Tips to Stop a Dog From Barking at Noises

By: David Codr

Published Date: March 3, 2022

Stopping Ruby's Barking Problem

For today’s Santa Monica dog training session we helped 2 year-old Dachshund Ruby to stop her from barking at noises.

Anytime you have a dog that barks at noises, it’s important to determine why the dog is barking before you get started.

When I first arrived for the session, I could tell that Ruby was an anxious dog. She barked quite a bit and kept a lot of distance despite the fact that I was not trying to go towards her or interact with her.  It’s quite possible that her barking behavior was due to the fact that her guardian had not had a lot of male visitors come over due to Covid. DOgs often bark to say I dont understand or agree. In Ruby’s case, I think she was saying “I dont want you here.”

I recommended the guardian find some male friends who share physical characteristics with me to come and visit to take Ruby for walks, offer treats and do other things to create a positive association. The more positive associations a dog has with things they are fearful or reactive to, the more comfortable and confident they become.

But the best way to stop a dog from barking at someone they want to leave is different than how you go about stopping a dog from barking at sounds.

Stopping a Dog From Barking at Unknown Noises

While the guardian wanted to work on Ruby’s barking at me, the more pressing issue was her dog’s habit of barking at unknown noises.  We call this being sound sensitive and dogs with this issue are often jittery, anxious and reactive to sudden sights, sounds or movements. Among other things, its a result of cortisol, the stress hormone, in their blood.

Usually when a dog become sound sensitive it’s due to something negative that has happened. Sometime intentionally, but often due to coincidences like a door slamming shut as someone reached out to pet a fearful dog, etc. We spent several minutes discussing a few possibilities but weren’t able to nail anything down with any certainty.

As a Dog Behavior Consultant, my favorite trick to stop dog barking is to use counter conditioning. This is a process where you expose the dog to the trigger, in this case an unknown sound, at a lower level of intensity. Low enough that the dog is not reactive to it. It takes a little bit of practice to identify what that level is.

If you have a dog that barks at sounds, you should check out the free positive dog training video below.

Although Ruby didnt cooperate and bark for us when we shot the video, I was able to go over the tips to stop barking anyway. This secret to stopping dog barking works because the dog starts to associate the trigger with something positive.

Once you have identified the highest intensity you can initiate the trigger without the dog reacting, The next step is to play the sound or motion that immediately followed up with a reinforcement like a treat or some petting.

After practicing at that level a few times without the dog reacting, you can gradually increase the speed, volume or proximity to the trigger. This needs to be done very progressively and out the dog’s pace. If you do it right, you will gradually work up to the normal intensity level of the stimulus and the dog does not bark.

We also covered a number of dog behavior tips that may help stop a dog barking problem. In some cases, people unintentionaly do things that cause a dog to feel like they need to be protective of them or feel insecure at certain times. Providing the dog with the appropriate amount of exercise, enrichment, rewarding desired behaviors and building up a dogs confidence are elements that are often overlooked but are very important.

To help the guardian remember all the positive dog training tips we 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