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

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Barking at home

English Bull Terriers and most other breeds in general are all more or less territorial. This territory usually is the home and often adjacent areas (porch, yard etc.)

Because of their excellent hearing they often “go off” without any noticeable trigger at home.

Learn more about a dog’s hearing in these two posts:
Did you hear this? – Interesting dog facts about how dogs hear
Interesting dog facts about dog’s ears

This kind of barking is usually intended to notify the family of threats and on the other hand notify other dogs and strangers of the dog’s presence.

Especially if the triggers are noises outside (cars, other dogs, people …) we usually have a hard time to identify them first and usually no influence on removing those triggers. Otherwise we could just take them away and stop the barking that way.

Sometimes dogs bark for attention, for example, if they need “to go” or if they get bored and try to “call” for someone.

Boredom or a lack of physical exercise and mental challenges can cause the barking to become more excessive.

Once in that excited state the dog uses this as an outlet in the form of seemingly endless barking, often accompanied by agitated behavior.

Remedy No.1

Enough exercise – and calming

Consequently, enough exercise and mental challenges will help to lower the general energy and excitement levels of the dog. “Enough” in this case means sufficient to drain the energy and avoid boredom, but not so much that the dog remains on a high excitement level all day long.

Dogs who are bored, do not only easily become destructive and noisy, desperately trying to fill theirs days with some action. Enough exercise – especially for high energy dogs, such as Bull Terriers – is also vital for their mental and physical health.

Bored dogs can develop OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Behavior) symptoms, which are very hard to control. One example is “spinning” or excessive licking (yap, not only allergies can trigger that) – both sadly often watched in English Bull Terriers. But also excessive barking CAN turn out to be an OCD symptom.

This can make a dog harder to control and the barking as well.

As always the truth lies in the middle and a good ratio is key.

Some owners misinterpret the exercise needs of their dogs in the other direction and think “more helps more”, and as a consequence by this keep their dogs on a constantly high excitement level with too much exercise.

The strategy to wear a dog out by exercising it until it drops and falls asleep, can’t work. The exercise not only drains energy. Many dogs already bring more strength and resilience than the owner is able to equal into the relationship from the start. And while exercise indeed drains the dog’s energy for a while, at the same time it trains the dog’s body and continuously raises the bar – an upwards spiral that hardly any owner can compete with in terms of exercising until tired.

Besides, this strategy is also not free of risks, because in some dogs the control mechanisms that should stop them before physical harm is caused from exhaustion are pretty weak and easily overruled by excitement. There have been dogs that have literally exercised until they dropped dead, because of organ failure.

Some of the very agile and active dogs are having difficulties to “come down” after exercise. For these dogs therefore additional calming exercises and routines are just as valuable as enough exercise and can even help with the barking issues.

Some owners try to stop their dog’s barking by shouting at them. That can work for a second, because it startles and distracts the dog. But, after that moment it’s often likely to ignite even more barking. Especially if the dog is not able to interpret the owner’s voice and facial expression correctly. Because many dogs don’t necessarily equal a loud human voice with anger or disapproval unless they know exactly what disapproval means.
Another lesson they need to learn in everyday life before this can be applied successfully and without room for misunderstandings.

They are being loud for the most different reasons themselves. So how should they know?
Some seem to think that the humans are “also barking” when they shout and feel rather reinforced by that to continue the barking.

Read more about remedy no. 2 “un-barking” your dog on the next page.

10 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.

  3. I have a bull terrier , hes a great doggo . His names chico , he was dropped off by a friend i have no clue how old he is n even due to the weird circumstances he has grown to trust me n behave n listen . He barks at people he knows around the house though , my little siblings , my uncle n aunts , n no he hasnt barked at me . They all show him the same affection , &’ we havent done anything to frighten him in anyway . Please tell me what triggers him to do this n how to resolve it ! <3

    • Barking is one way a dog communicates and by far does not have the same purpose and meaning in any given situation. Barking can have a number of reasons and is not always a display of aggression, as many people think. Dogs bark to indicate something they consider threatening, they bark to indicate the arrival of others, they bark to greet others or to engage them in interaction. Sometimes they even start barking just because they are bored.

