Stop your dog’s excessive barking

Stop your dog from barking

Training your dog to stop his excessive barking is a tough task; but fear not, it’s not impossible!

Keep these tips in mind when training your dog

  • Don’t yell at your dog to be quiet–it sounds more like this to him, “Bark! Bark! Bark! Let’s do this together! Bark Bark Bark!!!”
  • Keep your training sessions short and upbeat.
  • Be consistent so you don’t confuse your dog. Make sure everyone in your family is on board.

If your dog is barking at passersby

If he barks at people or animals passing by the living room window, manage his behavior by closing the curtains or putting your dog in another room. If he barks at passersby when he’s in the yard, bring him into the house to manage the situation. Never leave your dog outside unsupervised all day or night.

If you can’t be there to supervise, give him something to keep him occupied like a KONG filled with frozen food.

Attention-seeking barking

Giving your dog attention (negative or otherwise) rewards his behavior and won’t be a permanent fix. Ignore him as long as it takes for him to quiet down. The second he seems quiet and calm, reward him with affection or a treat.

Important! You have to be consistent with this method. Don’t ignore and treat one day and the next yell at him because you’re on the phone. You must keep ignoring the behavior each and every time. It’s hard, but worth it!

Fear-based barking

If your dog is barking at a balloon, a stranger or another dog that he finds unsettling, desensitizing him and counter conditioning him to that object can be helpful.

Start with the stimulus (the thing that makes him bark) at a distance. It must be far enough away that he doesn’t bark when he sees it. Feed him lots of good treats. Move the stimulus a little closer (perhaps as little as a few inches or a few feet to start) and feed treats. If the stimulus moves out of sight, stop giving your dog treats.

You want your dog to learn that the appearance of the stimulus leads to good things (treats!).

Example: barking at other dogs:

Dogs that are afraid of other dogs will often bark at them.

  • Have a friend with a dog stand out of sight far enough away that you know your dog won’t bark at the other dog.
  • As the friend and dog come into view, start feeding your dog lots of very yummy treats (tiny bits of cooked chicken usually work well). Keep feeding treats until the friend and dog are out of sight.
  • Stop feeding treats as soon as the friend and dog disappear from view.
  • Ask your friend and her dog to gradually walk closer.
  • Don’t try to progress too quickly; it may take days or weeks before your dog can pay attention to you and the treats without barking at the other dog.
  • Contact a professional trainer or behaviorist for assistance if you need help.

Train your dog to respond to the ‘quiet’ command

  • Give your dog the command to “speak.” Have someone immediately make a noise—such as knocking on the door—that is sure to make your dog bark.
  • Let him bark two or three times, then stick a tasty treat in front of his nose.
  • When he stops barking to sniff the treat, praise him and give him the treat. Repeat until he starts barking as soon as you say “speak.”

Once your dog can reliably bark on command, teach the “quiet” command.

  • Start in a calm environment with no distractions.
  • Tell him to “speak.” When he starts barking, say “quiet” and stick a treat in front of his nose.
  • Praise him for being quiet and give him the treat.
Example: Intruder at the door

When the doorbell rings, your dog alerts you to the presence of an “intruder” by barking wildly. Once you’ve taught your dog the “quiet” command in a calm environment, practice in increasingly distracting situations until your dog can immediately stop barking when asked to, even when that “intruder” arrives at the door.

Teach an alternative behavior

When your dog starts barking, ask him to do something that’s incompatible with barking.

Example: intruder at the door

Train your dog to react to the doorbell by going to his special place (his bed or perhaps a mat near the door) and lying quietly while the “intruder” comes into the house.

  • Start by tossing a treat on his mat and telling him to “go to your place.”
  • Have him go to his place before you give him the treat.
  • When he’s reliably going to his mat to earn a treat, up the ante by opening the door while he’s on his mat. If he gets up, close the door immediately.
  • Repeat until he stays on his mat while the door opens.
  • Then increase the difficulty by having someone ring the doorbell while your dog is on his mat. Reward him if he stays in place.

Other suggestions

Stimulate your dog! Make sure your dog is getting sufficient physical and mental exercise every day. A tired dog is a good dog and one who is less likely to bark from boredom or frustration. Depending on his breed, age, and health, your dog may require several long walks as well as a good game of chasing the ball and playing with some interactive toys.


Do you have another method that works for you? Share with us! Send us an email or post it on our Facebook page. If you need a dog trainer in Austin, ask us for a referral or see if we can help.


Training tips and information provided by Humane Society of the United States

View more training tips from Gusto Dogs

About Kristen West

Kristen started Gusto Dogs in Austin after running a pet sitting and walking business for two years in Sydney, Australia. After discovering that the dogs benefited much more from incorporating enrichment into their daily walks, Kristen decided to make it a part of every Gusto dog walk with the aim to provide a more fulfilling experience for Austin's dogs and their owners.