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How to Train a Dog Not to Bark

A brown dog barking
Dr. Erica Irish author of How to Train a Dog Not to Bark

Can I train my dog not to bark?

Dogs can communicate in a number of ways. Many dog owners are familiar with their pup’s body language and what certain signs might indicate. For example, a wagging tail usually means your dog is happy, but when his tail is tucked and down, he is nervous or afraid.

No matter what your dog might be feeling, barking is a large component of how he communicates. He could be happy, afraid, inquisitive, or trying to get your attention.

There could be many reasons, but eventually, you could begin to feel that your dog barkstoo much. Why does this happen, and can you help train him to bark less often?

Why is my dog barking so much?

To make training easier, it is best to understand some of the reasons why your dog is barking excessively. Dogs who are protective of their territory may bark as a warning to potential trespassers.

If he feels that his family or his personal space is in danger, your dog may bark a lot or even display some signs of aggressive behavior. Barking can become louder and more frequent the closer the intruder gets, and this could be anything from a small animal outside to the pizza delivery guy or postal service employee.

Excessive barking can be triggered by scary sounds. Loud noises like thunder, a slamming door, or fireworks are feared by many dogs. If your dog is naturally anxious, sudden movements can make him fearful.

New items in the home may not seem scary to you, but your dog may express his anxiety over these foreign objects by sounding the alarm!

Even if there isn’t an obvious trigger or visual cue, anxious dogs can bark a lot, and this is especially true of dogs who experience separation anxiety. Almost as if he is trying to vent his frustrations, a dog with separation anxiety may bark incessantly while his favorite person is away.

Barking can occur in happier times, too. If there is a new person or animal, happy barking results when your dog is wagging his tail, jumping up, or assuming the play-bow position. His barking is a way of greeting this new person or animal, or it may be his way of saying that he wants to initiate play.

If your dog is seeking attention, he may bark at you a few times. This is generally associated with happy or “interested” body language like when your dog has his ears perked up and he is wagging his tail. Barking, in this case, could mean that your dog would like to go for a walk or a trip to the dog park, or maybe he needs to go to the bathroom. Many dogs bark when it is time for a meal or some snacks.

Training a dog not to bark

Favorite treats or snacks can be an important tool for training, especially if your dog is food motivated. Training takes a lot of time, consistency, and patience. This last factor is critical for training your dog to bark less because if you yell at him when he barks, he will think you’re are joining in with the barking and may feel encouraged to continue.

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Instead, you might consider speaking calmly to him. For example, if your dog barks while someone is knocking at the door, you can tell your dog, “Ah, yes, thank you for letting me know someone is there.” Once he is quiet, you can reward him with a treat.

You might also choose to ignore your dog’s barking. By acknowledging his barking, he is receiving a positive response from you, thereby increasing the likelihood that he will engage in the barking behavior again. Once he has quieted down, you can reward him with attention and/or a favorite treat. Reward any silence, even if he quiets down to catch his breath for a few moments.

In cases of anxiety, barking can be reduced by removing the stimulus. For example, if your dog barks at people outside because he sees them out the window, keep the curtains drawn so that he cannot see outdoors. This is especially important while you are away. You can minimize scary sounds outdoors by leaving the television or radio on while you are gone.

Desensitization training can also be helpful, especially if you have a dog who barks at animals and people while you are out walking. You can practice by setting aside designated training time. Have a friend and their dog cooperate by starting out down the street from you, and you will have your own dog with you on the opposite end of the street.

Begin walking towards each other and keep giving your dog treats as you close the distance with your friend. If your dog starts to bark, stop giving treats, and turn around right away. If he is quiet while walking, he is becoming used to the idea that he doesn’t have to bark at your friend or their dog. You should be able to repeat this exercise multiple times, and if your dog is too excited and cannot calm down, you can reschedule the training for another day.

Many of the tenets of basic training for dogs include commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “speak.” However, you should try to teach your dog “quiet” after he has barked for the “speak” command. With repetition and a good reward system, you will be able to apply the “quiet” command to situations where your dog is barking excessively.

Dogs who have behavior disorders or separation anxiety may need additional help with medications and supplements from your veterinarian. If your dog is too nervous or anxious when barking, he may not be in the right frame of mind to learn how not to bark.

Depending on your dog’s condition, your vet may prescribe an anti-anxiety medication. Calming supplements, probiotics, and treats are often recommended, and dog-appeasing pheromone products can be used in conjunction with all of these items. There is also abundant anecdotal evidence that suggests CBD oil may help keep your dog calm and reduce his levels of stress and anxiety.


Barking is a major form of communication for your dog and can be applied in a variety of situations, but excessive barking can be a problem for your dog and for your nerves!

Understanding why dogs bark is an important component of knowing how to train your dog to curb his barking. With the right training and a lot of patience, you can decrease your dog’s excessive barking and help improve your relationship with your furry best friend.  

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Meet The Author 

Dr. Erica Irish

Erica has worked in the veterinary field since 2006, starting out as a veterinary technician before graduating from the UF College of Veterinary Medicine in 2013. As a general practitioner in an animal hospital, she has many interests and is especially interested in dermatology, cardiology, internal and integrative medicine

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