the barking behaviors. This is often the best path to resolving persistent extreme barking issues.

When Excessive Barking Indicates a Problem

In some circumstances, excessive barking can signal an underlying behavioral issue that needs veterinary treatment or a complete behavior modification program. Seek help from your vet or animal behaviorist if barking is:

  • New, excessive, and combined with other behavioral changes
  • Non-stop and uncontrollable, regardless of environment
  • Paired with destruction, house soiling, or agitation
  • Paired with signs of severe anxiety or phobias
  • Causing health issues like loss of voice from over-barking

You can control excessive barking and restore peace with consistent training techniques, environmental management, enrichment, and professional help as needed. Be patient – modifying barking behaviors takes time and commitment. But the investment will result in a happy, well-adjusted dog and improved quality of life for you both.

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