Help, my English Bull Terrier doesn’t stop barking! How to stop barking dogs

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Excessively barking dogs can be annoying. Bull Terriers usually are not known to be excessive barkers. However, even among them there are individuals that can become pretty vocal.

My English Bull Terrier Mila, for example, is a frequent barker and besides that a very vocal dog in general. She is using a whole variety of noises to communicate. Some of them are a little annoying, while others are utterly cute. Her predecessor Fancy had a crisp “barking phase” at a younger age, when she would notify us of things happening beyond our front door. Later in life this completely ceased and we hardly ever heard her voice.

Many owners don’t mind theirs dogs barking in general. After all barking notifies strangers of the presence of a dog. But a lot of owners would like to have better control over time and length of the barking.
To handle the issue it is important to understand triggers and the dog’s intentions.

Why do dogs bark?

The reasons for barking can be manifold:

  • excitement
  • or quite the opposite: boredom
  • to alert their humans
  • distress or fear
  • to communicate with other dogs or animals

only to name a few possible triggers.

How to stop barking dogs

Barking may need a combination of different measures to become controllable. 

In order to work on the barking, we first need to identify the situations that trigger the barking in order to learn more about the dog’s motivation and possible counterstrategies.

Are there any things we can actively do to discourage barking?

Some people don’t ask why the dog is barking, put a shock collar around it’s neck instead or use air or water and shock or spray until the dog stops barking.

This is an aversive training method. All of you, who have read across my blog, know that I am not a fan of training/ learning through punishment.

Not only does it bear the risk of an aggressive reaction in many situations and can damage the dog’s trust in the owner. In my opinion it also is the least effective way of communication for learning purposes.

If using punishment to “cure” barking, all the dog learns is that it is simply not allowed to express itself, no matter if the reason is distress, boredom, dominance or pain.

Therefore tips on how to use a shock collar etc. will not be part of this essay.

But there are still several things owners of barking dogs can try.

Aversive training methods are also often chosen, just because they show results more immediately than other methods. Positive reinforcement, for example, is a much more positive way, but it usually takes A LOT MORE TIME.

I personally do not bother, because I know that I can always manage as long as my trained behaviors are not quite 100% in place yet. No biggy.

Read more about how to deal with dogs barking at home on the next page.

6 thoughts on “Help, my English Bull Terrier doesn’t stop barking! How to stop barking dogs

  1. Hello,

    I am having a hard time trying to train my 4 month old bull terrier, Pluto is his name. He is full of energy and I have a few questions to figure out how to make him stop acting up. He is always ripping the carpet in my house, He starts to get crazy (happy and excited) when he sees people, or other dogs, he doesn’t stop barking even if I speak to him in a calm voice, and in the car he will continue to bark at me or try to get on my lap. I really want to get some help on how to train him because I don’t want him to get out of control when he gets old or become aggressive. Please help me.

  2. Hi, we have a 8 month old English bull terrier named Bently, we purchased Bently after our previous English bull terrier passed from bladder cancer. We have raised them both the same way, all women in the house so we are very loving with him but also strong voices so when he is naughty we’re very vocal to let him know. But he is by far the naughtiest dog we’ve ever had, he chews EVERYTHING up and demolishes anything in his path, we bought a non chewable bed for him, he chewed it to pieces. He is very playful, and can be quiet vicious when he is, I don’t think he realises it but you can tell when you’re playing with him he’ll be playful and doesn’t bite hard but he passes a barrier and will just sometimes randomly attack you to the point you bruise and bleed from him, especially if you’re walking him, sometimes he can turn and will attack you on his lead in public. We can handle all of that but what’s most annoying is that because he chews all of the furniture up we only let him in the living room when certain people aren’t in there (as he attacks them constantly) and if there is somebody that can pay constant attention on him to stop him from chewing these things so when he’s in the other room seperated by a baby gate he barks, continously, for hours on end none stop, nothing will stop him, I must admit we have tried many things, shock collars aren’t one because we don’t agree with that, we have admittedly tried the spray gun but he just thinks it’s fun and tries to eat the water, telling him no doesn’t stop him, we’ve tried the treats method trying to train him with treats, we have this device which lights up when he barks I’m guessing sending out some kind of noise that he can hear when he does but that doesn’t bother him one bit. We’ve tried everything, our previous English bull terrier was a beaut, no problems would never harm a fly even if you tried to play with him he’d think he was biting to hard and would stop, he never barked unless he heard something he just loved attention and being close to us, the only issue we had with him was he was VERY lazy, to the extent to walk him you had to drag him as he’d sit down and refuse to walk. We’re all out of options. We just miss having a calm, loving dog. He does seem un trainable! Also another thing, We wanted our previous English bull terrier to be trained so we did take it to professional training centre which was very expensive they had dog pools and everything, they turned him down after a couple of sessions saying he was un trainable and that’s when he was a puppy so I’m dreading thinking that Bently can’t be trained because he really needs it.

