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It is completely natural for dogs to bark, and it’s one of their most important forms of communication after energy and body language. Dogs will bark as a warning, to protect their territory. They will also bark to express excitement. These forms of barking are rarely a nuisance and don’t last long.

Inevitably, excessive barking indicates there is a problem. This is your dog’s way of sending you a distress signal, it is his only way to tell you something is wrong. Here are some tips to decrease barking.

  • Exercise! An exercised dog is a tired dog, a tired dog is a relaxed dog and relaxed dogs bark less. Additionally, walks around the neighborhood or park will have the added benefit of socialization for many dogs

  • Socialization! Most dogs are barking at things that startle, scare or excite them. With proper socialization, the things that fall under these categories should be few and far between.

  • Reward quiet. Heavily. Frequently. With great, yummy, sticky/chewy (so they can’t go right back to barking) treats. Also, positive verbal reinforcement for being quiet such as “good QUIET, good boy QUIET”.

  • Do NOT let them practice the behavior. For instance, if they bark at the mailman, do not let them sit looking out the window waiting for him to come. Barking is frequently reinforced by the environment. Change it; control the situation to provide fewer opportunities for them to bark.

  • If they are barking for attention, ignore them. Any yelling, attention, or giving in to the “demands” will be reinforcing the barking. I will warn you on this one. . . the barking may get worse before it gets better. Stick with it.

  • Don’t give your dog what he wants when barking. This sounds like a no-brainer, but if a scared dog is barking at someone who comes to your house and you pick him up or put him in another room, he got what he wanted (distance from the scary stranger). Likewise, if he is so excited to see someone and is barking and jumping, do not let him greet the person just to get him to quiet down. Wait until he is quiet and THEN let him greet.

  • If a dog is prone to outbursts and appears “on edge” and reactive, steps should be taken to reduce the dog’s stress level. Dogs need a couple of days for the stress hormones to return to a normal level after a particularly exciting event. If the dog is reacting on a daily basis with extreme barking and outbursts, he never has the opportunity to truly calm down.

Hopefully these tips will help you (and your neighbors!) have less barking in your life. The solutions are often more simple than people think. A good dog trainer can make all of the difference. It begins with providing you dog with plenty of exercise, socialization and consistent rules. If you would like to talk with me about your dogs barking or other behavioral issues, or dog training alternatives, call/text me at 480-652-4900 or email

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