Can You Train a Dog to Stop Barking at House Guests?

Barking is a normal part of canine communication but it’s not always an inviting sound to visitors. Your dog’s verbal expressions can be frustrating and even scary to anyone not used to their barking. To quieten the noise, especially when your dog is around others, we must first understand why dogs bark.

how to stop barking

Why Dogs Bark

Dogs bark during play, defense, to greet and to garner attention. Think of barking as a canine fire alarm that alerts the dog's family to anything unusual. The arrival of friend or foe, a scary scent from visiting wildlife, or someone ringing the doorbell may prompt barks.

Dogs also bark to get their own way. When your dog barks at the mailman each day, the mailman leaves.  In your dog’s mind, this is a reward for barking. Smart dogs remember success and repeat the behavior again and again. That means when a visitor arrives at the door and your dog is suspicious of the stranger, he uses barks to drive away a potential intruder.

When you yell at your dog to stop barking, he may think you're joining the bark-fest and bark even louder. Other times, your dog barks to get attention. Even if a scolding follows, your dog might think, "Mom pays attention to me when I bark." You've rewarded his barking behavior.

You will never eliminate barking because dogs remain determined to warn and protect loved ones. But you can teach your dog barking limits with the Hush command.

How To Stop Your Dog From Barking At People

One way to stop nuisance barking is to train your pooch to "speak" on cue. Barking is a reward to your dog because he LIKES to bark. You'll find it much easier to teach commands like “Hush” when the barking was your idea.

How to train a dog to stop barking

  • Identify a noise, such as the doorbell that reliably prompts a bark.
  • Choose an irresistible treat the dog ONLY gets during training. Pieces of cheese, liverwurst, or even cat treats work well, but keep them small. This isn't to fill up his tummy, only to give him a taste to whet his "no bark" learning appetite.
  • Get an accomplice to stand outside the door and ring the bell on your cue, or play a doorbell sound on your phone. She should listen for you to loudly say, "SPEAK!" and then wait two beats (count "one Mississippi, two Mississippi") and then ring the bell if the dog didn't bark.
  • When the dog does bark, at that very instant (not before, and not after), you say, "YES!" and give Rex one tiny treat. Say "YES!" and give him a treat even if he barks before the doorbell rings.
  • Wait a few seconds, and repeat the exercise. Call loudly, "SPEAK" (so your friend hears through the door and rings the bell). As the doorbell prompts the dog to bark, once again say, "YES!" and reward him with another treat.
  • Keep doing this until all the treats are gone. You'll know your boy "gets it" and begins to know what SPEAK means when he barks on command but before the doorbell rings.

dog not barking

How To Train A Dog To Stop Barking: Teaching the Hush Command

Once your dog knows the SPEAK command, training SHUSH becomes simple.

  • Go through the above steps, saying SPEAK, and when he barks, praise the bark and then say, "SHUSH."
  • As you say SHUSH let him sniff the treat.
  • It's impossible for a dog to sniff, eat, and bark at the same time--so as he sniffs (and shushes) say "YES!" and release the treat so he can gobble it up.
  • Repeat until he understands that SHUSH means quiet, while SPEAK means permission to bark.

Bark Collars and Ultrasonic Bark Control

Another way to train your dog to stop barking excessivelyis to use a bark collar which gives him a harmless yet annoying correction when he barks. In just a couple of days, he will learn to bark less. You can also train a dog to stop barking using indoor and outdoor ultrasonic bark control. These bark deterrents send an ultrasonic tone that all dogs in range will hear, giving you quieter nights and days.

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