How to stop your dog from barking – or should you?

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Our approximately one-year-old sweet-natured rescue female, appears to love all, barks at other dogs at our onsite off-leash pet park when she wants them to play. I have used a PetZoom Sonic Pet Trainer. It gets her attention and causes her to stop the behavior for a minute. I’m aware that it affects the other dogs as well and question whether there’s a better way? Thanks for any suggestions. Barbara K.

Terry’s Answer


My first question back is why is your dog barking?  There are many types of barking and some you want to stop, and some you don’t.  Is your dog by chance a herding breed (Collie, Corgi, Australian shepherd)?  Those breeds almost always bark when they are running around – out of pure glee – and to capture the attention of what they are “herding”.  If your dog is play bowing while barking, she’s just saying “come on chase me”.  If her ears are back, and she has a low, growly bark, she’s probably afraid, or feeling anxious.  Once you figure out why she’s barking, you can figure out if you need to stop it.  The cause will equal the cure.

If it’s the silly high pitched “I’m having a great time” bark you can just let it go – she’s having fun.  If it gets to be annoying, you can call her out of play and put her into a down next to you for a little time out.  If you do that enough, she’ll learn that lots of barking equals taken out of play.  You should find her barking less and less.

If it’s the low growly I’m feeling anxious bark, remove her from the park and let her get some face time with other dogs in a less stressful place to bolster her self confidence.  You can take her to pet food stores, have play dates with other friends dogs, walks in a neighborhood with other dogs, or a day or two of doggie daycare.  She just needs to feel more comfortable with other dogs before going into the intimidating dog park.

Some dogs just like the sound of their own voices it seems.  At home, my dogs have play barks, anxious barks, warning barks (someone is walking past the house).  I have worked for a long time to identify each bark and what it means.  Personally, I want the warning bark – but not the whole time the person is walking past and into the next county.  I let them bark a couple of times and let them know that it is “enough.” “Enough” is my word to them that means come away from the window and see what I want.  I started that by saying the word, calling them to me, rewarding them coming, have them lay down and settle by me.  To make this work, you have to be consistent, and if they don’t come right away, you have to go to the window and get them to show what you want – take them to where you were sitting and reward.  With enough practice and good rewards (food, toys, attention) you will have success inside and outside the house.  Just remember that when they bark they are trying to tell us something, we just need to figure out what it is and act accordingly.

Terry Meeks is a dog trainer, APDT Member an CGC Evaluator in Pinellas County, Florida.  Find Four on the Floor Dog Training at and on Facebook.

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