How to Stop a Dog From Barking When Left Alone

Your dog is your best friend, but sometimes he or she can be very annoying. It is understandable that all dogs bark, but some dogs bark continuously when they are left alone. This can be a very big problem, especially if you have neighbors. After all, there is nothing worse than having a hectic day at work, only to come home to angry neighbors because your dog was barking and yapping the whole day.

Keep in mind that dogs don’t bark for the heck of it. There is always something that triggers this behavior such as intruders, hunger, anxiety, and many more possibilities. You may be eager to find ways to stop your dog from barking when you leave the house, but before you do that, it’s best to understand why he or she is acting that way.


dog ssitting on a chair alone

Why Does Your Dog Bark?

When you know what is making your companion bark all day, you can easily remedy the situation by taking away the problem and stopping unwanted behavior. If you’re curious, here are some reasons why your dog could be barking:


Separation anxiety is a common issue that many dog owners have to deal with in their lives. Some dogs cannot be left alone because they will destroy the house or bark excessively. Whenever you leave the house and your dog is barking like crazy, then that means he or she has some separation anxiety. The best way to stop this would be to get a bark collar that will zap them when they bark.

Related: 10 Ways to Help Your Nervous Dog


Dogs are pack animals like wolves. This is why when they form a close bond with their owners, they always want to do things with us or play with other dogs. Whenever there’s nothing to do, they may just bark excessively for attention. In other words, they don’t want to be left alone with their surroundings and thoughts. In fact, their boredom can quickly turn into destructive behavior, which can destroy your furniture. Usually, energetic breeds such as herding dogs and sled dogs can easily get bored, so it’s best to give them plenty of exercise before you leave them home alone.


Types Of Barking Dogs

The Alpha/Territorial

Alpha/Territorial barkers are typically guarding breed types and/or unneutered males. These barkers have the mentality of protecting their house, yard, and general “air-space” from  intruders like a squirrel, a passing dog, the mailman, or a neighbor. Neutering your dog may help to take its territorial edge off. Proper training can get the dog’s instincts in line if it’s a genetic issue. Blocking your dog’s view of the property lines (stockade rather than chain-link fencing) and keeping him from patrolling the area around the front porch or front door may help with them barking when you are out of the house. Make sure to keep a close eye on this kind of barker- when you are home, don’t let your dog bark at passersby. After all, if you are unable to keep him quiet while you’re present, you can’t expect to when you’re absent.

The Genetically Prone Bark

Pretty much all terriers and most small dogs- especially Poodles, Maltese, and miniature Schnauzers- are in this category. These breed types are genetically programmed to bark at sounds or movement they sense. Once bred to alert the farmer of the rabbit in the cabbage patch now constantly let you know the neighbors are home, the phone is ringing, or that the elevator has arrived. You should train your dog to limit their barking. You should be able to turn your dog’s “on” or “off” through your orders. We know you’re not trying to suppress their personality, it’s just important for them to be appropriate. Designate a place or time where your yappy pup can bark as much as he wants!


The Demanding Barker

When the fun stops, this confident little soul does not want to be left alone! He’ll stay at the door and bark at you to come back and play. Barking set-ups (which we discuss below) and engaging toys will help quiet this mischievous pooch, as will the citronella anti-bark collar.


The Bored Underexercised

Hound, herding, and sporting breed types were selectively bred to work all day. Particularly in the urban environment, there are many pointers, retrievers, collies, setters, and the like that are unfortunately under-exercised. These dogs have to be kept busy, or their boredom will turn into barking (along with other annoying habits). If you have this kind of dog, it needs at least two hours of aerobic, vigorous exercise every day. Before you go to work, you should always leave behind a dog that is panting and exhausted from challenging play. 


The Fearful, Anxious Dog

Toy and miniature breed dogs often fall into this group, as do dogs that have been bounced around from home to home, and shelter rescues. Their histories may include coddling, lack of proper socialization or isolation, or over-protective handling. If your dog has never been out of the backyard, or has always lived in an apartment, it may exhibit anxious behaviors when placed in a new home environment. These types of dogs get severe separation anxiety when left behind, even for short amounts of time. Most of these dogs require proper socialization to the world around them. Obedience work with plenty of positive reinforcement will build confidence and yield a dog that can adapt and cope better. 

How to Stop a Dog Barking


 Dogs running together

According to Cesar Millan, dog breeds such as Border Collies, Huskies, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, and others require a lot of exercise. As we discussed above, these dogs are born to have a lot of energy and they need to run and be mentally stimulated to defuse all of their built up energy. If you don’t give them enough exercise, that energy can be trapped inside and be turned into a destructive force, which includes constant barking. The best way to prevent this would be to jog with your dog for about an hour to tire him out. Once you do that, your canine friend will be tired enough to fall asleep when you leave the house.

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Food and Water

dog eating food

If your dog is hungry, he or she will be barking for hours. It’s best to leave a bowl of water and food out for them if you are going to be out of the house for a long time. That way, your dog will be replenished and will not worry about feeling hungry or dehydrated.

