PUPPIES

How to Get A Puppy to Stop Barking

Barking Lab puppy
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Taking a new puppy home with you can be one of the most challenging phases of owning a new dog and one of the most difficult tasks is to get the puppy to stop barking. Puppies can be a little hard to “break in” as they still have to adapt to their new home and surroundings and also adapt to being separated from their mother. It is important to keep these things in mind as it can help you train your puppy faster and will also help you avoid any untoward actions against your dog.

Remember that they are still babies and just like humans, they also need proper nurture and care to meet their needs.

Puppy with separation anxiety

This can be a lot easier to do if you already have experience in bringing home a new pet dog but if you are a new pet parent, you need to understand that love and patience is the key to raising your dog.  You won’t solve the problem if you get angry or give your dog corporal punishment in order to teach him how to behave. Dogs are natural barkers; otherwise, they wouldn’t be dogs. This particular trait has its advantages and it also has its disadvantages which is why you have to teach your dog how to use it early on.

Why do puppies bark?

There are several reasons why dogs or puppies bark and in order for you to learn how to train a puppy not to bark, you need to understand these reasons first. A lot of people, especially those who do not pay much attention to dogs, cannot distinguish the differences between a dog’s bark when they are happy, anxious, angry, or scared. But, if you can pay a lot more attention to how your puppy is actually barking, you will know that they have different types of barks for different situations.

Dog bark infographic

This means that dogs bark for various reasons and knowing how to address those reasons will make it easier for you to handle their barking.

  • Separation anxiety. One of the major reasons why puppies in general tend to bark a lot or loudly is when they feel lonely or sad because they are separated from their mothers and siblings. They have spent a lot of their time sleeping with them and facing the first few nights alone or with a stranger may not be that comfortable to them. Puppies tend to bark and even howl at night when you have first brought them home. Don’t worry as this is normal. Your puppy will eventually learn that you are his or her new family now as time goes on. To learn how to deal with this condition, you should definitely read up on separation anxiety in dogs.
    Since most puppies will bark at night, one of the other reasons that they could be doing this is if you have not provided them with a comfortable sleeping area. If a puppy cannot sleep well, then you will definitely not get a good sleep as well due to his barking. Since they are still quite young and have softer bodies, they need more comfortable beddings and sufficient warmth. Make sure that they are as warm as how they felt when they were sleeping with their mom.
  • When they are hungry or need to go potty. Puppies can also bark incessantly when they feel hungry or when they are feeling the “call of nature.” Younger dogs have smaller stomachs and so, they tend to eat smaller portions of food and go hungry faster.
    The first few days with your puppy can be quite of a struggle in terms of feeding them as they have to be fed from four to six times daily depending on their breed. When puppies get hungry, of course they will whine for food just like human babies do. Also, do not put them on their crates right after eating as they will have to relieve themselves a few minutes afterwards.
  • If they get startled or scared. During the first week, you will have to put your puppy in an area in your house that is safe and quiet and where they will not likely get startled. Puppies tend to be startled with things easily because they are quite “new” to them. Things such as passing cars, falling items, shouting kids, slamming of doors, and other loud noises can add to their separation anxiety and trigger them to bark loudly. These things being yet “foreign” to them can also cause them to become fearful if not handled properly. You can help to curb this by taking our advice in this article on potty training your puppy.
  • When they are bored. A puppy can be very loud and noisy if they can’t find other outlets all of their stored up energy. There are some pet owners who, either out of ignorance or negligence, tend to leave their puppy locked up in their pen or crate all day which is definitely not healthy for your puppy. Not only will the puppy feel isolated and anxious, all that stored up energy will power them up to bark for hours. Puppies need a lot of energy to help their bodies grow which is aided by sufficient exercise and other physical activities.
  • When they want to play. We all know how playful puppies can be especially when we have just got home. They will try to get your attention either by jumping up on you or by barking at you. You will notice that the bark is indeed playful since it is accompanied by a wagging tail and a different tone compared to when they are barking at strangers. This is generally not a problem except when it becomes repetitive and over-the-top.
  • Being territorial and defensive. Once your puppy had gotten used to being in their new home, the next thing that they would do would be to become territorial. Since they now mark your house as theirs, they will tend to become defensive whenever someone enters your premises. This could either be a friend, a worker such as a mail man, or another dog.
    It is normal for dogs to defend their territory against animals or humans that they do not know and perceive as a threat. It would be important not to punish your dog for doing so since it is actually one of their best traits when trained well.

How do you stop it?

Now that you know the reasons why puppies bark, it would be easier for you to apply the proper remedy for these situations. Remember that dogs bark for different reasons so it would not be wise to use one strategy in addressing them all.

Take the time to understand why your dog is barking and then apply the correct approach of silencing them.

