Some Free Tips on How to Stop Dog Barking

By: David Codr

Published Date: July 29, 2022

stop dog barking

For this Santa Monica dog training session we share tips to stop dog barking to help King Charles Alfred learn that sometimes, silence is golden.

Alfred was very excited when I first arrived and jumped up quite a bit. His guardian had told me that she had been keeping him on a leash to prevent this behavior but I asked her to have him off leash when I arrived. Anytime a dog is resisting pressure, and they are emotional, the intensity of trying to break free often increases their emotional state.

A better approach is to teach a dog a replacement behavior such as the guess which hand game or to do some spins horizontally on the floor in order to earn treats. I recommended that the guardians keep treats in the car so that every single time they come through the door, they are practicing the guess which hand or spin game five or six times in a row. After a week or two, Alfred will be ready to offer those behaviors when people come through the ddoor instead of jumping up.

We went over a number of dog fundamentals as I think that Alfred has been a little bit pampered in his early life. There was good reason for this, his guardians learned there was a cyst on his brain that had to require surgery as a puppy. Any lovingguardian would want to comfort and take care of a dog who is going through a medical condition like that. But in Alfred‘s case, I think the guardian has continued some of that a little too long which many have given him a little bit of a confusing message. I think Alfred thinks that he has the same rank and authority as his guardians. He does quite a bit of demand barking as well as jumping up to get whatever he wants. For this reason it will be a good idea for his guardian to ask him to sit, do the hand targeting, spin or some other small task before petting him, eopening the door for a walk, putting down his food, etc. This is a nice way to help develop a healthyleder follower dynamic. You dont have to do it all the time (unless the dog is demanding attention), but its a small ask that can have a big result over time. Especially when you have a dog who does demand barking like Alfred.

After going over how to introduce marker words, hand targeting, the importance of rewarding desired behaviors and how to teach a dog to say please to ask for attention, we were ready to address the primary issue, stopping barking at sounds outside the home.

How to stop dog barking

I had noticed that the guardian was shushing Alfred when he started to bark. While this makes sense to humans, it usually is not successful at stopping dog barking. Essentially this is suppressing the dog’s behavior and reacting to a symptom instead of the root cause.

If you have a dog that barks at things outside the house, you first need to identify why the dog is barking at them in the first place. Is the dog trying to get the thing to move away, get your attention, communicate to other dogs that it’s in his territory, etc.  In Alfred’s case, I think he was barking at sounds to let them know that he was aware of it happening.

I have found that using counterconditioning is a great way to stop dogs from barking. Fortunately Alfred is very treat motivated. I set my camera up and had the guardian go outside to record the sound of a gate latch which is a trigger that often sends Alfred into a barking frenzy.

If you would like some tips on how to stop a dog from barking at sounds outside your home, you should definitely check out the free positive dog training video below.

Because the recording was not super loud, Alfred did not bark when we played the sound of the latch that he normally barks at. Sometimes people think this means they failed, but in reality, you want to help the dog practice being exposed to whatever causes them to bark without them barking. So that is actually a success.

I recommended that the guardian use a amplified speaker so they can start playing the sound at a louder and louder level. You want to go slow and at the dog’s pace but eventually your goal is to play the sound super loud and the dog does not bark when it hears it.

The next step will be to trigger the sound outside by unlatching the gate with Alfred either in the house or nearby. If Alfred barks when they start doing this with the actual latch, they will need to move him further away from it to lower the intensity. This is why I like to use this secret to stop dogs barking I detail in the above video as opposed to the actual trigger. It allows us to have greater control of the intensity and to have better timing.

Once they can play the sound at full volume through the speaker without Alfred barking, that is when they should transition to going outside and practicing with the real thing. In some cases, you may want to do a warm-up inside with the recording and then immediately head outside to practice with the actual sound. We call this a warm-up and it is a trick that many dog behavior consultants use to great success.

The end goal is for the dog to hear the sound without barking and become conditioned to think that that sound now means they are about to get a treat. It takes some time, but I have used this technique to stop dog barking many times. I recommended the guardians make a list of all of the sounds that Alfred barks at so they can use this exercise to stop dog barking for each one of them.

Since some of these sounds are difficult to identify I recommended that they set their phone up outside in a recording settings and then go inside and when they hear Alfred start to bark, yell out a number. This way when they play it back, they can listen to the sound that occurs right before they say number one and identify what that sound trigger is.

It will be important to remember that Alfred has been practicing this barking behavior for over a year. It’s going to take time and practice to help him learn to stop barking. I recommended the guardians practice this counter conditioning exercise to stop dog barking 2 to 5 times a day in short one to three minute practice sessions. The goal is to practice successfully in shorter sessins instead of all at once.

We also went over a trick to help Alfred like geting his medicine with a version fo a CER. He had been moving away from the syringe his guardian used to give the meds. But after only a few reps, he was learning towards and licking it. With some added positive juice (chicken broth), he should be looking forward to the meds in no time.

To help the guardians remember all of the other dog behavior tips I shared in this in-home Santa Monica dog training session, we recorded a roadmap to success video that you can check out below.

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This post was written by: David Codr