Are you worried about your puppy’s excessive barking? You’re not alone, but don’t worry you’ve come to the right place.

In this article we’re going to help you 

  • Understand why puppies bark
  • How to reduce barking and teach your puppy not to bark in 5 easy steps
  • Understand why your puppy’s breed may have an impact on whether they bark a lot or not
  • How to teach your puppy to bark and be quiet on cue
yorkshire terrier pulling on lead
Photo by Silvana Carlos on Unsplash

Why do puppies bark?

Why won’t my puppy stop barking? It’s not exactly melodic, is it? Despite what you may think puppies bark for a very good reason… communication! Your puppy is trying to tell you how they feel about a situation and sometimes it’s justified, as much as you might want them to stop, it’s the only voice they have! Here are a few reasons why your puppy just won’t be quiet…


If your puppy is lacking in mental or physical stimulation, then barking becomes something they do for fun. When your pup is bored you may also see other unwanted behaviour alongside barking such as chewing on things they shouldn’t.


If your puppy is worried or frightened, they will likely bark, in puppies this can be something as innocent as a bin lorry going past, or a person coming towards them that they haven’t met before. Watch out for a tucked tail and pinned back ears alongside the barking to indicate fear.


‘I’m so happy I don’t know what to do with myself’ type barking. You’ll see a loose body and waggy tail accompany this kind of barking. 

Communicating with other dogs 

We all love a chat, don’t we? Dogs are no different. It might be ‘Good Morning, how are you?’ or equally ‘Please give me space’, look out for body language cues to see how your puppy is feeling about the situation. 

Alarm and territorial barking 

‘Intruder alert’ Yes, we specifically bred dogs to be inbuilt burglar alarms, no need for a doorbell when you have a puppy who barks at strange noises. There can be some overlap between alarm barking and fear barking, depending on the puppy. Our dogs and puppies just love to save us every day from the ‘threat’ of that postman. 

Attention Seeking 

Well that crescendo certainly gets your attention doesn’t it? It’s pretty hard to ignore a barking puppy, we then repeatedly ask them to be quiet …. they think we’re barking too, and so the cycle begins.

Loneliness/Separation Anxiety

If your puppy only barks excessively when left alone then this could indicate that they have some problems with being on their own. Lucky for you we have an article on Puppy Separation Anxiety here. 

How to teach your puppy to stop barking in 5 easy steps

Teaching your puppy to stop barking, as with any training, will take time and patience, but you’ll get there if you follow these steps.

Step 1 – Ensure all their needs are met

To reduce puppy barking and before we start working directly on the task at hand, we need to make sure that their basic needs are being met. If any of these are lacking that is possibly why you’re seeing (or more likely hearing!) lots of barking. 

Mental Exercise 

Puppies are like sponges, positive training and enrichment is excellent for stretching the grey cells of a growing puppy, think of it as like us doing a cryptic crossword puzzle. With training exercises you’ll also get a better behaved puppy too, everyone wins! Puzzle toys and food dispensers are an easy way of providing mental stimulation, every day! 

Physical exercise 

Puppies have oodles of energy and need to let off some steam, keep them active and give them the right amount of exercise. No need to be running laps around the park just yet but playing games of chase, some games of fetch or tug or a gentle stroll are all important for puppies. 

Puppy not vaccinated yet? No problem, you can still play indoors! 

The right food

Let’s be honest you wouldn’t feel too happy if you ate junk food every single day, so it’s important that your puppy eats a balanced and complete age appropriate food. Don’t forget as they grow you increase that amount so that they aren’t hungry. We have an article on puppy nutrition for you here. 


Yes, puppies will be chewing a lot! If not on things you give them then whatever is lying around, whether you want them to or not..sorry! Our favourite edible chews are:

  • Buffalo or cow ears
  • Vegetable chews
  • Bully Sticks aka Pizzles

To learn more about chewing check out our articles on puppy teething and puppy chewing. 


Dogs are social butterflies, they thrive on companionship. Puppies don’t understand why we can’t be around 24/7 and need to be taught how to be comfortable on their own, but they also don’t deserve to be left alone for hours at a time, or alone downstairs when they’ve just left their Mum and littermates. 


Sleep is hugely important for puppies – many, many unwanted behaviours such as barking, biting and being frantic are caused by them not getting enough sleep. Pups should be sleeping 16-18 hours a day, make sure they have a cosy spot to relax in and aren’t disturbed by people wanting to wake them up to play. If your puppy doesn’t want to sleep then it can be an idea to get them into a good routine of naps. Discover our puppy night time tips so both of you can have a peaceful sleep.