    • Hello Paige,
      I am so sorry! This one comment escaped my attention. I just found it.
      I hope my words will still be helpful and you have not given up on your dog yet. Because let me tell you this one thing: NO dog is untrainable. Especially not one that you have adopted as a little puppy. With Bull Terriers many things are all about patience. And yes, they can be different in their temperament. No dog is like the other, even within the same breed. Patience and consistency and the will to commit to this little “monster” are your hope now.
      If you stick to it, you WILL be successful – sooner or later.
      As your dog seems so incredibly hyperactive and the former one was a little lazy, the first question that pops into my mind is: Does your puppy get enough exercise and diversion? Fetching balls, chasing things, mind games, water games, agility … there are a lot of options around. But they all take an engaged owner. The very agile Bull Terriers for sure are not something for people who love their couch. That would be other breeds, although with age he probably will settle a little. My current girl is also one of those pretty active ones. And I tend to think that those ones also are a little bit nippier and rougher when young. However, he’s not meaning bad, whatever it may look like. He needs to learn.
      Try entertaining him as well as giving him time-outs. He may be whining, but that’s probably mainly defiance after he got a nice playtime and does not want it to end. Try to focus his attention on chew toys and durable toys, away from yourself, your hands and feet. Maybe try a toy tied to a line on a stick to create some distance between you. Try to avoid games that involve some kind of simulated fight, such as tug in order to not incite his competitive and wild side much more.
      IF he gets you (biting, nipping), interrupt everything immediately. It may seem ineffective at first. But believe me, after some time he WILL connect the dots and he will start to avoid doing things that end his beloved playtime and attention from you.
      For calming and in order to save the furniture you could try to get him used to a sturdy and roomy box or crate gradually. This will not happen overnight. But if done right, he will learn to love the box as his own room and sanctuary when he needs some “alone time” on his own will. However, keep confined times limited because Bull Terriers can develop obsessive behaviors when confined too long at a time and too often, something that will not improve the rest of their overall behavior and can make them mentally ill. But short periods up to 2-3 hours at a time are tolerable and can even be very beneficial since giving them time to calm down and take a nap, especially when they are young and still need that sleep.
      This brings me to the question how long and often your dog is alone each day. If he chews furniture a lot does he do that while you are present?
      If so – great! – because you have the chance to interfere. If he does it when alone, he may be alone for too long at a time and bored. Just a thought.
      Another important thing: Stick to actively rewarding DESIRED behavior and ignore every undesired behavior (if necessary time-outs). This way he learns on the go what earns him interaction, love and reward, and what doesn’t. Be firm and consistent, but loving at the same time. Sternness does not hurt your dog as long as it is fair.
      I don’t know how long you have tried each method you have described, but I somehow feel you may have switched too fast and just have not stuck long enough to one strategy for it to take effect. It is a very common phenomenon that we as dog owners just expect success way too soon. We don’t notice the progress because we are hoping for more in less time.
      But while that happens our dogs still grow and learn.
      Dog training by a professional trainer, by the way, with Bull Terriers most of the time only makes sense in single sessions (not group sessions) and the trainer should be experienced with this particular breed. It is ridiculous to hear from a “trainer” that a dog is “untrainable”. These people like to train dogs/breeds who are very compliant by nature, such as herding dogs e.g. But not every dog is equal and a trainer should be able to keep up with that. If not, he is not worth one dollar spent.
      So, if you still want to engage a trainer, try to find someone familiar with Bull Terriers in your area who does single training sessions TOGETHER with the owner. Because not only our dogs, also we as owners can always learn one thing more. And working together with your dog and the trainer gives you the chance to bond more with your dog, watch and enjoy progress and build your dog’s trust in you. You will see that this makes worlds of a difference, even with such a little roughneck as yours if you have the “right” trainer.

      One other thing I hear out of your description and I can SO relate to that because I just felt the same way! I did not want to realize it at first but it was definitely what I’ve been hoping for: Hubby and I had loved our last Bull Terrier SO much! She was an angel and so devoted! She grew 14 years old before she left us. And me missed her insanely.
      When the new puppy came into our home, everything was different. We tried to love her from the start. But in our hearts what we wanted at that time was the other dog back. But we tried to be fair and remember that when our former dog had been young, there was also some damage here and there. And while she never was as wild as Mila now, we still had to grow together and get used to each other.
      So, we decided to chew down our heartache about the dog lost and tried to focus on the new temperament we now have. And it worked. It took its time, but it worked. And I love her today as I loved our last dog.
      It may be that you are – knowingly or unknowingly – in the same situation right now. So I’d just try to give the new one a fair chance.

      Please, don’t give up on your dog. If you stick to it and keep up with the training at around the age of three a switch will flip and all of a sudden you will have a much more devoted dog, much more compliant and insanely in love with you.
      You will get there. Just allow it the time and until then try to manage as good as you can.

    • Hello Melanie,
      tail chasing and excessive barking in different situations in many cases have one of the following two reasons:

      Either boredom or over-excitement.

      So, the first thing to try is to find out which one of the two is in your case.
      Does your dog get enough exercise, diversion and social interaction with you? OR Are you trying SO hard to entertain your dog sufficiently that it constantly keeps your dog on a high level of excitement?
      Depending on your answer, your dog likely needs either a little more attention and exercise OR it needs to learn to calm down. Tail chasing, in particular, is a serious sign that it is time to fix some things because this behavior can become obsessive and will be very hard to stop then.
      If your dog barks at its own reflexion in the mirror, it might think that there is another dog and try to communicate territorial claims. Have you also watched your dog barking a lot at other dogs? If so, working on this issue may also resolve the mirror barking. In the essay you have commented on you already find some advice on how to handle barking, for example by training.
      But the bottom line in this case, in my opinion, is that you are dealing with some underlying causes here and if you deal with those, the other problems will likely vanish on their own. This, of course, is only some general advice from afar and just what I take from your description and just a few keywords. Your situation may be much more complex. But assessing that would require seeing you and your dog interacting in real-life.

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