Is Your Puppy Barking Excessively?

A puppy barking can seem really cute at first, but if you let it get out of hand it can soon become a problem for you, your neighbours and for visitors to your home. Learn what causes your puppy to be vocal and discover 5 easy ways to stop your puppy barking.

Why Is My Puppy Barking?

He's Trying To Tell You Something!

Puppies don't speak, they bark; it's their way of communicating with us. 

For example your puppy may be trying to tell you that he's:

  • frightened, bored, or lonely,
  • cold or hungry,
  • frustrated, anxious or unhappy,
  • heard someone at the door,
  • wanting you to play with him,
  • wanting your attention... for any number of reasons!
Golden cocker spaniel puppy barking at his toy, sitting on a red and black blanketThis duck won't play with me!

So if your puppy is barking, he's probably trying to tell you something. In order to stop this annoying habit, you need to work out why he's doing it in the first place.

Puppy Barking: Remove The Cause

If you understand what's causing your puppy's barking, you then can offer up the correct solution to get him to stop.

For example, if he's hungry, taking him for a walk or giving him a cuddle won't satisfy his hunger. He will just keep on barking because he wants something to eat.

In this instance, feed him, and he'll most likely stop barking.

In most cases, you can stop your puppy barking simply by removing the cause, and it can be done simply and without fuss.

Let me give you a couple more examples:

  • Your puppy may decide to bark because he's bored. 

    Solution: Give him a toy to stimulate him, such as a Kong or something similar. Alternatively, hide a few treats around the house and let him sniff them out. You may need to give him a little help to find them at first, but he'll soon get the hang of it!

  • The kids are teasing him, or they're getting too excited, and he's feeling a bit overwhelmed. It's making him bark. 

    Solution: Tell the children to settle down and stop teasing the puppy!

  • Your puppy is cold and tired. 

    Solution: Warm him up! Give him a cuddle or put him in his warm cosy crate with a blanket and let him settle down and sleep.

You can see that simply removing the cause of the problem will stop the puppy from barking.

Decide When Puppy Barking Is Acceptable

There may be times when you feel it's acceptable for your puppy to bark, for example, when there's a prowler in the garden. Consider what you and your family feel is acceptable and what is not acceptable barking.

Take action now and 'teach' your puppy when he can and can't bark.

Left unchecked, puppy barking can soon become a (bad) habit and habitual barking can be very difficult to break and will only end in tears.


Don't Inadvertently 'Reward' Your Puppy For Barking

Don't fall into the trap of giving in to your puppy's barking all of the time. He may learn that he can easily get what he wants by barking and this will make things much more difficult for you.

The best way to avoid this is to teach your puppy to 'Be Quiet' (see below) and then when he's quiet ask him to give you his paw or to sit down. Then you can 'reward' him with what it was he was asking for in the first place.

This way, your puppy won't associate his barking with his reward.

5 Easy Ways To Stop Your Puppy Barking

There are lots of different methods to stop dogs barking, some rather gruesome, others more acceptable.

1: Teach Him The 'Be Quiet' Command

One of the easiest ways to stop dog barking is to teach your Cocker Spaniel the "Be Quiet" command.

A cute golden cocker spaniel puppy called Alphie, taking a nap on the sofa.Zzzzzzzz

This may sound contradictory, but the aim is to train your dog to bark and then teach him to stop barking!

Ideally, this training should be done early, while your Cocker is still a puppy.

If you've an older dog that needs training, it's still not too late, however you and your pooch may just have to put a little more time and effort into the training!

Stop Your Puppy Barking: Step 1

  • Wait for your dog to bark. You may need to encourage him to bark before you can stop dog barking with this command. I find a knock at the door or a ringing doorbell will usually do the trick!

  • Allow your dog to bark for a couple of times before showing him a tasty treat, one he simply can't resist, and calmly say your command words, something like, "Be Quiet" or "Quiet".

  • I recommend you choose a command that fits well with you and your family and make sure you all stick to the same one. Consistency is the key if you are to successfully stop your dog barking.

  • When your dog catches sight of, or smells the treat it should focus his attention and encourage him to stop barking. If he manages to stay quiet for 5-10 seconds, reward him with the treat and tell him he's a "Good Quiet Boy".

  • If he starts barking before the 10 seconds are up, don't reward him.

  • Try the exercise again in a couple of minutes, but this time reward him for remaining quiet for 5 seconds.  (Wherever possible, don't set your dog up to fail!)

When using this command to stop your puppy barking, it's important that you stay calm and in control:  don't shout and don't get excited or show frustration if things aren't going well.

Practice the above exercise 5 times at each session, and train twice a day for 3 days before moving on to the next step.

Stop Your Puppy Barking: Step 2

At your next and subsequent training sessions, when your dog barks:

  • Show him a treat and use the "Be Quiet" command (as before) however this time when he stops barking, leave it for a few seconds longer before you reward him. Aim for 15 to 20 seconds.

  • Gradually increase the length of time between when his barking stops and giving him his reward.

  • When your dog is responding well to this command, slowly withdraw the food treats (you don't want an overweight puppy!) and heap on the praise, strokes, and cuddles.

The point of this exercise is to help your dog to associate his reward with your command to "Be Quiet" and his subsequent silence. He'll soon learn that there's no mileage in barking and that it's more beneficial if he responds to your "Be Quiet" command.

Be patient, train hard, and it won't be long before your Cocker Spaniel has learned to bark and then be quiet on command.

