To bark, or not to bark, that is the question

This is a Frequently Barked Question.

FBQ: How do I stop my Pyrenean Mountain Dog from barking?

Clowie: All dogs bark and there can be lots of different reasons for barking. The most common reasons are anxiety, boredom, excitement, or a perceived threat. Everyone has their own ideas about how much barking is acceptable, but most of us have neighbours and have to control our urge to bark sometimes. As it’s such a big topic, I am going to concentrate on my main reason for barking and how I trained my bipeds to understand me, so that I need to bark less.

Pyrenean Mountain Dogs have a reputation for barking at passing butterflies, or a falling leaf! We take our protection duties very seriously, so there is some truth in what is said – we are always on the lookout for a potential threat. And some of us simply like the sound of our own voices!

I didn’t bark very much at all as a puppy, this is normal for a Great Pyrenees. (I wrote more about this in “The calm before the barking storm“) We tend to start barking when our protective instincts kick in, as we mature. When I did start barking, I found I enjoyed it and would carry on until I was absolutely sure that I had barked the threat away.

Lots of trainers advise teaching a dog to bark on command. This means you can work on asking the dog to stop barking as part of a training session, rather than at unexpected times. This seemed to make sense and so my bipeds tried to get me to bark on command, but they failed. The suggested techniques rely on exciting a dog until it barks. I don’t bark when I’m excited, I make a small, excited noise in my throat and sometimes do a little, bouncy jump – very demure!

My barking was all about what I perceived to be threats to my household. I didn’t find many security threats because I had met everyone that comes to the house – including the postman. I found I enjoyed barking when I did find a reason and it was hard for my bipeds to get my attention. If they spoke to me normally, I didn’t hear them because I was making so much noise. If they raised their voices I thought they were joining in and that made me bark louder!

There were two places that I liked to bark, just inside the front door, peeking through its panes of glass, and outside by the side gate. I enjoyed spending part of my day by the side gate – it was made of wrought iron and I could see what was going on in the road from there. Every time I barked one of my bipeds would come out and attach a lead to my collar and take me indoors, without saying a word – that wasn’t much fun! It didn’t take me long to decide to keep my barking to a minimum when I was outside.

Indoors was another matter. When I heard something to bark at, I would stand where I could see through one of the clear panes of glass in the front door and fill my lungs and bark and bark. Sometimes one of my bipeds would wave a treat near my nose to get my attention and then ask me to sit. It’s hard to bark when you’re sitting with a treat in front of your nose!

Sometimes I was so determined to bark that I wasn’t interested in the treat and I ignored it and carried on barking. Then one of them would touch my head to get my attention and lead me away from the door. I should say I’m extremely relaxed about being touched and this would not be a good idea with all dogs – leaving a line attached to the dog’s collar would be a better idea if the dog is not calm about being touched unexpectedly.

They gradually introduced the command “quiet” to tell me to stop barking. I gradually barked for a shorter time, as I knew they looked to see what I was barking at before they told me “quiet”. Now I usually only give a couple of short woofs and one of them will say, “Thank you, Clowie”.

I only continue to bark if it’s something out of the ordinary and I think they haven’t understood, but as my training of my bipeds progresses I only need to do this very occasionally.

I still have a few FBQs that I haven’t answered yet, but if you have a question for me then please leave it in the comments or on my other social media. I will put your name when I answer it, unless you ask me not to.

See you next Wednesday!

Aqua paw print

Related posts:

I’ve also explained why young Pyrenean Mountain Dogs often don’t bark very much and what to expect when they do begin – “The calm before the barking storm

I am also asked about barking at night and explain how my bipeds reduced it – “Why barking at night can be a good thing

100 thoughts on “To bark, or not to bark, that is the question

  1. Our mom taught her dog how to bark on command by barking at the dog. Not very orthodox we think!

    Last week her boss’s house was broken into while they slept at night. The burglars took phones, a laptop, his wife’s purse, several different gaming systems and their brand new car, Their doberman slept through the entire thing. We bet they wished he had barked!

  2. Great read for people trying to understand their talkative pups! Interestingly enough, I have the opposite problem. I’m trying to teach Eko the “speak” command, but since he never really barks it has been tough going. Maybe I should just count my blessings and leave well enough alone!

    • Thank you! Yes, I think most of the ideas for teaching a dog to “speak” rely on barking out of excitement and not all dogs do bark when excited.

  3. It is said that maremmas will bark at a worm fart. Having said that Me and Nellie do not bark every often, but sometimes We just like to bark because We can. Mummy and daddy are very tolerant of our barking because We live in the countryside and all our neighbours, except for one and she is an ex-doggy owner, have dogs so they are used to dogs barking. Sometimes We like to bark at the wind and leaves falling on the ground or Farmer Rae starting his tractor up three paddocks away. It is so much doggy fun. Love Nellie and Jasper.

