Just like humans use their voices, dogs bark for many different reasons. Some are somewhat useful, like warning an intruder or asking to go out to the toilet. But other reasons like barking for attention can get annoying pretty quickly. 

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to get your dog to stop barking for attention, and even if you need to see a vet for additional support…before you go barking mad yourself.   

Before we get on with how to stop your dog from barking for attention, we have a question to ask you. Have you downloaded the Zigzag Puppy Training App yet? If you haven’t, not to brag, but you won’t regret getting on it. It includes a full training programme tailored to your puppy’s age and breed type where we teach you exactly what to train, when, and how. We even have a team of puppy training experts on hand to help through any hiccups you’re currently facing even if you can’t get your puppy to bark to start with.

black labrador puppy
Photo by Nathaniel Bowman on Unsplash

Why do dogs bark for attention?

First off, let us reiterate that it’s completely natural for dogs to bark. It’s really just annoying for us because of our low patience and weirdly sensitive ears. Usually, dog owners often complain that their dogs bark at other dogs, strangers, noises or just at random things. 

When barking gets excessive, it can become problematic for many people; from you and your sanity, to members of your households, or your neighbours…who will in fact start barking back at you if you don’t get it to stop.

If you want to know more about general barking, take a look at our guide on how to stop a dog barking

Okay, so here we go. Behold as we share our secrets on how to stop a puppy barking for attention and why they might be doing it. 

Let’s keep it honest; barking for attention is probably one of the most annoying forms of barking. It’s often high-pitched, persistent and is perfectly designed to get on your nerves and provoke a reaction. Your dog may be barking for attention for any of the following reasons:

  1. Boredom – A bored dog will look for entertainment, which is often in the form of you.  
  2. Meeting their needs – They may bark to let you know they need the toilet or that they’re hungry…internal dinner clock never fails!
  3. Raising the alarm – This one might actually come in handy sometimes. They might bark to alert of something they see as a threat. 

In the crate – Yep, your dog might bark to express their dissatisfaction of being put in their crate. They will let you know they’re unhappy.

black pug looking at viewer
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

How to stop a dog barking for attention

If you’ve ruled out them needing the loo, it being dinner time or intruders bashing through your house, then it’s fair to say that your dog is barking for your attention.

It’s simply their way of expressing they’re having fun and want to engage with you. In this case, then you want to make sure you’re reaching out to enrichment, trick training and puzzle toys in your pup’s daily life to prevent boredom from kicking in and attention-seeking barking from kicking off. 

But if your pup is already in the habit of barking for attention, you must first know we’re not judging. Happens to the best of us, Secondly, here’s what you can to do stop it: 

Ignore the barking

Yes, we know it’ll be difficult, but giving your puppy any attention is a form of reward for dogs, so you telling them to ‘shush’ isn’t actually helping at all. In fact, it might create a fantastic game of who-can-shout-the-loudest which you definitely don’t want to get into. When ignoring them, your dog may bark longer and harder in order to provoke a reaction, but it’s important to stay calm and patient.

Always reward them and give them attention when they stop barking

Attention-seeking barking often comes in bursts with pauses, so those moments of silence are your golden chance to reward your dog for staying quiet.

Extend pauses in barking by delaying treating them a second at a time

Eventually, your dog will learn that barking gets them nowhere, and quiet gets the attention they are looking for, so this is a great way of making this lesson stick.

Reward what you want to see or hear

Throughout the day, always reward good quiet behaviour so this becomes your dog’s default setting rather than turning to barking.

Provide entertainment and enrichment

Remember that barking is most often driven by boredom. Our dogs’ daily lives can get quite mundane if we’re not careful of providing them with the stimulation they need, so getting them plenty of mental and physical exercise daily will be one of your main ways to prevent problematic barking.

Look for patterns

Are there certain times of day when your dog barks for attention? Is it when you just sit down for the evening? If so, pre-empt it by having a Kong or a puzzle toy ready for them to engage with. You might also think of spending some time grooming your dog in front of the TV, that’s always an option. 

We’ve got plenty more ideas and tips about stopping your dog from barking and training a quiet cue in this article. We’re flooded with good ideas everywhere, see?

whippet puppy
Photo by Chris Arthur-Collins on Unsplash

When do I see a vet about barking for attention?

In most cases, barking is just normal dog behaviour. However, as with any new behaviours that come out of the blue or get worse over time, it could indicate an underlying medical issue. 

We don’t mean to be pessimistic, but it’s always worthwhile consulting your Vet as they will be able to tell you if there is anything that needs further treatment or action. For example, your dog barking for attention may also be related to anxiety (like in the case of separation anxiety) in which case your vet can help with management or treatment of anxiety-related issues. 

Yay! You’ve made it to the end. We hope you’re shedding tears of joy from finally knowing how to stop a dog barking for attention, and knowing that you’ll be enjoying some peace and quiet soon. 

Remember that it’s important to recognise why your dog is barking rather than just trying to get it to stop! It’s the only voice they have, so be sure to listen to your dog and attend to their needs. 

You’ll find loads of help and articles on barking and loads of other topics in the Zigzag Puppy Training App. Our puppy training experts are here 24/7 ready to help with barking or any other issues you may be having with your pup. Listen, just download it and you’ll be thrilled to be far from disappointed.