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The good news is that most kids sleep right through all the barking! They get used to it in utero because the womb is loud.
But since a barking dog waking up your child can be very triggering, let’s go over various solutions.
There are different types of barking, to name a few:
Frequently, there is more than one reason. Most herding breeds, scent hounds, and many small breeds are vocal. Some dogs were bred to guard the property and their owners.
It is important to remember that you can reduce the barking but expecting a dog bred to be vocal, to be always quiet, is unrealistic.
If your dog's barking has become an issue, the first step is to identify the reasons for barking. How you proceed depends on the reasons.
Fear-based barking will have a different training plan compared to alert barking.
If your dog’s barking wakes your child up or you are worried it may wake up your child, having a good management system will help, regardless of the type of barking.
In most cases, that alone can reduce a lot of barking. If you need more help, I recommend working with a positive reinforcement trainer to have a solid training plan. Not sure how to find one? Check out this blog post on how and where to find a certified dog trainer.
The formula for less barking: Add white noise machines + Remove the known triggers + Add more exercise + Give your dog a job. Let's dive in!
Becca Campbell, a child sleep consultant and founder of Littlezsleep, is a huge fan of layering the white noise for families with young children and dogs. Her favorite white noise machines are Marpac Yogasleep Dohm and Hatch Rest Baby Sound Machine.
You can connect the doorbell to smart speakers or have a motion pop-up on TV. The video doorbells have seasonal sounds; this way, a dog doesn't get used to any of the tones.*
Pro Tip: If your dog starts barking when they hear footsteps or a delivery truck pulling up in front of your house, silencing or turning off the doorbell sound won’t make a difference. You always want to look at all the triggers and address the earliest trigger.
* For some families, getting notifications on the phone and turning off the doorbell has been life-changing - “cuts barking to zero.”
Many parents shared that even if you change the ringer to chirping birds, “it works until the dog figures it out.” Unfortunately, some dogs may start barking whenever the phone rings, and only when the phone is turned on silent a dog won’t bark.
Pro Tip: You can make most puzzle toys more challenging by freezing the food or packing it densely.
Bubble machine and scented bubbles (bacon, peanut butter, etc. flavor) - you can just turn it on and sit back while your dog gets a fun workout.
Flirt pole - you can play sitting or standing, and it doesn’t require much of your energy, but it’s a fun and fast way to tire out a dog.
Myth: If your dog barks out of fear, you are not rewarding the barking by giving them treats. You are changing the emotional state by pairing the scary thing with something they like, usually a treat or toy. You will get less barking over time.
While most children sleep through dogs’ barking, it’s the parents who often struggle more. If barking is a big trigger for you, and you are considering getting a dog for your family, choose a breed that is less vocal, e.g., a Cavalier, a Basenji, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, or a Newfoundland.
If you already have a barker, and now that you have a baby, the barking drives you nuts, there is a lot you can do to reduce it.