How Do I Prevent Barking?

Rewarding good behavior can help prevent undesired behavior.
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Although barking is your dog's way of communicating, if it's excessive, it can become a nuisance. Your pet companion can bark for many reasons -- maybe he wants attention, maybe he barks to greet people or animals, or maybe he's frustrated while confined. First, rule out medical conditions that might be triggering his behavior, then find out why your dog is excessively vocal so you can correctly work on preventing his noisy behavior.

Avoid Triggers

If your dog barks at the sight of other animals that he sees from a window, or if the mailman's daily visit is enough reason for him to make noise, preventing his barking can be as easy as avoiding these triggers. Close the curtains to block his view or put him in a different room -- if he can't see whatever is triggering his barking, he'll most likely stay quiet. If he barks at people passing by while he's in the yard, installing a fence that you can't see through or keeping him inside can also prevent his barking.

Ignore Your Dog

Barking for attention will continue if you actually pay attention to your dog when he starts making noise. Even negative attention is rewarding, and if you yell at your dog, he might think you're joining in on the fun. Instead, ignore your pet companion and walk away -- don't look at him, don't touch him and don't talk to him. When he's quiet, reward him lavishly. With consistency, he'll understand that being quiet gets your attention and he'll think twice about breaking out in a barking rant.

Exercise Your Dog

Pent-up energy and boredom are a recipe for disaster that can result in excessive barking and other undesired behaviors. Exercising your dog every day can tire him out so he'd rather take a nap than resort to nuisance behaviors. Take him for long walks, play games with him, such as fetch and tug-or-war, set up play dates with other dog owners, keep him busy with food-stuffed dog toys and practice daily obedience training for mental stimulation.

Quiet Command

By teaching your dog the "quiet" command, you can prevent him from barking excessively. Have a friend ring the doorbell to get your dog to bark. After a few barks, say "quiet" and hold a treat in front of your dog's nose. He can't bark and sniff the treat at the same time. After sniffing the treat and being quiet for two seconds, allow him to eat it while you praise him. Repeat this several times and gradually wait longer before praising and rewarding him. With consistency, he'll start understanding the meaning of the "quiet" command.

Other Solutions

If your pet companion barks excessively when you walk him, put a head halter on him. This allows you to close his mouth by lifting up the leash. Placing a cover over his crate at night or while in the car might also help keep him quiet. Giving him a toy to carry around in his mouth or giving him a command to do something else, such as "sit," might also prevent nuisance barking. If you've unsuccessfully tried everything, consider hiring a certified dog trainer who might use tools, such as an anti-bark collar, to prevent nuisance barking.