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:
- Frustration (barrier)
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.
Where to start
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.
What is a good management system?
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!
- Get a white noise machine for the nursery to help drown out any sounds.
- Layer the white noise by having a second white noise machine outside the nursery's door.
- Have a white noise machine by the front door if the baby is napping so that dogs don’t hear and bark at every passerby.
- Close the door and use a baby monitor to listen to your baby.
- If your dog wears a collar at home, getting silent tags will reduce the noise when your dog shakes off, plays, or scratches itself.
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.
Remove the known triggers
- Identify the triggers and avoid them as much as possible
- Disconnect your doorbell
- Have a sign (there are many great ones on Etsy!) or write a note with instructions on your front door.
- Don't let your dog sit on the windowsill and bark at passersby
- Have a sound machine by the front door to block as much outside noise as possible, etc.
- If you’d rather not get rid of the doorbell, you can silence the bell without unplugging it. A Dog Meets Baby Instagram follower connected her doorbell to Alexa, to a smart plug, and she turns it off for naps.
- A gate to section off the part of the house where the baby sleeps or to stop your dog from running to the front door or windows (barking at delivery trucks!).
- Get a window film. There are many to choose from, and they are very helpful in reducing barking.
- Add instructions on the delivery app: ‘Leave it at my door’, ‘Please don’t knock or ring the doorbell.’
- A video doorbell such as Eufy, Ring, Wyze, Blink, Google Nest, or Arlo lets you turn the doorbell chime on and off on the app but still get an alert on the phone when someone is walking up to the house or when the doorbell was rung.
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.*
- Ask your visitor to call, text, or meet them with your dogs outside.
- Have a big box or a dedicated place for the deliveries, not close to the front door.
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.
Give your dog a job
- Tired dogs bark less! Check out my Amazon Store for puzzle toys and chews recommendations.
- Have a nap project for your dog. Here are some ideas:
- A frozen peanut butter kong
- A snuffle mat with kibble or treats
- A chew such as a bully stick or trachea or a gorilla chew
- A lick mat
- Interactive Treat Puzzle Toys - The most popular ones are by Nina Ottosson.
- Treat and Train - my personal favorite!
Pro Tip: You can make most puzzle toys more challenging by freezing the food or packing it densely.
- If it is in your budget, hire a dog walker, and find a good daycare. ProTip: Daycare every day can be very overstimulating for most dogs. Sign up your dog 2-3 times a week, not on consecutive days. Your dog will still be tired on the off days.
- Many family members, friends, or neighbors want to help. ProTip: Every visitor spends some time with the dog, of course, if the visitor and the dog are comfortable with each other.
- Stroller or baby-in-the-carrier walks.
- Play with your dog in your house or yard while your baby watches.
- Here are my two recommendations for sleep-deprived parents:
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.
Remember, dogs do what works, make sure the barking doesn't work for your dog.
Examples of how barking could work for your dog:
- people walk away (dogs sitting by the windows or doors and barking at passersby)
- dog gets access to food, toy, or locations
- a dog is let out of a crate or confinement area
- dog gets attention (it doesn't matter to them if negative or positive)
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.
Here is the list of the 10 products discussed.
- White noise machine
- Window film
- Tag silencer or a silent tag
- Baby gate
- Nap project puzzle toy or chew
- A video doorbell
- A sign on your door and a designated box or place for deliveries.
- A bubble machine + scented bubbles
- A flirt pole
- Training, e.g., train your dog to grab a toy when they hear the doorbell sound.