How to Stop a Boston Terrier From Barking

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Boston Terriers are gentle, loving dogs with a lively, playful spirit. Originally bred as fighting dogs, these sweet-tempered animals are now celebrated as non-aggressive companion dogs. Small yet sturdy, some Bostons display more than a touch of classic terrier stubbornness. Owners of Boston Terriers know that an extra dose of patience and steady, calm commitment are essential to success in training your Boston to stop excessive barking.

Things You'll Need

  • Spray bottle with water
  • Soda can with coins inside
  • Favorite small dog treats, such as a hot dog cut in small bits

Set realistic goals. Barking is normal behavior. According to veterinarian and animal behaviorist Dr. Ian Dunbar, it would be “inane and inhumane” to attempt to completely eradicate barking. Most people want a dog to alert them if an intruder is near, or something is wrong. Excessive barking, on the other hand, interferes with quality of life and your enjoyment of your dog.

A realistic training goal is not to stop the behavior altogether, but to make sure barking is not triggered by ordinary events, like a jogger passing the house, and to ensure the dog stops barking on command.

Change your dog’s life by adding physically tiring and mentally stimulating activities to his daily routine. Dr. Nicholas Dodman, Director of Animal Behavior at Tufts University and author of "The Well-Adjusted Dog," argues that lack of exercise is the root cause of many canine problem behaviors, including excessive barking. Appropriate activities include playing tug-of-war or fetch, long walks or jogs, trips to the dog run, obedience or agility work, and teaching new tricks. Problem behaviors may diminish, and training will be easier, if you enrich your dog’s life with exercise.

Identify sights or sounds that trigger barking. When your dog barks, get his attention and follow immediately with the command, “Shush” or “Quiet.” If he doesn’t respond, startle him with a spritz in the face from a water sprayer or a loud shake of a coin-filled can. The goal is to refocus his attention away from the trigger and onto you. Then hold a treat near his nose so he can smell it. After two or three seconds of quiet, reward him with the treat and quiet praise. Gradually extend the time before you reward. As he progresses, reward him sometimes with praise alone or a favorite game.

Set up situations to bolster training. Have a friend or family member ring the doorbell, ride a bicycle or walk a dog past the house. Be ready to correct your dog’s behavior.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be consistent. React the same way each and every time your dog barks.
  • Dogs cannot sniff and bark at the same time, so reward with a treat that smells delicious to your dog.
  • Never hit, threaten to hit, or shout at your dog. Such behavior confuses the dog, impedes training and damages trust. This is especially important with intelligent, sensitive dogs like Boston Terriers.
  • Never train in a state of anger. Stay calm and collected. End the training session, if you start to become tense or frustrated.

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