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September 7

How to train a puppy not to bark

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Home / Dog Training / How to train a puppy not to bark

Updated: September 7, 2021

How to Train a Puppy Not to Bark


When you bring a puppy home over for the first time, you find all its mannerisms to be adorable. However, with time, you realize that there are certain behaviors, which you find irritable.

One of them is constant or unnecessary barking, annoying you and everyone else in your household and neighborhood.


If you are looking for a guide on how to train a puppy not to bark, you’ve come to the right place. Today, you will learn how to get your puppy to stop barking through effective techniques.

Make sure you practice them frequently for the training to be effective.


Why do puppies bark?


There are multiple reasons why puppies bark actually, and all puppy barks actually could mean different things.



Exploring the world around them


A ton of puppies bark because they're new at life - anything that is new, unknown and exciting to them? They will bark.

This is just their way of exploring the brand new world they're living in.



Territorial Barking


Puppies also bark to protect their territory when other people and dogs are around their area, and is seen as a defense mechanism. Dog breeds that were reared as protector species, such as the Great Pyrenees dogs often exhibit this trait (source)

For such breeds, if you ever wonder how long can a dog bark without stopping? 

Short answer - they can go on forever. Until the 'threat' has passed, anyway.


Also, do puppies get tired of barking?

The answer is no. They never do.



Alarm system


Barking is also an alarm system a dog uses to warn you of possible dangers (similarly to the above protecting their own territory) and any weird sounds that they might not recognize at first.


They want your attention


Your puppy could also be barking at you because it wants:

Your attention and love
It's hungry and wants food
It's just bored, and knows that barking at you (or barking in general) will get you running towards them
Your puppy just doesn't like being left alone
They could be feeling discomfort or feeling sick from eating something


As such, the best way to know why your puppy is barking is to observe it for a while.

Look at the surroundings to see if there is anything that is making your canine behave in this way.


Breed specific behavior


There are quite a few breeds that were bred specifically for barking. Let's take the Beagle breed for example.

In the past, they were bred to bark and bray, as they were often the companions of hunters, and they were often the ones that found prey and called their masters to it.

Today, most beagles are just family companions, but the genetic trait of them barking is not something that you can ignore entirely.


Of course, the easiest way to not have a puppy that barks a lot is to NOT get a breed that is genetically more likely to bark.

That said, just note that when selecting puppies to be with you forever, there are certain breeds that WILL bark, regardless of how much training they go through.


P.S. This does not mean that you want your puppy to always be quiet - they should only be trained NOT to bark in situations you deem as unnecessary (i.e. barking at the TV, or at people you know coming over to visit, etc)



When do puppies start barking?


Most puppies will start making puppy vocalizations (not really barks yet) at around two to three weeks old, around the same time their eyes and ears open.

As they grow to around seven or eight weeks, they'll start developing their signature cute little barks. 

That is also the time that you should start training them - any earlier any they won't understand what you're trying to train them on, since they can't even bark prior to seven or eight weeks old.



How to train a puppy not to bark?


Remember, there are multiple reasons which contribute to why your puppy is barking. You can’t use only one technique and expect it to stop this behavior completely.

Plus, not every technique will work on every puppy - if you know your puppy is food motivated, then going via the toy route will be far less effective.

The best option is to use different methods, depending on the situation.



Train yourself


This might sound a bit silly, but it's very important that, first and foremost, we train OURSELVES to react to our puppy barking in the RIGHT manner.

Some puppies are incredibly intelligent - they KNOW that once they start barking, we will drop everything and run to their attention to see what the issue is, or to just coddle them.

In this way, they train US to do what they want.


Sure it's cute, but this also unfortunately encourages bad behavior from puppies at an early age.


The key here is for us to recognize our puppy barks - is the puppy barking at nothing, or is our puppy hurt or wary of someone new walking around in our house?

You can only do that via repeatedly listening to their barks -  the little nuances and sounds they make with the different barks they make.

Don't worry - you'll learn quite fast. In our 10,000+ years of living with dogs, we humans can actually distinguish what their barks mean with a bit of practice (source)


Another tip is that we need to stay calm when our dogs bark a lot.


Dogs and puppies are very tuned into how humans are feeling. So if you're feeling stressed out over your puppy barking, this may stress them out too, causing them to bark even more.



Remove bark stimulation 


Dogs can be quite reactive to certain situations, especially to loud sounds or the unknown.

When this is the case, they're usually barking because they're scared of it, or a protective of either its territory, or of you.

