From having a loving companion to even improving our health, there are so many wonderful reasons to have a dog. But it still has a “ruff” side, particularly if your dog struggles with barking.
Sometimes it’s the sight of that other dog that lives next door that sets off your dog, or maybe your dog barks excessively while you’re gone. Whatever the reason, living in an apartment complex with neighbors on all sides while having a dog that barks excessively can cause issues with other tenants or landlords. How can you stop a dog barking in an apartment and keep irritated neighbors from complaining?
Why do dogs bark?
If you’re dealing with irritated neighbors who are annoyed at your dog and its excessive barking, the good news is there are a few steps you can take to quiet down the barking. But first, you need to understand why dogs bark, why your dog started barking and general barking behavior to prevent it in the future.
For dogs, barking is a form of vocal communication. It’s also a normal type of dog behavior that’s to be expected from time to time. While some dogs may struggle with compulsive barking, in other cases a dog’s barking can be triggered by specific things. Dogs bark for any number of reasons, like the following.
Some dogs struggle with separation anxiety, just like people, which can lead to anxious barking when they’re home alone. If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, this can lead to a barking problem if they’re left alone.
Dogs are playful creatures. When they get bored or feel ignored, they can bark excessively to try and alert someone that they want attention. This can also be known as frustration-induced barking or demand barking because they’re feeling neglected and want something from you.
Some dogs may also be bored if the apartment is too small for them. That’s why some breeds aren’t suitable for apartment living.
Do you hate having noisy neighbors? Your dog probably hates it, too. If your neighbors make a lot of loud noise during the day, this can startle your dog. A barking episode could also be set off by other barking dogs in the building and your dog begins barking in response.
Someone knocking on the door
If you have a visitor or a package delivered throughout the day and someone rings the doorbell, this can startle your dog to start barking.
Not all dogs do this, but some dogs start barking when they make eye contact with strangers as a way to assert their dominance.
Alarm or being territorial
Dogs are protective creatures. When they feel like their home is in danger, it’s your dog’s motivation to protect it. They’ll naturally bark to show people or other dogs that it’s their territory. This is also known as alarm barking or territorial barking. This is one of the many perks of having a dog, but it can pose a problem when neighbors don’t want their home protected by its barking.
Do you have an attention-seeking dog who likes to steal the show? Well, when you leave, your dog still wants to be center stage and can bark to try and get that attention back. A dog can also start attention-seeking barking when you have guests like friends or family members over.
Dogs are our furry friends who like being social, so when they’re lonely, they can bark to signify they want to be around people again.
Of course, there’s also the best kind of dog barks and those are barks of excitement. This could be greeting barking when you come in the door, accompanied by a wagging tail, or just general glee. For most dog owners, walking in the door and having your dog bark at you to welcome you home is a wonderful feeling, but they should still stop barking pretty quickly or when prompted by you.
These are just some of the reasons dogs bark excessively. By figuring out what’s triggering your dog to bark, you can help try and calm him or her down when you’re gone.
How to get the dog to stop barking: helpful tips and tricks
Because dogs, like humans, have unique personalities, there isn’t one right way to get your dog to be quiet. This can be frustrating, but take comfort in knowing that there are multiple ways to calm your pup down while you’re gone and reduce your dog’s excessive barking habit. Here are a few tips for how to get your dog to stop barking.
1. Block the view that the dog barks at
Most dogs don’t bark simply to make noise (although some breeds actually do). Barking or barking excessively can be set off when a dog sees a perceived threat. This could be seeing other animals outside, other dogs, people walking past or even just a squirrel on the tree outside your living room window. For that reason, many dog owners address their dog’s barking by simply cutting off the sights and sounds from the outside world.
When you’re getting ready to head out for the day, consider closing your curtains or drawing your blinds. This blocks out and draws your dog’s focus away from the visual stimulus that’s exciting them and causing your dog’s barking. If your dog stands on furniture to look out the window, consider rearranging the room.
2. Control the noise
If your dog can hear the strange noises outside causing them to bark, try turning on your television, radio or a white-noise machine. This reduces your dog’s ability to hear disruptive sounds.
Do you have a smart home assistant like Alexa or Google Home? Try putting on a music station for your dogs when you leave home. There are even TV stations for dogs, so you could turn on a show for your dog when you leave.
But don’t turn things up too loud, because this could agitate your pup or your neighbors. The combination of constant noise and inability to see outside usually makes pets feel as if someone is with them, which helps matters considerably.
