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How to Train a Dog to Stop Barking

Dog laying in the grass near two children.

Dogs bark because it is a natural form of communication in the canine world. A barking dog could be trying to establish territory, warning a potential threat not to come closer, or just letting other dogs know where they are. Having a dog bark at strangers when they approach your home or when they sense or hear something strange is helpful when you want that extra "alarm system" at your house, however excessive barking can become a problem, especially when there are neighbors living nearby who may find the barking to be less helpful and more annoying.

There are several training techniques you can use to stop unwanted barking and train a dog to bark only when the time is right.

Understand Why Your Dog Barks

It is important to examine the possible reasons why your dog is barking. First, is the dog hungry or thirsty? Is there something else you think the dog may be trying to communicate to you that you need to know? Is the dog in distress or in pain? Most would agree that these are valid reasons for your dog to bark.

If you believe your dog is barking because it is bored or needs more exercise, provide more dog toys, take your dog on more walks, or play with your dog more often. Sometimes these simple things can stop barking problems in dogs.

Saying "no" or using another such forceful command to get your dog to stop barking will probably not work because your dog will see this as you barking, too. Be gentle in your commands, and designate a word, such as "silent", to communicate to your dog that the command specifically pertains to the barking behavior. Use rewards, such as dog treats or dog snacks, to reinforce the behavior of the dog stopping its barking when you use this command.

Bark Collars and Other Bark Control Methods

Consider a bark control collar or sensor to reduce excessive dog barking. Bark control tools help reinforce communication with your dog by sensing your dog's barking and administering a safe, but annoying, shock correction, letting them know when barking is appropriate and when it is not. Bark control tools are available at your local Tractor Supply Co. store and help dogs learn to associate unnecessary barking with a negative experience: the shock of the bark collar. When used consistently, bark control collars can effectively stop the barking behavior.

There are several types of bark control options available:

  • E-collars
  • Spray and Static Correction Bark Collars
  • Ultrasonic Bark Control

Electric Bark Control Collars

E-collars, or electric bark control collars for dogs, deter excessive barking and have a built-in safety shut-off. This way, if your dog is barking for a significant reason, like home intruders or those who trespass, the collar will cease shocking after a certain amount of time has gone by.

Most bark control collars come in the form of a small electronic box that is attached to a dog collar. The collar has sensors that touch the dog's neck when worn and that detect the dog's vocal cord vibrations when the dog barks. At the moment the sensor detects vibrations, it delivers a correction, or small electric shock, to the dog. Some bark collars come with a microphone and speaker to ensure only your dog's bark triggers the correction. Other types of vibration from a dog's vocal chords, such as sneezing, "talking" or quiet murmurs do not need correction.

Pet lovers have reported great success with using bark collars to control dog barking within the first week of use. When accompanied by consistent training, bark collars provide an effective method for reducing excessive dog barking.

Spray and Static Correction Bark Collars

Many dogs enjoy wading around in muddy water, swimming, or hanging their heads out of a moving car window until the skin on their faces flap in the wind; however, strangely enough, most dogs do not like getting sprayed in the face by a small squirt of water or blown by a small puff of air. Spray correction bark collars work in this way. When the unwanted barking behavior is detected, a short burst of spray is emitted in front of the dog's face, startling the dog and breaking the barking pattern. Similarly, static correction collars issue a mild electric pulse that feels like the static "shock" a human might feel when touching a metal doorknob after shuffling across a carpet.

Ultrasonic Bark Control

Another form of bark control is indoor or outdoor ultrasonic bark correction devices. These are free-standing devices you can place in your home, garage or yard that detects barking and emits a high-pitched frequency that is annoying to dogs but inaudible by humans. Your dog will associate the negative experience of hearing the sound with the barking behavior, reducing the amount of unnecessary barking within about a week.

Some dog owners report that their dogs get used to the sound of the ultra sonic bark controller and begin tuning it out and barking again. If you believe this has happened to your dog, simply turn the ultra sonic bark controller off for a few days, and then turn it back on to re-train the dog.

Ultrasonic bark controls are best if used in a house with fewer dogs. If you have more than one dog, consider using a bark control method that can only be experienced by the dog that is barking, such as spray, static, or electric bark control collars. You don't want a quiet dog having to suffer by listening to the annoying ultrasonic sound because another dog is barking.

How to Choose the Right Bark Correction Method for Your Dog

Here are some tips for using a bark correction collar for your dog:

  • Choose a bark collar based on the size of your dog and its temperament. If your dog is small and easily corrected, consider a spray or static collar. If your dog is a large breed or has a tendency to "think independently", consider an electric bark collar for a stronger correction.
  • Remove the collar from your dog for at least several hours of the day to keep your dog comfortable and prevent chaffing.
  • Consider a collar with a built-in safety feature that allows the corrections to stop after a certain amount of time.
  • Regularly replace batteries in your bark collar.
  • Check the fit of the bark collar every day to make sure it is not too tight on your dog or causing discomfort or injury to your pet.
  • If using a spray collar, refill water often.