Removing the stimulus can immediately stop your puppy from barking.


Block its view

 

How to get your puppy to stop barking because a person or animal is in its view? In this case, you should try to change this, so that your dog doesn’t find anything that compels it to exhibit this behavior.


For example, your puppy sees a squirrel outside the window. It starts to bark at this animal, which you may not mind initially. However, if you let this behavior continue, it will start to annoy you.


One of the best techniques when it comes to how to train a puppy not to bark is to block its view. During day time, you can try closing the blinds.

If you don’t want to do this, then get your puppy to go to another room.


Block their hearing


Sometimes, certain events (like fireworks going off) can severely frighten your puppy (and even adult dogs), causing them to bark uncontrollably.

When this happens, bring them to the quietest room in your home.

You can even buy a white noise generator during such events and play it when your dog is in the room to keep it calm and lessen the intensity of the fireworks going off.

Some owners have gone even further to soundproof some parts of their room to bring their dogs to to calm them down.


Quiet zones


Another way to help remove or reduce any external stimulus your puppy receives is to create a 'quiet zone' - an area in your home where it's safe for your puppy, with no stimulus.

All you need would be a crate with a towel draped over it. Your puppy should immediately quiet down and stop barking once it's in this space.



Desensitize them to the stimuli


If you can't remove the stimulus entirely, sometimes you might need to just desensitize your puppy to the stimuli.

In this way, you can gradually get them accustomed to whatever is around them, reducing their reactivity and barking as well.

The downside to this method is that you might need to enlist the help of your neighbors or friends for this.


You can do it in this way:


1. Start off with the stimulus at a distance. The stimulus must be far away enough that your puppy doesn't bark when they see it in the distance.


The stimulus can be anything - a neighbor walking by, a neighbor's dog moving around, etc. 


2. Move the stimulus a bit closer (a few inches or feet, depending on the stimulus)


If your puppy does not bark, reward with high value treats, since it's a new behavior that is highly desired

If your puppy still barks, ignore the bad behavior (see below) and reset the training from step 1.


Repeat a few times as necessary.



Ignore their bad behavior



According to the Humane Society, one of the best things to do when your dog is barking is to give them no attention.

Basically, turn away from your puppy completely - cut off all communication when they're barking.

This means no eye contact, to talking, touching them etc.

 



Reward good behavior


Of course, if your puppy does not bark at things, you want to reward them!

This method also works great - your pup will then slowly associate that unnecessary barking (especially at a stimulus) is bad.

Then, when they DON'T bark at the stimulus - they get head pats, treats etc.


What you want to do is to reward your puppy the moment they stop barking.


Let's walk through this hypothetical: Your dog is barking at something that it doesn't need to be.


1. Sit with your puppy as it barks.


The moment they stop barking, even if only for a minute or so, reward your puppy with a treat (be sure to keep the treats hidden!)


2. As soon as they start barking and stops again, you give another treat.


Soon, they'll realize that their silence = treats.


3. From there, you can slowly increase the time in which they keep quiet to get a treat.


From a minute, perhaps to two, or even three. 

This will cause your dog to want to remain quiet for longer periods of time, eventually causing them to stop barking at the stimulus altogether!


Always reward your puppy when it is silent.



Keep your puppy tired and well exercised


Some puppies bark a ton because they have a lot of pent up energy in their bodies with no way to release - so they direct it into their voice.

A very simple way to reduce puppy barking is to just exercise them - take them on walks or a run!

The AKC suggests that exercise is a great way to help keep your dog calm as well (source), so why not just bring them out? 


Increase the intensity of exercise

 

If you realize that even after exercising your puppy, they're STILL barking a lot, you might also need to increase the intensity of the exercise.

This is especially the case with working breeds like Border Collies, Beagles and the like - they are an endless source of energy that takes a lot of time to burn.


For example, if you go for a half an hour walk with your puppy, try to increase it to 45 minutes.

You can also incorporate other exercises along with this activity, such as fetching and/or bringing them along with you on your regular jogging paths!


Higher intensity exercise is excellent for your puppy as well because it stimulates your puppy physically and mentally.

After you tire out your furry friend, it will no longer have the energy to bark.


Ask dog for incompatible behavior


Some dogs, barking is basically part of their genetic makeup (as seen in some 'barking' breeds) and no amount of exercise will help stop their barking as much.

For such breeds, you can also get these puppies to do something for you that is 'incompatible' with barking.

For example, giving them a chew toy when you know that a stimulus even will happen (i.e. neighbor visiting, or the postman delivering mail to you).