If your puppy is easily excited and therefore prone to barking, then encouraging excitement will only make any barking problem worse.

Understand what excites him, a particular game, for example, and avoid it for now. You can always re-introduce the game later, when he's older and less excitable.

Stop Puppy Barking: Tips

  • Don't ever let your Cocker Spaniel get away with excessive barking. If you do, you'll be undoing any previous training and will have to work extra hard to get your dog back on track.

Don't forget to give your puppy lots of basic obedience training regularly to help him grow into a well-mannered adult dog!

  • Act quickly and be consistent; don't allow any gratuitous barking.

  • Practice regularly to reinforce the training.

  • Always stay calm; don't shout at your dog to be quiet.

  • Remember to praise him when he's quiet to encourage his good behaviour.

  • Tired dogs rarely bark, so don't forget to keep your dog regularly exercised and mentally stimulated.

Follow these rules and exercises and it won't be long before you can stop dog barking quickly on command!

2: Practice With The Doorbell

If your puppy barking problem is caused mainly by a ringing doorbell, this one will work for you!

Have someone stand at the front door and ask them to ring the doorbell 5 times at about 30 second intervals.

Go and sit with your puppy, have some treats at the ready, and wait for your cue.

As soon as the doorbell rings, offer the small treat to your puppy. He'll probably stop barking because it's impossible to eat and bark at the same time!

When he stops barking, praise him, wait for a couple of seconds and give him another treat.

When the doorbell rings again, offer him another treat and repeat the praise.

If you practice this regularly, eventually you'll de-sensitize your puppy to the sound of the doorbell and he'll begin to look to you in anticipation of a treat or verbal praise.

I don't have a problem with Max barking when the doorbell rings, but I do expect him to stop when he's asked to. I tell him he's a good boy (for alerting me to 'danger' or someone at the door) and then we go and answer it.

It can be so embarrassing and uncomfortable for you and your visitors if Fido barks at them each time they pay a visit. If you'd like to learn how to stop your dog barking when visitors arrive, or you'd like to learn more about acclimatizing your puppy to the doorbell, follow this link!

3: Stop Your Puppy Barking With A 'Muzzle Clamp'

There are many dangers in the wild and before dogs became domesticated it was essential that the mother kept her puppies quiet in times of danger. She would do this by gently, but firmly, holding the puppy's muzzle in her mouth whilst giving off a low, throaty growl.

This wouldn't hurt her pup but would stop him from barking and keep him quiet until the threat of danger had passed.

You can mimic this behaviour by holding your puppy's collar with one hand, (this will keep his head from moving) and clamp your other hand gently around his muzzle. Take care not to block his little nose. You want him to be able to breathe properly.

He may struggle a little at first so it's very important to be extremely gentle with him.

At the same time, in a firm, controlled tone tell your puppy to 'be quiet'.

If you practice this regularly, and you're consistent every time he barks, it won't be too long before you'll be able to drop the muzzle clamping because your puppy will respond to your 'be quiet' command alone.

" stop her puppy barking, the mother would
hold it in her jaws and give a low throaty growl..."

The above may be used on an older dog too, but only if you're confident that he won't try to bite you for clamping his muzzle closed!

Otherwise, for an adult dog, you might like to try one or more of the methods listed in this article on how to stop your dog barking.

4: Stop Your Puppy Barking With A Water Spray

A spray bottle is a cheap and effective way to stop your puppy barking.

An ordinary handheld water spray from any garden centre will do, just fill it up with water and wait for your puppy to bark.

You can also add a little lemon or lime juice, or vinegar which will make it taste bitter and unpleasant.

The squirt of water will 'shock' your puppy into being quiet and the unpleasant taste will help him to associate it with his barking and act as a deterrent.

As soon as he barks give him a quick squirt and tell him to be quiet. Don't spray into his eyes though, just aim for his mouth. That should do the trick.

When he stops barking, wait a few seconds before rewarding him so that he learns that he's being rewarded for being silent, not for barking.

5: Stop Your Puppy Barking With A Correction Collar

A barking correction collar may help to stop your puppy barking excessively.

It's a device that fits onto your pet's collar (sometime they come with a collar already attached) and it's triggered by the dogs barking and it's meant to 'shock' your puppy into being quiet.

There are several different kinds available, for example, there are those that spray a squirt of citronella, sound an audible beep, or worse - give a small electrical shock! (However, I definitely don't recommend the latter, and especially not for a young puppy).

One of the problems with these collars is that they can be triggered by another dog's barking. Now that's not really very fair is it?

Puppy Barking: Summary

It's not always easy to stop a puppy barking, especially if it's allowed to develop into a habit. Nip it in the bud. As soon as your puppy begins to bark, acknowledge it, deal with it and then move on.

By the way, puppies that get lots of play and exercise tend not to bark much because they're relaxed and contented...and usually whacked from all that work!

The key to your puppy learning quickly is for you to be consistent in your actions.

Don't let him get away with barking either to get your attention or to get something he wants, like his favourite toy. (Although you can give him his toy, don't let him have it until after he's stopped barking. Don't let him think he was rewarded with his toy for barking).

Always tell him to stop, wait a few seconds, and then reward him with praise or a treat.

Some dogs are crafty and may learn that if they bark and then stop and wait a while, they'll get a treat! It might be a good idea to vary the rewards: praise, toys, or a bit of rough and rumble.

Photo Credits for Puppy Barking
1. Willeecole at
2. Alan from Leuchers - kind visitor submitted photo