Breed Specific Needs

This will be different depending on the breed of puppy you have, i.e Spaniels need to sniff, while Border Collies prefer herding. 

Our Zigzag puppy training app has a tailored breed specific programme so you can be sure your puppy is getting the right education for their breed type.

Alright, so is the above all sorted? You may find just by doing these things you see a huge decrease in excessive barking as we’re now ticking all their physical and emotional needs boxes. Lovely. 

happy puppy sat in field
Photo by Garrett Karoski on Unsplash

Step 2 – Sensory Exclusion 

Visual Barriers

Puppy barking at things out of the window – birds, delivery people, passers by, seemingly thin air?  A quick and easy fix for this is to simply close your curtains or blinds. If you’re not keen on shutting out the light then there are various snazzy window films you can use on the bottom of tall windows so your puppy can’t see things moving around outside. 

Auditory Buffers

White noise machines and music can soften noises from the outside world so that they don’t startle your puppy. Classical music and talking radio/audio books come top in most studies at relaxing dogs, so they’re worth trying, bonus points if the human enjoys it too! 

Step 3 – Teach your puppy calm relaxation 

Is your pup unable to settle? Teach them by going through our settle exercise so that they learn to relax on a mat or blanket, we go through it step by step in our Zigzag puppy training app.

Step 4 – Teach them to do something else

Alternate behaviours (Or Differential Reinforcement of incompatible behaviour – oof that’s a mouthful) are things your puppy can do that mean they can’t or won’t bark such as

Puppy barking at the doorbell? Instead of the doorbell being a cue to bark it becomes a cue for

  • Going to your bed for a treat
  • Grabbing a toy in your mouth to greet the visitor with 

Puppy Barking at another dog on the street? Instead, the other dog becomes a cue for

  • Sit and be quiet for treats
  • Target my hand for rewards

Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?…Over time teaching these alternate behaviours will desensitise your puppy to the thing they’re barking at, and give them a healthier and quieter focus, what more could you ask for? 

Step 5 – Teach a quiet cue – the positive interrupter

Teaching your puppy to be quiet when asked is a useful skill, hey I don’t mind my dog telling me someone is trying to get in the house, but I do need to let her know ‘I’ve got this’ so she pipes down when asked.

It’s important you use your quiet cue in an informative and calm way. What do we mean by this? Well, it’s tempting to shout ‘shussh’ or ‘quiet’ that our puppy can start to think ‘oh are you barking too, great let’s all bark together’ and then the symphony of ‘bark’ ‘shush’ ‘bark’ ‘shush’ continues….

Instead let’s use a nice neutral word, my preference is ‘thank you’ but many people use ‘quiet’ or whatever quiet may be in your language (yes we have people reading these articles and using our Zigzag puppy training app from all over the world) so maybe ‘stil’ or ‘calmatevi’ or ‘cichy’!

You will need

  • A pot or training pouch filled with soft yummy treats
  • Your puppy in a neutral indoor environment

Turn on the cue

  • Say the cue word ‘quiet’ (or whatever you’ve chosen)
  • Give your puppy a treat
  • Repeat this 10 times – they do not have to ‘do’ anything here, they are just learning the association that ‘quiet’ = treats – yippee!

Do this a couple of times a day for 3 days.

Adding a little difficulty

With your puppy a little distracted (but not barking) say the cue word

Your puppy’s head will likely whip round as they’ve learnt ‘quiet’ = treats, hurrah!

Practice this over several days and you’ll find your puppy will be responding very quickly to this ‘quiet’ cue.

Pro Tip: Don’t skip or try to rush these practice sessions, we want to build a strong foundation of this quiet cue when it’s easy for your puppy.

The first test

Yes, it’s time to test it out with low levels of distraction 

  • When your puppy hears something in the distance use your ‘quiet’ cue and then reward as you’ve done before
  • Did your puppy stop barking and look at you? Good job?
  • Was it too much too soon? That’s ok, go back a step and just keep practicing. 

Practice this cue so it becomes super reliable, and you’ll be able to tell your dog ‘it’s ok I’ve got this’ and ask them to be quiet on cue. Marvelous, peace at last!!

Puppy breeds that bark a lot

Yes, there are certain breeds that tend to bark more than others, in fact some were bred specifically for their bark. Whether it be for protection or to help hunters, neither are ideal in a city apartment or when the kids are finally asleep, are they? 

Is your puppy on our list of dogs bred to bark the most? We’re betting you’re glad you’ve read through our quiet instructions as they’ll come in super handy!

