Nothing can alter your relationship with those on the other side of the fence faster than a barking dog, so you want to stop your dog from barking at neighbors before it becomes a point of contention. After all, it becomes an annoyance to you, them, and often the whole neighborhood. If your dog is a little too interested in your neighbor’s whereabouts, read on to find out how you can help stop his barking.
Why do dogs bark?
Simply put, barking is a dog’s means of communication. In the same way that you can lean on your fence and talk with your neighbor about the weather or an upcoming weekend, dogs bark to express their emotions or needs. Generally speaking, dogs may bark to express:
- Excitement: You just got home and it’s time to go for a walk or play ball!
- Boredom: They’ve been locked in this yard all day with no toys or entertainment. Could someone please let them out or at least send a squirrel or bird to look at them?
- Territorialism: Most dogs have an innate protective gene. They want to protect what they consider their property, including their yard, their toys, their bed, and you.
- Fear: Loud, scary noises, strangers, dark clouds, etc. can send a dog into a barking frenzy simply out of fear.
- Anxiety: Some dogs don’t like to be left alone, so they bark out of separation anxiety.
- Pain: Dogs that are in pain or uncomfortable may bark to let you know something is wrong. They will usually have other symptoms, including not eating, limping, or not wanting to exercise.
- They need something: Similar to barking to express pain, dogs can also bark when they need something. Food, water, shade, going outside/inside are all reasons why your puppy may alert you by barking.
- Dementia: Our older puppies may start barking due to dementia. They don’t know why or sometimes they bark, or they may become disoriented and not know where they are.
How to stop your dog from barking at neighbors
As with most behavior-correcting training in dogs, it’s best to find out why they bark in the first place. Identifying the cause of their barking can help you remove the stimulus or at least give you something to work with. Don’t expect your dog to stop barking at your neighbors overnight. This will take time and patience.
- Start early: Try not to wait until your dog’s barking has become a huge problem. It’s easier to fix at first, before they get used to it. However, if your dog has already reached a professional level of barking, don’t despair. It can still be fixed, it just might take a little more time and perseverance.
- Supervision, always: If your puppy has a habit of running to the fence to bark at your neighbors as soon as they let him out, make sure he doesn’t go out alone. Always accompany them and do not let them go out unsupervised. This way, you’re there to give them a calm but firm “silence” or redirect them if they go into a barking frenzy.
If your dog is barking at indoor neighbors, you may need to restrict the areas of the house they have access to. For example, you can block your dog’s access to rooms with large windows or those closest to your neighbors’ houses, unless you’re with them, so you can redirect their behavior quickly if they start barking. .
- Desensitization: Take your dog to the yard or room where he is most likely to bark at neighbors and have him sit next to you. Interact with the neighbor or let your dog listen to what he is doing. If he barks, tell him “Silence”. Reward him with treats or affection when he is calm. Make sure he’s quiet for a few seconds before rewarding him so he doesn’t associate a treat with barking. Keep doing this until he can easily walk out into the yard or hear your neighbor’s return without barking. This works best for dogs that are territorial or bark out of fear. It helps them see that the neighbors aren’t scary and aren’t going to try to steal their yard.
- Distraction: Make sure your pup is always busy when the neighbors are out or when they come home. Provide interactive toys, puzzles, or play with them during those high barking times so they can focus on other things.
- Anti-bark collars: Anti-bark collars work by emitting sound, vibration, static shock, or a strong odor when a dog barks. They are meant to deter barking by providing negative reinforcement. Dogs can wear anti-bark collars during the day while you’re away or outdoors whenever they’re more likely to bark.
- Wear Them: You may have heard that a tired dog is a good dog, and most of the time it’s true. If a dog is tired from a long run, swim, or fetch game, he may lack the energy to get up and bark at neighbors. Giving your dog plenty of exercise will not only help reduce barking, but it’s also a staple for a healthy life.
What not to do when your dog barks at neighbors
There are places where dog parents struggle to teach their dog not to bark. It’s important not to do the following, as it can actually increase their likelihood of barking:
- Don’t yell at them: Yelling at a barking dog can actually increase barking. They think you are joining them. Instead, use a calm, even tone and firmly say “Quiet” to get your point across. Reward them when they are quiet for a few seconds.
- Inconsistency: This doesn’t mean you have to stick to the same training method; it just means you need to keep your rewards and expectations consistent. If you want your dog to be silent for 10 seconds before a reward, make sure it’s 10 seconds each time.
- Don’t do too much at once: Keep your workouts short and fun. This means 10-15 minutes two to three times a day. Any longer and you could outlive your dog’s attention span. You can also change your methods throughout the day. For example, do a desensitization in the morning, a distraction during the day, and another desensitization in the evening.
- Don’t wait: again, controlling your dog’s barking from the start is always easier to manage. Also, do not wait to call a professional. Veterinarians or professional trainers can help you if your dog struggles with the concept of silence.
Excessive barking is often annoying for the whole family, but it can also be a major annoyance for your neighbors if your dog constantly barks at them every time they leave the house. Following these tips will help keep your dog from barking at neighbors so you can maintain your friendly relationship with everyone in your neighborhood.