Why Dogs Bark - Stop Excessive Barking

Why Dogs Bark

Dogs can't talk to tell you that they're hungry, need to go out, or that there's a stranger outside, so they bark. This is how they communicate. There are different types of barks that serve for a distinct function for what the dog is trying to tell you, and in many cases, you reward your dog for barking. For example, if he has to go out, and he's barking at the door, you reward him by letting him out. The problem starts when the dog is excessively barking for no apparent reason, which is where a 'quiet' que can be important.

Different barks signal different events or actions, which is why it's important that you learn your dog, so that you can determine which bark means what... Then you can start battling excessive barking problems.

Before you can reduce the barking, you have to determine what kind of bark your dog is insisting on.

  1. When and where does the barking occur?

  2. Who or what is the target of the barking?

  3. What triggers the barking?

  4. Why is your dog barking?

Just remember that when training your dog to control his barking, you want to keep patience and consistence.

Types of Barks

  • Alarm

Dogs that bark at every noise or sight regardless of what it is, is alarm barking. A dog barking in alarm, will more than likely have a stiff body position, and will more than likely pounce forward an inch or two with each bark. Dogs who bark in alarm, will bark in any location, not just his territory.

  • Attention-Seeking

Some dogs will bark just to get attention. They may bark at people or other animals for food, toys, petting, or play.

  • Frustration

When a dog can't get to what he wants, you may notice a more frustrated bark. Typically dogs will bark in frustration when they can't get to a playmate, can't get outside, can't get to you, are confined, or restricted in some way.

  • Greeting

Your dog may bark to greet people or other animals. Typically, dogs who bark to greet will also whine, wiggle, wag and will have an overall relaxed stance.

  • Illness or Injury

Some dogs will bark because he may be in pain or discomfort. If your dog is barking more than usual, you may need to have a vet give him the once over to rule out medical conditions before trying to solve a barking problem.

  • Compulsive

Some dogs will just bark like a broken record. In most cases, dogs who just bark compulsively, will also have repetitive actions, like running up and down the fence while barking. This is more of a self-rewarding behavior, and harder to stop.

  • Separation Anxiety

When the main caretaker is gone, or if the dog is left alone, he may bark. Dogs with separation anxiety may not only bark, but pace, destroy things, potty on the floor, and show other signs of depression and stress.

  • Social

In a lot of cases, dogs will bark when other dogs bark. If a dog down the street is barking, your dog may try to bark back at it.

  • Territorial

Dogs are territorial animals, and when they feel that their house, yard, car, people, toys, food, or other pets are being intruded on, they may bark at the intruder approaching his space. This will generally include a stiff body position.

What to Do About Dog Excessive Barking

Training a Dog to Be Quiet

If your dog continues to alarm bark or bark territorially, despite your efforts to block his exposure to sights and sounds that might trigger his barking, try the following techniques:

  • Teach your dog that he needs to be quiet when you say so. Let him bark a few times, and calmly give him the 'Quiet' command that you've chosen. Do not yell or overreact. You can either hold the muzzle until the dog calms, or offer a treat right after you say the command. Just make sure that you don't treat the dog until he's stopped barking. If the dog starts to bark after you've treated him, repeat the process. You want to try to increase the amount of time that the dog is quiet before treating him; first treat immediately, and once he's gotten used to that elongate the silence by a few seconds each time before treating him. If holding the muzzle or using the treats (the more effective means) doesn't work after several attempts, try saying your 'Quiet' command and shaking your keys to startle the dog (do not use this method for overly shy or fearful dogs); in most cases, the dog will stop barking, when he does walk him away, sit, and treat him.
  • If your dog barks when you have company, train your dog to go to his spot and sit there until he calms down. You can use a dog bed, specific chair, or room, but always use the same thing. (I use the bathroom for one dog and a recliner for another. We tell one to go to her chair and the other to go to bathroom, once they've calmed, down they're free to associated with the guests as long as they stay calm.)

  • If the dog barks while on walks, try distracting him with toys or treats when you see another walking coming up.
  • Try using a head halter in situations when you know your dog is likely to bark. This will generally create a calming effect on dogs once they get used to the halter, as it's like mama dog putting pressure on a pup's muzzle when she's reacting to a pup's bad behavior.
  • If the barking is more territorial, try kenneling the dog in the house while you're gone. This will reduce the number of upset neighbors. Territorial and alarm barking can be hard to reduce, as it's self-rewarding and the dog will bark more and more if no one is home to correct the behavior. Putting the dog in the house will help reduce the likelihood of growing a habit and reduce the motivation to bark.
  • Figure out what causes you dog to bark, and try to work around it so that the dog isn't in that situation or so that when in that situation he has a job or another behavior he must complete.

How to Stop a Dog from Barking

  • Attention-Seeking Barking

Although it's nice when your dog barks to let you know he needs to go out, it can get irritating when he barks just because he wants your attention. In order to stop this, you'll want to reward the dog for not barking. Ignore him when he barks, and eventually he'll stop, and when he stops, love on him and pet him. When you know that your dog is barking solely for attention, just turn away from him and look up, make sure that it's crystal clear that he knows you don't want anything to do with him while he's barking. But, again, as soon as he stops, love on him and play with him.