Puppy barking wanting attention

This will not only let you solve the problem correctly, it will also foster a healthy relationship between you and your pet and make them trust in you as their “pack leader.” Take note that pets can also pick up their owner’s fear and anxiety which can feed their desire to bark more.

  • Provide companionship. If your puppies are barking during the first few nights after you take them home, it would be a good idea to let them sleep inside your bedroom in their crates. Puppies will tend to have separation anxiety during these times and the way to comfort them would be to take them in the same room with you where they can see you.
    This way, they will know that they are not alone and will not feel scared or lonely. It would also be good if you can put a piece of fabric or clothing which has your scent in it. This can help calm down your puppy.
  • Provide sufficient warmth and comfortable bedding. It is important to give your puppy some warm and fluffy bedding in order to give them a comfortable sleep. Puppies do not tend to sleep well if their sleeping area is cold or has a hard surface. Since they still do not have a lot of muscle mass to keep them warm throughout the night, it would be best if you can also place a warm water bottle beneath their sleeping beds that can simulate their mother’s warmth.
  • Provide for their natural needs. Food is one of the most important needs of a developing puppy and when they go hungry, they would not feel well and try to communicate their hunger by barking. Giving them a good nutrition will help them not only grow faster but with a healthier disposition as well.
    A healthy pet will be less cranky than an unhealthy one. It would be best if you can give them what they need by feeding them or, if they are already full, to let them out of their crates so they can relieve themselves. Not only will this help you with an easy clean-up, it will also enforce good habits when it comes to potty training.
  • Place them in a safe and quiet area in your house. If you will be putting your puppy in a crate or play pen, make sure that is in a secured and peaceful location. Since your puppy will still be adjusting to their new environment, it would be normal for them to have some level of stress and anxiety. This stress can be doubled if they are placed in a noisy and un-secure area where they can risk falling or having things fall on them. A stressed pet will only be barking more and not less.
  • Provide sufficient mental and physical exercise. A bored puppy can become restless and loud if they cannot find an outlet for any physical and mental activity. With nothing to focus their attention on, they can become obsessed with barking or they can use it as a means to get your attention.
    Remember that dogs need physical activity just like you and without an outlet for their energy they will use it in whatever way they can. So before putting your puppy to bed, make sure that they are tired and sleepy enough. You must at least provide them with two hours of activity each day which includes walking, running, playing catch, and other challenging activities. You can keep your puppy from getting bored by considering a few products from this list of interactive dog toys.
  • Teach your puppy obedience training. Obedience training is a good way to teach your dog when and where to bark. Although we do want our puppy to be happy and excited to see us, we also want them to learn when and where to do it properly. If your puppy is used to jumping around on you when you arrive, they may also tend to do this to your guests which can be quite a problem. Teach them to sit or go to a particular area of your house when you arrive and to come to you when it is time to play with them.
  • Socialize your pet. A dog can become an angry and furious pet if he does not get sufficient socialization when they are young. If they are not accustomed to meeting other people or pets, they may get anxious and defensive every time they meet one and this can lead to a very aggressive dog. It is important to expose your pet to other animals and people when they are young so they learn that they are not a “threat” to them. This will help you avoid any incidences of dog biting.

Bringing home a new puppy can mean sleepless nights and annoying barking during the day but this does not have to be the case.

There are many ways in which you can help prevent your dog from barking and the only thing you need to know is why they are doing it and then address the specific need efficiently.

Sad dog doesn't want to separate

It is important to understand your pet and not go to drastic measures such as punishing or even “debarking” your dog by taking away their natural ability to “speak” by surgery.  There are ways to safely and humanely address your dog’s behavior just like you would to a family member.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

  • Helen

    I have never thought that there are people who may use such methods as psychotropic drugs or debarking surgery to stop their dogs barking. It’s too cruelly and inhumanely.

    I completely agree with the author of this article that first of all it is important to understand the reason of puppy’s barking and then you need to solve the problem. And love, kindness and warmth are the best methods to cope with such a situation.

  • Skinnymanua

    I saw many kids and grown people in park beating or yelling at their puppy trying to stop them barking. In my opinion that is definitely wrong and the worst thing is that they aren’t even trying to find the
    source of the problem. I wish a lot of people read articles like this before buying or adopting them and try to understand the needs of their puppy instead acting in inappropriate way.

    • You should never hit an animal! Under no circumstances this situation can be solved with violence and you just traumatize the dog for life. Instead of respecting you, he/she will fear you which is not at all pleasant.

  • Thank you for sharing your opinion with us, Helen

  • Chynna Lambert

    When my puppy was about 3 months old, he wakes up around 4 am and starts barking before the alarm. At first, I thought he needs to use the toilet, but sometimes he eventually barks even earlier. Then, I’ve decided to make him active and play with him before going to bed. Well, it works. Haha. I love him, but I need to get enough sleep too. :)

    • This is all about the socialization, Chynna. They’re really endearing creatures, but don’t spoil it!

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