3. Give them some exercise
A tired dog is a quiet dog. Another reason many dogs bark while at home is that they’re simply bored or restless. Grab their leash and give your dog some exercise before you hit the road. This could be anything from a morning walk or run to get some energy out or a trip to the dog park to play with other dogs. By tiring them out before leaving them alone, your dog is more likely to laze around quietly while you’re gone.
If you’re unable to give your dog a walk throughout the day, pet parents can consider downloading the app Wag or Rover. These services allow pet owners to schedule a walk for their dog anytime throughout the day. A “Wag walker” will come to your home, leash up your pup, take him for a 30-minute or 60-minute walk and then take them home. This can be a great way to keep your dog entertained throughout the day so you don’t have to run home on your lunch break. Plus, it will help keep your dog quiet.
4. Provide entertainment
Another way to address doggie boredom is to provide your dog with some sort of entertainment (read: toys and treats) to keep him occupied. Create a DIY treat for your dog by buying a tennis ball and cutting a two-inch slice along the side. Push several small treats into the ball through the slice and give it to Fido before you leave. He’ll be consumed with getting the treats out of the ball for hours.
You can also buy a couple of Kong toys from the store, fill them with peanut butter and put them in the freezer. Kongs are specifically made to keep dogs entertained, so your dog will be occupied for a long time trying to get every last drop of frozen peanut butter out of the toy.
Warning: Don’t leave your furry friend anything that he could potentially choke on, like rawhides or bones that splinter.
5. Use positive reinforcement
When you’re home, make sure you’re providing your pup with positive reinforcement to teach your dog not to bark. When your dog stops barking or shows restraint during a moment of temptation, reward them with attention or high-value treats. This should eventually result in better behavior even when you aren’t around.
6. Don’t respond
If your dog barks at you to get attention or treats, another method of positive enforcement is by not responding. Once your dog stops barking and quiets down, reward the behavior. Show them that excessive barking won’t get them what they want.
If your dog has a barking problem, you may need to try out some training techniques to enforce good, alternative behavior and teach your dog not to bark.
If your dog needs to be left alone a lot, crate training could be an option. But if your pet gets anxious when they’re confined, steer away from a crate and consider investing in a foldable Ex-Pen. Don’t be fooled by the name: Ex-Pens fold up into small squares, are very portable and easily stored in small spaces.
If you want an expert opinion, you can also seek help from a certified professional dog trainer for a training session or two. Trainers will be able to teach you several other tools you need to know to stop your dog barking permanently.
8. Visit your vet or a veterinary behaviorist
If your dog’s unwanted behavior is becoming a real issue, you may want to pay a visit to your vet. You can discuss the problem with a professional who knows your dog well and can help determine why your dog is barking in the first place.
In some cases, this may require specialized training, whereas in others your vet may recommend some medication. Never medicate your pet without a veterinarian’s guidance. The dosages given to pets are not the same as people. As well as you might know your dog, you should always consult with a vet before administering any medication yourself.
You can also take them to a certified applied animal behaviorist. By observing and looking into your dog’s behavior, these specialists can help you determine why your dog is barking and what steps you can take to stop it.
9. Hire a pet sitter
If you have it in your budget, hiring a pet sitter to come once during the day might be the perfect solution. It will give your pup a needed potty break, time to get their mid-day energy out and something to look forward to before you get home.
10. Use anti-stress devices or special collars
If your dog gets easily stressed, there are many products on the market that can help:
- Anxiety jackets or wraps can be very helpful for anxious dogs that bark a lot. They’re typically made from soft, breathable fabric that provides a gentle maintained pressure that gives a calming effect on the dog.
- Stress-relieving collars produce a pheromone that mimics the pheromones that mother dogs produce to calm their puppies. They’re typically inexpensive and easy to find.
- Spray collars are a great alternative to shock collars as they’re fairly harmless and effective. Most spray collars work by spraying a lemon-scented mist in the dog’s face when it barks. Since dogs don’t enjoy the smell of citrus, it distracts and discourages them from barking again.
11. Reassure your neighbors
Your dog likely won’t break their barking habit overnight. In the meantime, you should try to smooth things over with your neighbors and landlord. Address your neighbors’ concerns personally, apologize and tell them you’re working on fixing the problem. You can even introduce them (and their dogs) to your dog and, if you want, see if any of them would be interested in making a few bucks by walking him while you’re gone at work.
This extra bit of attention and exercise would likely go a long way toward keeping them from barking while you’re out of the house.
Learn how to stop a dog from barking
A dog may be man’s best friend, but that doesn’t mean that having a dog is without its challenges. It’s especially difficult if you live in an apartment complex and have a barking dog that causes issues with your landlord or neighbors. But with this list of great ideas, you’ll be better equipped with ideas on how to get your dog to stop barking.