If you know that your dog barks at you to get your attention when you're in the middle of something, like ironing, talking on the phone, or sitting at your desk, give him a treat before you get started so that he's got his mouth occupied while you work. This will teach him that while on the phone, he needs to be quiet.

The 'Quiet' que is also a good thing to train in this case, as well.

  • Compulsive Barking

Repitive barking can be hard to correct because the dog is barking at anything and everything, yet nothing in particular. In this case, you'll want to change something about how you're caring for the dog, whether it be more exercise time, less time on the leash, more time outside, less time outside, etc.

You will definitely want to consider training the 'Quiet' command.

  • Frustration Barking

When dogs get excited or frustrated they may bark. When it comes to frustration, in most cases, if the dog can't get to what he wants, he knows he can bark and bark until you give it to him or let him get to it, and he gets rewarded for excessively barking. Don't reward him.

You will want to try training the 'Quiet' command, or you may have to consult a certified professional dog trainer or behaviorist.

  • Greeting Barking

This is a good one to correct by using the 'spot' training technique, but a little 'Quiet' command doesn't hurt either. Dogs who bark to greet people and other animals, can be quite a distraction, as they're so excited to see new people and animals.

In these cases, keep greetings low key. Teach your dog to sit/stay when guests come in; he'll need to be in the position before he realizes someone is there, as once the dog is excited it will be hard to get him to listen. Keep a toy at the door where guests will enter, so that you can give him the toy when it's time to greet guests; the dog can't bark if there's a toy in his mouth.

Always reward your dog before he has a chance for barking, so that he realizes that he gets praise and reward for being quiet and not barking.

If you yell and scream, you're giving him attention, which is what he wants. By yelling, "STOP IT. CUT IT OUT," you're rewarding your dog by giving him that attention, even if it's bad attention.

  • Socially Facilitated Barking

You can discourage social barking, but putting your dog in the house when other dogs are barking. You can also distract your dog with toys and treats when there is a dog barking in the distance or on the television.

What Not to Do When Re-Training Your Dog

  • Do not encourage your dog to bark.
  • Do not punish your dog for barking, especially if he's barking out of fear or anxiety.
  • Never use a muzzle, Husher, or anti-bark collars.


  • You want to always be consistent and patient when training.

Anti-bark collars

Anti-bark collars are training devices meant to teach dogs not to bark by delivering unpleasant sounds, smells, or shocks, when the dog barks. These collars are ineffective with most dogs, as it is more of a punishment method of training.

If you're going to purchase a dog bark collar, the citronella spray collars are more effective than the shock collars.

But, keep in mind that the dog basically learns not to bark when wearing this collar. When not wearing the collar, the dog thinks it's ok to bark.

These collars are not recommended if you have more than one dog in the house or yard.

Before trying a bark collar, you want to try other methods of training, first. Do not use bark collars with dogs who bark out of fear, anxiety, or compulsion.

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Share Your Tips to Stop Dogs from Barking 5 comments

TheEpicJourney profile image

TheEpicJourney 5 years ago from Fairfield, Ohio

Hey Whitney05! This article is fantastic, there is so much information here! I was wondering if I could put a link to this hub from a hub i'm writing. The info you write here fits in perfectly with a hub I'm writing on apartment dwelling dogs. The particular hub I'm writing touches on barking but not in this much detail! I've not published it yet as I wanted to ask your permission first :)


izettl profile image

izettl 6 years ago from The Great Northwest

I've tried everything with my 7 yr old chihuahua and I recently read that if you don't like excessive barking, then do research on a breed before you get a dog. Some dogs, like chihuahuas are prone to barking at everything. I don't believe there is anything, short of shock collar, to get him to stop. trust me, I've thought about that option. Some times I'd love to get his vocal chords removed. But certain breeds are born to bark just like some born to hunt or herd. Bottom line do research on dog breeds suitable to your preferences.

I wrote a hub about certain traits in dogs that are virtually untrainable or impossle to break and you brought up a good point about barking being self-rewarding. that's hard to break. I can't treat my dog either because he has stomach issues and can only have his certain dog food.


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 6 years ago from USA

Hi Whitney - I am certainly no sort of "dog expert," but when "War Dog" (a little guy) gets to carrying on too much, he gets to understand that the noise he is about to hear is not the kind of noise he likes to hear. Dogs are a lot like people. When they know you are ticked off at them they tend to behave.

Gus :-)))


RNMSN profile image

RNMSN 6 years ago from Tucson, Az

always a pleasure to read your articles whitney!! when I grow uo lol I want a german shepard but right now dog the cat is in control of the house! love to you barbara b


midnightbliss profile image

midnightbliss 6 years ago from Hermosa Beach

our two-year old dog just barks at anything and everything lols. from small insects to some sounds that he can hear around the house.thanks for the information.

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