You can use the following steps to train your puppy:


1. Toss a treat or chew toy on their bed and tell them to "go to your bed."


When they're reliably going to their bed to earn a treat, up the difficulty of the task  by opening the door while they're on their bed.

If they get up, close the door immediately.


2. Repeat until they stay in bed while the door opens.


Then increase the difficulty by having someone ring the doorbell while your dog is in bed. Reward them if they stay in place.


This technique can be used even if there's no one visiting you - this is merely a way to get your puppy to not react and bark the moment someone is at the door.

Don't forget to also reward your puppy with treats for learning a good behavior that you want them to!



Distract it with toys

 

You can distract your puppy with toys, which will take its attention away from the issue.


For instance, when you notice that your puppy is barking out of boredom, you should engage with it immediately.


One way is to give the canine its favorite toy, as your furry friend will focus on this object. As you keep it occupied with this item, it won’t exhibit this behavior.


After your puppy calms down, give it a small treat. This type of positive reinforcement will help your puppy learn the right habits.


Additional Puppy Bark Training Tips


Use puppy-appropriate teaching techniques


Remember that your puppy is still just a baby, and it only know what you teach it.

So, avoid harsh discipline if you can. 

Praise and kindness, and any kind of positive reinforcement will help your puppy grow up well to love and trust you, as well as listen to your commands!

Too much scolding and negative reinforcement can break the bonds you share, and cause your dog to not be well-behaved in the future.


Remember to also keep trainings fun and positive - your puppy will respond to your trainings and corrections much more too!


Be consistent with your puppy training


When training your puppy not to bark, consistency is key.

If you have family living with you, make sure everyone uses and does the same sort of training on your puppy - if you agree on using treats as positive reinforcement, only use that.

In this way, your puppy won't be confused as to why its getting different rewards for doing the same behavior

Everyone in your home must also agree to discourage a puppy's bad behavior - this means that no one can 'ignore' the problem. This will cause mixed reactions with your puppy, decreasing the overall training's effectiveness.


Don't let your emotions get in the way


Remember, dogs can pick up on our negative emotions like stress and anger very, very easily.

So if you're not in a good head space for the day, you might want to avoid training your puppy, so that your puppy won't pick up on this and receive mixed messages about whether the behavior is good or not.

This will also let you be less worked up in case your puppy doesn't do what you want it to do.


FAQs


When do puppies start barking?


They start barking around the seven to eight week mark.


Do puppies get tired of barking?


Nope. They never will. You can train them to bark a lot less, though!


My dog barks at nothing. Is this normal?


Perhaps. It depends - sometimes your puppy barking at 'nothing' could be an indication that it wants your attention!


Do puppies bark?


Yes. All the time. Every time.

But that's because it's in their nature to bark - they're young babies learning about themselves, and the world around them!


Recommended Tools and training


You can find our review for best dog beds for puppies here - there are 7 beds listed, and they perform well in different circumstances. 

You can find our review for the best pee pads for puppies here - there are 6 pads listed, and have a wide range of functions, features and budgets for your choosing.

You can find our review for the best potty training spray for puppies here - there are 4 types listed, and have different purposes (better indoors vs outdoors) and budgets for your choosing.

You can find our review for the best dog treats for training puppies here - There are 6 types listed, each with different purposes and according to the type of puppy you have (if they're chewers, etc. _

You can find our review for the best training toys for puppies here - There are 5 types listed, with about 2 per category that have different functions (interactive, tugs, fetch etc.)

Crate training


How to stop puppy from barking in crate? Well, you should make it associate the crate with positivity. Think of making this place as its happy space, where the puppy can relax and calm down.


Make sure the crate is extremely comfortable by placing its favorite blanket along with its toys.

If possible, cover three sides of the crate, to ensure your puppy treats this place as its go-to home.


After your canine becomes comfortable with this place, the next step is to give it treats. You can also give your furry friend its meals in this space.

While your canine is eating, leave it alone for a short duration.


As it becomes familiar with the crate, you can increase how long you leave it here. Make it a gradual process, to prevent overwhelming your furry friend.

Over time, you will be able to leave it overnight in this space, without any issues. Follow these tips for how to stop puppy from barking in crate.


Conclusion


With the right training and rewards, you can train your puppy not to bark. However, remember not to go overboard with this process, as barking is a natural way of communication.

Always judge the situation, before you stop this behavior.


about the author

Frank Harrigan

Frank loves tacos and dogs - the good, bad and ugly sides of dog ownership.


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