You really don’t want to be that neighbor, do you? The one with the noisy dog that turns neighbors into “frenemies”?
If your dog is harassing your neighbors and barking constantly, it’s probably for a “good” reason: She has one job — to protect her territory. Your dog is not barking because she hates your neighbor — that’s not the reason! Dogs tend to bark more when they are at home for this reason; they’re protecting you, your home, your family, and your property.
And, to be honest, this isn’t always a bad thing. Dogs can hear noises that we can’t. Some of us have dogs for that very reason — not only do we want a companion, but we also want a protector.
However, when your dog is barking nonstop or aggressively at your neighbors and you want him to stop, you can train him. Any time you teach something new to a dog, remember that training takes time, patience, and consistency.
Be Consistent When Training Your Dog
When we talk about the importance of consistency with dog training, we mean two things: Be consistent with correcting bad behaviors, every time, and make sure everyone in your house understands “the rules.”
Consistency with commands: Your dog may be the smartest pet you know, but his mind is very simple, and he’s looking to you to tell him what to do and what not to do. If he barks at neighbors and you correct his behavior one time, while ignoring it the next time, he’s learned nothing. You’ve confused him.
Consistency with people: You might notice that your dog tends to behave better with certain family members than others. Dog training is as much about people training as it is about teaching dogs new tricks. Everyone who lives in your home has to be involved in correcting bad behaviors and rewarding good behaviors using the same tools and commands. For example, your dog doesn’t know that “quiet” and “hush” mean the same thing; everyone should know the same command words.
How to Stop Your Dog Barking at People
Out of sight, out of mind: To reduce your dog’s barking at people, remove what triggers him, especially when you aren’t home. Close windows, curtains and blinds when you aren’t home so your dog can’t see or hear your neighbors.
You might even consider leaving on a radio or playing white noise or a fan to help block outside noises.
You can also sequester your dog in a part of your house that is further from noises that trigger it to bark. For example, if you have a two-story house and you crate your dog, consider moving the crate to an upper floor toward the back of your house, which might be further from street noises.
If there are certain times of day when your dog barks, try to figure out what triggers her. Does she bark more when kids are coming home from school? Or does she go crazy barking in the evening, like after dinner when your neighbors are in their yards and walking the neighborhood? Recognize these patterns and plan distractions for your dog during these times.
Train Your Dog Not to Bark at Neighbors, Using ‘Quiet’ Command
Teach your dog to stop barking when you say a command word or phrase such as “Quiet.” We don’t recommend the word “stop,” because if you use that word too much — stop scratching, stop begging, stop chewing, stop jumping — it confuses the dog. “Quiet” means stop barking.
The quiet command works well when used with an ultrasonic sound training device. These training devices are designed specifically to control dogs’ barking. The device isn’t harmful to your dog, and it’s easy to use.
Again, it’s important that everyone in your household understands how to use an ultrasonic training device with the quiet command. You might consider getting more than one device, so each person has their own and you can keep them in different parts of your home, so they’re handy when you need them.
Show Your Dog Alternate Behaviors
The following technique requires more time, but if you are patient and stick with it, it can work.
In addition to teaching your dog the quiet command and using the ultrasonic training device, teach your dog to associate playtime or treat time when you see neighbors.
This is how it works: When the two of you see or hear your neighbors, give your dog a treat or invite her to play. Even if she barks, give her the treat or continue to play. Do this every time you see and hear your neighbors. Eventually, she will look to you for rewards when she sees the neighbors, because she will know this is a trigger for something great.
One last piece of advice in this section: You may have heard the saying, “A tired pup is a good pup.” Make sure your dog gets exercise and he’ll be less wound up when he’s at home.
Communicate With Your Neighbors About Your Dog
Let your neighbors know that you’re working with your dog to stop the annoying barking and ask for their support. Tell your neighbors if there is anything they need to know about your dog — if she isn’t good with children, is aggressive toward other dogs, or doesn’t like to be touched on the head, for example.
Take your dogs on walks and introduce him to neighbors. Reward your dog when she exhibits good behaviors (with a treat or praise or a scratch behind the ears), and redirect her when she barks. By redirect, we mean this literally. When your dog barks at your neighbors, turn her around and head her away from the neighbors. When she doesn’t bark at neighbors, praise her and let her know she’s been a good dog.
What Not to Do When Your Dog Barks at Neighbors
Don’t argue with your neighbors about your dog. Empathize and acknowledge that you’ve heard their complaint. Let them know what you’re going to do and ask them to be patient.
Don’t admit guilt. Tell your neighbor that you’re sorry they’re bothered by the sound of a barking dog and ask them if they have suggestions. That lets them know you understand their frustration and you want to be a good neighbor.
Don’t yell at your dog when he barks. When you yell at a barking dog, you confuse him. He might think you’re just as alarmed as he is.
Don’t give up. We said this at the start of this article, and we’ll end with a reminder: Dog training takes time, patience and consistency. Some dog breeds are easier to train than others, and some dogs within breeds are easier than others. The BarxBuddy ultrasonic training tool makes dog training easier. Learn more about how it works.