How Do You Control Your Dog’s Urge to Bark

When I first heard a local news station promoting a story about how to get your dog to stop barking, my initial reaction was, “barking is what dogs do — get over it.” Then Toby decided to have a barking fit on the train while we were on our way to Manhattan.

I really don’t mind him barking at home, or when someone walks past us when we’re walking, because I want him to be protective. On the train in public, not so much.

But, as this WCBS 2 New York report points out, many times the barking stems from a fear of something, which in the case of our train ride, made complete sense. It was his first time on the train, and he doesn’t particularly like travel carriers. Once he calmed down, the barking stopped.

We haven’t yet mastered the “stop barking on command” thing, and very frankly, I’m not sure we ever will. I usually tell him in a stern voice, “no” or “stop,” but that doesn’t always work. When my Dad watches Toby, and he wants him to stop barking, he looks at him straight in the face and in a calm, monotone voice, goes, “control the urge to bark.” It started out as a joke, but it usually works — which because it’s calming, does kind of make sense if the barking is caused by anxiety.

Other people I know take a more forceful approach and make a loud noise aimed in the dog’s direction or yell at the dog in a very stern voice while also kind of leaning in toward the dog. I think that creates fear, and am not really a fan of that. 

I would love to hear how you control barking with your dog and give us some tips on what works for you and your pup.

8 thoughts on “How Do You Control Your Dog’s Urge to Bark

  1. Well, considering Trixie got her bark collar off last night and Minnie chewed it to pieces, I think being awakened and having to go outside and make her come in will be on my calendar for a few days…

  2. Wow, I just posted, on our blog, Mack's barking. We have not really found a fix. We tried to citronella barking collar and he learned to close his eyes and bark through it until it ran out of juice!

    Good luck,
    Minnie and Mack

  3. Bark Off, several collars and sprays, squirted water, pennies in cans, stern "No" – none of these have worked…if someone finds a "cure" let me know. 🙂 It's not cute at 3 AM, esp. in an apt. building.

  4. Glad to see it's a common issue 🙂 — and an issue that our resident dog trainer, Trainer Dan, is tackling as I type. Look for his column about this subject tomorrow on My Tail Hurts!

  5. Oh wow I was just about to write "sounds like a case for Trainer Dan!" hahaha

    My only thought on this is bringing treats for positive reinforcement. Every few quiet moments, tell your pup "good boy/girl" and give them a treat (piece of kibble, whatever). Soon you probably won't even need treats and could use the voice command. I figure this will work but my dogs aren't super barky (they have their other weird issues though!) so I'm not sure 🙂

  6. Barking and Shelties are synonymous. I don't think one EVER gets a Sheltie to stop barking.

    The only time I am successful is when it is treat time. I give our cat (Cody) a treat first which gets Dakota barking…I say "Nice Boy!" and "You have to be a NICE boy'…I found this method by accident. Works like a charm but only in reference to treats.

    I like your Dad's method "control the urge to bark"…lol. May have to give that one a try!

  7. Our guys are not what I'd call "barking mad" 🙂 Jasmine in particular – she learned that she can have JD do her dirty work for her, she hardly ever barks now 😉

    JD is more enthusiastic, but most of the time at least he has some semblance of a reason. Calling him over and acquiring his attention is sufficient.

  8. Erin is definitely a Barker & not only outside either. She barks in the house just as much. My husband and I can't start a conversation without her putting in her 2 cents.We swear she's jealous of any attention that's not focused on her. Only thing we found that helps and it's not the wisest is giving her treats while we talk & that's only a temporary fix.

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