  • Beagles – Assisting hunters with a bay or a howl as they seek out a rabbit or other wild animal is in a Beagle’s DNA, can’t blame them for their genetics but you can teach them when you’d like them to be quiet. 
  • Fox Terriers – another hunting dog whose bark was integral to how well it performed. Quiet dogs just didn’t do as good a job. 
  • Terriers of most persuasions such as West Highland Terriers, Cairn Terriers, Yorkshire Terriers and Jack Russells were all bred to assist with vermin control, and when they get excited, they are noisy!
  • Miniature Schnauzers – it might surprise you to learn that while they may not have terrier blood in their DNA, they act a lot like them, and are excellent watch dogs, so yes they can be just as noisy too!
  • Toy breeds such as the Maltese, Toy poodle, Miniature Pinscher and Affenpinscher will likely have you learning that ‘quiet’ exercise pronto.  
  • Bloodhounds – a nose with a dog attached, but also very vocal, it’s their way of telling us ‘something’.
  • Chihuahuas – Small, sassy and love a good bark. They tend to feel frightened and overwhelmed due to their small size, so go gentle with them and remember how small they are in our enormous world. 
  • Pomeranians – members of the spitz group these dogs were bred to bark and were used as little watch dogs. Don’t be surprised if they bark at the door, or something else which sparks their interest, bark first and ask questions later. 
  • Dobermans – Often hugely noisy, fantastic guard dogs. Let’s face it you’re unlikely to be burgled with one of these protecting your house.  
  • German Shepherds – A natural guard dog they are often ‘all noise’ and boy is it loud.
  • Belgian Malinois – Yes, another guarding shepherd specifically bred for their bark, they do a very impressive ‘speak’ cue too. 
  • Basset Hounds – these big guys may not be the most active, but they make up for it with their extremely loud bark and bay. No one puts a Basset in the corner. 
  • Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes – I’m sure you’ve seen these lovely dogs making quite a racket when they’re excited, they have excellent wolf-like howls! No idea how they can run so fast and still be so noisy.
  • Dachshunds – bred to alert hunters to a badger set these guys – and that goes for the mini, the midi and the standard, are all keen to let us know when something is up. 

How to teach your puppy to bark on command

Want to learn how to teach your puppy to ‘speak’ as well as quiet? Well, we’ll help you but it does come with a warning!!

Dogs who find barking self-reinforcing, that is they enjoy doing it, or they’ve been genetically made to ensure they’re very vocal, can find this exercise something to be practiced a lot, even when you don’t want to hear it.

Seriously now, pay much, much, much attention to not reinforcing the ‘speak’ behaviour when you haven’t asked for it and make sure you’ve really nailed the quiet exercise first. Your ears and neighbours can thank me later.

You will need

  • A pot or training pouch filled with soft yummy treats
  • Your puppy in a neutral indoor environment

Step 1

  • Encourage your puppy to bark – you’ll probably know things that make them bark, like running up and down and getting them excited, playing with a favourite toy, really winding them up.
  • The instant they bark – say ‘yes’ and give them a treat – this marker word lets them know they got it right.
  • Continue playing until they bark again say ‘yes’ and give them the treat’ 
  • Every time they bark, say ‘yes’ and give them the treat – do this 5-10 times.
  • Now wait and just before they go to bark say ‘speak’ and mark the actual bark with a ‘yes’ and then treat them again.
  • Keep practicing this with your ‘speak’ cue several more times then end the session by asking for ‘quiet’ and sprinkling treats on the floor when your puppy is quiet.

Step 2

  • Try again the next day, making them excited and ramping them up a little and then say your cue word ‘speak’. Did your dog speak? Good job, now you can start to practice without ramping them up first. 

Pro Tip: It’s important you end the training session with something the dog likes as otherwise they may continue trying to ‘speak’ again in order to get more treats. If your puppy can’t ‘quiet’ on cue then sprinkle the treats and go back to teaching ‘quiet’ it will be important I promise!

Scattering treats along the floor for your dog to eat or popping them in an enrichment mat will help calm your pup after all of the energy and excitement of such a fun game!

Puppy barking can become excessive and problematic if you let it continue, it’s important to look at the reasons that they bark rather than just trying to stop them, remember it’s their voice they do need it! so make sure you go through our steps, and ensure all their needs are being met.

happy dog looking at camera
Photo by Matt ODell on Unsplash

You can find a tonne of training exercises and games in our Zigzag puppy training app and our team of Puppy Training Experts are on hand to help you if your puppy’s barking is becoming a problem. Why not download it and give it a try?