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Comfort Blanket/Security Blanket

a Dog wrapped in blanket feels safe

If your dog is prone to separation anxiety, then a security blanket can be a big help. Sometimes your dog will miss you because he or she is feeling lonely. If you have a blanket that you often use or any clothing that you wear, it’s best to give that to them. Your scent from the blanket or clothing can comfort your dog because it makes them feel like you are there with them.



a dog playing with their cute toys

Chew toys or bones can keep your dog entertained for hours. Sometimes, when a dog is bored, they can destroy your furniture or bark all day. If you give him or her their favorite toys, they may be distracted and won’t realize that you are gone. Some highly recommended toys are Bully Sticks and a Kong. Bully Sticks are extremely hard bones that will take your dog a long time to finish. Kongs are entertaining, rubbery toys. You can stick a treat in there and your dog will be entertained for hours. Your dog will try to get the treat out of the Kong, but it would be difficult to do, which gives him or her a challenge that will keep them distracted for hours. That means no more barking and more strategic play time.



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Remove the Motivation

According to Pavlos experiment, he would ring a bell and then place food in a bowl for his dog. Eventually, he realized that every time he rang the bell, the dog would salivate. This is a major example of classical conditioning, which equates to positive reinforcement. That means your dog feels like every time they bark, they will get a reward. Otherwise, he or she wouldn’t do such a thing. The most important thing is to find out what is motivating him or her to bark and remove it. You don’t want to give your dog the opportunity to keep barking. For example, if he or she barks at people or animals passing by the house, then it’s best to close the curtains or put him or her in another room. If he or she barks at passerby when he’s in the backyard, then bring him or her in the house. The important lesson here is to remove anything that inspires your dog to unnecessarily bark.


Ignore Him

dog sitting on couch

Sometimes, your dog barks to get your attention. That is why it’s best to ignore him or her for as long as it takes them to stop. Keep in mind that your attention only rewards them for their barking. Don’t talk to, pet, or look at your dog because all of that will lead to more barking. When he or she finally stops, reward them with a treat and praise. In order to be successful with this strategy, it will take a lot of patience. One of the most common mistakes that owners make is that they will yell at their dog after an hour of barking. After all, the frustration and annoying yapping can take a toll on you. If you acknowledge their barking, the next time, he or she will keep barking for another hour and a half.

The best type of training for this is to put your dog in a crate or a gated room. Then turn your back and ignore him or her. Once they stop barking, give him or her some love, attention, and treats. Eventually, they will understand that being quiet will only lead to reward and praise. It’s best to start small by giving him or her a treat when he is quiet for just a second, then gradually work up to a longer period of time.


Desensitize Your Dog

a calm dog relaxing in the mountaians

There are some objects that may tend to frighten your dog and make him or her bark excessively. You can get your dog accustomed to whatever is causing them to bark. It’s best to start with a stimulus. It must be far enough that he or she won’t bark when they see it, then feed him or her a treat. After that, move the stimulus closer to them and see if barking arises. If it doesn’t, give them another treat. Afterward, move it closer and closer until your dog starts to bark. Do not reward your dog for barking. Once barking happens, move it back a bit and see what happens. You want your dog to learn that the appearance of a certain stimulus can lead to a good thing, such as rewards and treats.

For example, if the stimulus that is making your dog bark is another dog, then have your friend hold another dog in front of him or her. Every time the dog appears, give your dog a treat. You should stop feeding the treat as soon as your dog starts barking or that your friend's dog disappears. Repeat this process multiple times and your dog will realize that the presence of another dog leads to a reward.

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adult woman playing with small dog

Teach Your Dog to be Quiet

You can teach your dog to bark or be quiet on command. The first thing to do is give your dog the command to speak and wait for him or her to bark a couple of times, then give them a treat. When he or she stops barking to sniff the treat, praise them. Repeat this until they learn that "speak" means to bark. Once your dog can bark on command, then teach him or her to be quiet. In a calm environment, command your dog to speak. When they bark, say "quiet," and stick a treat in front of him or her and praise them for the silence.

For example, when the doorbell rings, your dog will most likely start barking. Once you have taught your dog the quiet command and have practiced it in this situation, tell him or her to be quiet, and reward them if they do so.


Make Your Dog do Something Incompatible

If your dog starts barking, ask him or her to do something incompatible with barking, such as laying down in bed. If your dog listens to you, reward your canine pal with a treat. Once this is mastered, you can then increase the difficulty by having someone ring the doorbell while your dog is on the bed. If your dog stays on their bed, reward him or her. If he or she fails, then you’ll have to do the trick over again. This will take some time, but with enough repetition, your dog will understand that laying on his or her bed will lead to praise and rewards.


The Most Common Mistakes That Owners Make

Excessive barking can be very annoying. A lot of times, owners try to silence the barking by acting violently towards their dogs. That is not the way to train your dog. Hitting your dog is negative reinforcement that can only lead to more destructive behavior, and can reduce the bond and love between you and your canine companion.

Another common mistake that owners make is squirting their dog in the face with a water bottle. Some dogs may see this as an invitation to play and have fun. This means that they will only bark more just to get a “playful” reaction out of you to squirt them. With this in mind, your actions may be the main motivation for their uncontrollable barking behavior.

Luckily, with these tips and strategies, you will be able to prevent yourself from making the same mistakes that other owners have made before. In fact, you will be able to implement the right techniques to train your dog to stop barking when he or she is alone. Your dog will be happier by receiving positive reinforcement, your neighbors will be happy that they won’t hear your dog yapping all day, and you’ll feel at peace knowing your canine pal is being well behaved while out of your sight.



With all this information, you will be able to properly train and prevent your dog from barking all day when you are away from home. It could be tough at first and training your dog will require a lot of patience, but with enough love and understanding, your canine companion will eventually realize that there are more rewards for their silence.

german shepherd running and panting

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