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DOG / training & behavior

How Do I Get My Dog to Stop Barking?

Teach your pet to be quiet(er) with tips from a PetSmart trainer

It may not always seem this way to you, but when dogs bark, they do it for a reason. The first step to stopping inappropriate barking is to figure out what your dog is trying to tell you, and then react accordingly:

“Notice me!”

Most often, your dog is trying to communicate with you and expects some sort of response. If your dog barks for attention and you respond by petting, feeding, or talking back, the dog will think, “It worked! Barking is good!”

To stop attention-seeking barking, the solution is simple (though putting it into practice takes patience). Give your dog the cold shoulder until the barking stops. Once your pet has settled down, then provide the cuddle or treat you think they’re seeking.

For a while, your pooch may bark even more to get your attention. Eventually though, they’ll figure out that being quiet is a better way to get your attention.

“I’m so excited (and I just can’t fight it)!”

Many dogs bark out of joy or impatience — like when you are just taking forever to put your shoes on before a walk. If your pooch is giving you the “Hurry up and get the leash!” or “Hurry up and feed me!” bark, calmly stop what you’re doing until the noise stops.

“Get out of here!”

Dogs vocalize when they’re worried or frightened. They also think barking is a great way to handle threats. Dog logic goes something like this: I barked at the scary mailman and the mailman left; obviously, my barking has worked!

The best way to keep dogs from barking at people, animals and things that scare them is to take every opportunity to socialize them and desensitize them with to what they perceive as threats.

“You started it!”

When your dog barks and you yell, “Be quiet”— your dog just thinks you’re barking too! In fact, this sometimes escalates the noise they make. Try not to get upset with your dog every time they bark — dogs will be dogs, after all — calmly correct them if the barking is inappropriate or goes on too long.

Debbie McKnight is an accredited PetSmart Trainer.

For information on PetSmart Accredited Training, please visit the PetSmart training page.