How to Get a Dog to Stop Barking
Barking is a very natural dog behavior, and eliminating it altogether is a losing battle. There are a few key skills/exercises you can do to try to manage the barking though. I find the most effective strategy is teaching the “quiet” command.
Teaching the “Quiet” command
When someone comes to the door or passes by your property, allow your dog to bark a couple times and then firmly say “Quiet.” Gently hold her muzzle closed and repeat “Quiet.” Release her, step away, and call her with a hand target. Have her sit and give her a treat. If she stays beside you and remains quiet, continue to give her treats for the next few minutes, until whatever triggered her barking is gone. If she starts right back in with the barking, just repeat the exercise.
If you’d rather not hold her muzzle, or you feel this might cause her too much anxiety, you can instead allow her a few barks and then firmly give the “Quiet” command and offer her a high value treat to quiet her down. After repeating this exercise many times and over the course of a few days, your dog will start to understand what the cue means and you can start increasing the length of time between when you give the verbal cue “quiet” and when she receives the treat.
If after 10-20 attempts you’re not finding success, you can try another strategy. Again, allow your dog to bark a couple times before giving the “quiet” command – and then immediately create a loud noise, a ruckus (I like to use an empty water bottle with some pebbles, or a tin can with pennies in it). The loud noise should startle her and get her to stop barking. Call her to you with a hand target and have her sit and give her a treat. Like in the previous techniques, if she stays beside you and remains quiet you can continue giving her treats until the trigger is gone. If she goes back to barking, repeat the steps above.