View Full Version : How to stop barking?

18th June 2008, 05:53 AM
Molly, my 2 y.o. enjoys barking at me whenever she sees me. When we get up in the morning, she barks at me. WHen she's waiting to be fed, she barks at me. When she's waiting to go out, she barks at me.When I walk into the room, she barks at me. When we go to daycare, she barks like crazy. SHe seems to bark at me when she's very excited (which is a good deal of the time) She does NOT bark at my husband. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to stop or curtail this behavior? I have tried clapping my hands loudly while saying "QUIET" sternly. That seemed to be effective for a few weeks, but now she ignores that. Her barking is getting more frequent and lasting longer. HELP - the neighbors can hear her!

18th June 2008, 11:48 AM
What happens when she barks at you? Do you go ahead and fuss over her at the day care centre and greet her happily? Do you take her out when she barks at you as you get ready to take her out? Do you go ahead and feed her when she's barking at you? When she randomly barks at you, do you respond -- either positively or negatively (eg by clapping and telling her no...).

That's your problem! :lol: Look at it from her angle: you are consistently *rewarding* this behaviour and so the message she gets is -- bark and get what you want, get a walk, get food, get attention. As with kids, even negative attention -- saying 'no' -- is *attention*, and we all know how kids will misbehave for the sake of the attention they get. Punishment is not an effective deterrent for training a dog.

Now at the same time -- barklng is the way dogs communicate. She is happy and wants you to know it. So this is normal behaviour, not a 'problem' behaviour. However you want to shape the normal behaviour to something you find acceptable. Shape = train = time from you to work with her.

To train her to stop barking involves giving her some idea of what the *desired* behaviour is -- just saying 'no' or startling her by clapping -- a momentary distraction that soon stops working -- doesn't work. She needs to know what the alternative is that you want her to do.

So first question is: have you done any obedience classes with her yet? If not, that is number one on your agenda -- find a positive methods, rewards based class -- NO choke chains, NO leash jerks, punishment, etc. she needs to be able to immediately do things that are OK -- know how to look at you when you ask her to look, to sit and sit stay, to relax, to go into a downstay -- ie she needs to know SOME aspects of self control and self management. Once you have some of these down cold, you have alternative *desired* behaviours to ask of her. Not just 'no', which leaves her thinking, 'no WHAT?', but "ok, sit down and look at me' -- a much better way of getting her attention and focus.

The next thing is: you need to stop rewarding the unwanted behaviour. So if she starts barking when you prepare her food, immediately stop, set it down, and go do something else in the kitchen. As soon as she is quiet, start getting her food again. She barks, stop. I would also expect her to be in a sitstay, waiting for her food. She gets up, the meal prep ends. Your timing must be very good -- she need to understand that the second she barks or gets up, prep ends. The minute she behaves as you'd like, it starts. EG the reward now comes for the DESIRED behaviour. You totally IGNORE her when she offers unwanted behaviour. This is far more of a deterrent to her than shouting, scolding, clapping, saying no. She wants your attention and interaction with you more than anything else. So don;t even look at her, do not talk to her, just turn away and do other things. You can mark unwanted behaviour with a phrase, such as 'too bad!'. You say it once, and then ignore.

It may take you ages to feed her. She may not get fed at all that day. Believe me, she will catch on very quickly. Same for a walk. She barks, everything gets put away and you go do something else. You should be able to out her into a sitstay while you get her lead and get ready to go out. She should be able to focus on you quietly and go to the door.

None of these things are difficult. But they all require time from you, and training, because right now, you haven't shown her any of the things you do want her to do -- instead, you are actually doing just the opposite. You have things you don't want her to do but you reward that behaviour anyway, making her think you DO want her to be doing what she is doing (that is he obvious conclusion for her! :) ). It can help to think what you would do if this were a child instead. If a child screams at you to get his lunch, what would you do? Rush to give him his lunch? Of course not! :) Shouts at you to play with him? You'd ignore such behaviour, or give a time out (you can do the latter with a barking dog too -- just quietly place the dog in a room for 5-10 minutes til quiet, then let her out when she has stopped barking for more than a minute).

There's great advice here on training:


Some of those articles should help you -- starting with the one on impulse control. I'd get her into an obedience class, and the trainer there should also be able to give you many techniques for managing the barking. Training should always be ongoing -- even if she has done one class before, it sounds like you and she would get a lot out of doing one again. :)

18th June 2008, 12:24 PM
Also this is a fantastic article for EVERYONE with a dog!


And read this on barking:


You are dealing mostly with 'request barking'. :thmbsup:

19th June 2008, 01:27 AM
Well...you're right. I didn't think I was rewarding her - if she barks at me when I come into the room, I wait for her to stop barking before I pay attention to her. However, when she barks as I'm making her food...I DO keeping making it, and she DOES get fed. If she barks as we're going for a walk - I DON'T put the leash away and we still go for a walk. I never thought of it as "rewarding" her, but that's EXACTLY what it is.

We've never been to obedience training either, and I think that's a great suggestion!

While Molly is barking her head off at me, my 2 y.o. Madeline is having "asthma attacks". She gets so excited that she starts gasping for breath and sounds like she's choking.

My husband is jealous. He says he's the one who is home with them all day, feeding them, petting them, hanging out with them, and when he walks into the room, they give him a look and walk away.

But, I must say - I have a VERY well behaved child!

20th June 2008, 03:31 AM
You have my sympathy about the barking. I live in a thoroughly overlooked house and at least one of the houses next to me has a mini-kennel thing going. Well, there's several runs, but I've never seen more that a couple of staffies, although I sometimes think I hear puppies. So there is some reason for Amber to bark... between dogs and people, it's always busy, and she's usually quiet in the house. Since she only really barks outside, I've started dealing with it by monitoring their yard time and closing the back door when they do go out. I find that locking them out makes them anxious to get back in again, so there's less barking! Not that this helps you any. I did try the ignoring trick (being deaf, this is extremely easy for me!) and distractions with limited success. Although 'sweeties' usually brings her running, and thus stops the barking... but it may seem I'm rewarding her for barking when I'm actually rewarding her for coming! Agh.