    • Maremmas have a lot in common with my breed – it’s very important to protect our family. I think you’re very lucky Maremmas to have so much space.

  4. Clowie thanks for the great information this is a must read post for my owners ! Cordially Yours Oceana

  5. Super advice as always Clowie. You do really know how to train those humans. Sometimes it must be nice to just BARK though 😉

    • Thank you! I felt fully justified in barking very loudly when there was a wild boar sniffing about outside the front door one night fairly recently!

  6. i only bark when i’m super excited and usually its only the once. It always gets people’s attention because its so rare.
    Another dog barked at me once and i didn’t know what to do so i tried to bark back, but it was so unconvincing and insecure that everyone just laughed at me bol

  7. I bark at the birds in the garden, when the door knocks or if I hear a funny noise. I don’t know how to stop sometimes, I think I get too over excited 🙂 Like you I didn’t do it as a puppy.
    Have a funtaztic Wednezday Clowie xx00xx

    Mollie and Alfie

  8. I am glad Austin doesn’t bark! But he can meow for Europe!!! Interesting to read of Your very good reasons for barking Clowie 🙂

  9. Oh Clowie training humans is a real pain. I bark all the time at anything passing the house but the postman is the best and then I rip the post for good measure.Have a wonderful Wednesday.
    Best wishes Mollly

  10. This is an interesting post. I rarely bark, but when I do, it’s usually because the evil mailman or the sneaky UPS or FedEx guys are trying to kill me. I’m pretty sure that’s why they keep coming into the front hallway of my apartment…. I always scare them away.

    Love and licks,

  11. LOL! My Kuvasz sister is a big barker as well, but somehow along the way, she transferred the initial warning bark to me so I start barking and howling and then she joins in. Mom really appreciates my howling along with Katie’s barking! Just stopping by from the blog hop, have a fun day!

  12. snoopys@snoopysdogblog

    You sound like you’re doing a great job of protecting your family Clowie! 🙂

    I bark for the doorbell and then the other time when I bark is when I hear my buddy Cosmo next door barking, but the humans are happy with that one and they usually whisper to shhh! Then I have to do my quiet bark which Mum says sounds pitiful and I’m not sure Cosmo can even hear it – doh!

    Hope you’re having a fun day 🙂

    Your pal Snoopy 🙂

  13. We don’t bark,but we do talk. Do you growl if there is danger,or bark? We growl if there is when the propane truck arrives.
    The Maple Syrup Mob

  14. Hey Clowie, Jet here.

    Gosh, you have given us so much to think about… as Little Miss Golden Barker and I bark at perceived danger to our territory, too… Fascinating… Thank you for sharing… btw, Mom says your bipeds are super smart!

    • Thank you Jet! I won’t tell my bipeds what your Mom said about them, I’ve taught them most of what they know – I’ve heard them say how much they’ve learnt from me!

  15. Now a better question is how do you make a beagle stop barking? lol Good for you, Clowie!

    Christie from

  16. Hmmm, me thinks my hairy slobbery sister Cinnamon barks just to hear herself bark!
    Her breed is supposed to be quiet, but she sure isn’t! She purrticularly likes to bark at strange dogs!

  17. WOULD love to hear You barking 🙂 🙂 xxx You’re a beauty xoxoxo love xo C

  18. Great post – I will read it to my staff immediately. I’m barking rarely… only for birds, the doorbell, my food, my toys, if it is boring, if it is not boring, for fun, if I have a good acoustic, to the tv, to cars….ooops the comment formular is full :o) have a barking wednesday

  19. Clowie this was excellent advice but I am torn about having my bipeds see it. Like you, I bark at falling leaves, everything! It’s a Sheltie’s job. My biped (Mom) tries to just ignore me…if my bipeds raise their voices I it does make me bark more. I will have my Mom work on not raising her voice when I bark. She does say “thank you Dakota” when I do stop and she does use “quiet” but I think she is doing it in the wrong way. Should I show her this or not? Barks and licks and love, Dakota

    • Dakota, it is a tough decision – I think I’ll have to leave it to your conscience! But do consider carefully before letting her see it – there may be no turning back. Your bark probably can’t be heard quite as far away as mine can.

  20. Ha ha, very demure indeed. Good info to share, thanks Clowie. We also used to thank Buddy after one or two barks and that was it. He only barked if someone came to the door and we were inside. Outside, he’d just run up to them and mow them over with love.

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