      You are absolutely right to ask for triggers because that would be the first thing necessary to know in order to take the right measures to stop the barking.
      If the dog seems to be intimidated changing some parameters of the situation could help, such as the way people approach the dog. If the barking seems to be protective of you some training and showing the dog that the others are no threat could help. If it is an engaging bark to inspire interaction that would be a very different situation requiring a different path.

      I don’t know how long the dog has been in your household already. But one thought I want to throw in is that the barking could be part of settling in for the dog.
      If it has only been in your home for a few days or weeks, for example, the dog may still be in the process of sorting out who is who, who can be trusted and who it can follow (besides you). Often when a dog enters a new household it will stick to the person it has most interaction with as the one to follow in order to gain some initial stability and security. But there will still be a shorter or longer phase of distrust and insecurity before it really settles. The dog needs to take in a lot of new things and learn to trust. That does not come by nature.
      I am not saying that IS the reason for the barking, but it could be a contributing factor.

      The barking may well be connected to some experience of your dog in the past that you don’t know about.
      But that does not mean the riddle will be impossible to solve.
      However, to analyze your situation and give you some helpful advice I would have to know A LOT more detail about your entre situation at home and the barking situations in particular. The best thing to do in my opinion would be to have someone, ideally professional dog trainer who should especially be experienced with Bull Terriers, on site to evaluate the dog and also the entire situation in person.
      I know it is often not easy to find an experienced dog trainer in one’s area and it can be expensive. If that is the case here, alternatively a vet visit could bring at least some answers.
      Next time you are there for a routine visit you could bring the topic up and ask if the vet has some advice for you. Vets are usually not trainers but at least they see the dog and can assess if health and behavior are looking normal or if the dog seems to be overly intimidated, for example, or stressed, how it behaves around new people etc. and that might produce some input on your issue.

      Another way to gather more input – as the comment section here is not really the ideal place for an ongoing forum-like discussion – I want to recommend joining this forum:

      I am a member there myself. It is a place where you can meet lots of very nice and helpful Bull Terrier owners who love to share their experience and advice.
      You could lay out your story there. But, again, I encourage you to give more details about the situation and how the barking feels to you.
      I am pretty sure that it will not take long to get some answers and may be of great help to you.

  4. My Staffordshire bull terrier recently started barking while inside his cage. It started this weekend when my 5 yr old nephew came over, and he has been coming over for months. My nephew left last night we first suspected that it was jealousy but he is still barking. I don’t want to give him back to the shelter, but I don’t know what to do. I’ve tried exercising him, rewarding him when he stops barking, giving him attention when he stops barking, putting him outside, letting him sleep with me, and now vibrating collar. I don’t want to but I don’t know what else to do. what way can I stop him from barking?

    • Hello Destiny,
      I understand that this problem is likely causing you a great deal of stress. And I see that you have already tried a lot of the typical remedies recommended in such situations. Unfortunately, it is impossible to assess this situation to its full extend and give helpful advice over the internet just from a few sentences.
      One would have to see the circumstances in your home in order to do the most important thing first: Identify the trigger. This could be caused by anything from boredom over fear or pain to certain noises occurring frequently and triggering the barking. Your nephew’s visit may have something to do with it but it might as well be pure coincidence.
      Unfortunately you have not said a lot about when exactly the barking starts and how long it usually lasts. You mentioned that your dog even keeps barking when not in the cage but when in your bed. It would probably also be good to know how exactly this happens, suddenly or continuously ….?
      One thing is definitely clear: Something is setting off your dog. So, only finding out what it is can help to start working on it.

      I can only provide you with some more ideas to pound, because I did not find them in your description. But that does not mean that you have not already tried them. I can only guess here and hope that it brings your closer to finding the trigger:

      In order to exclude any kind of noise as the cause, have you tried to move your dog’s cage to a quiet and remote location AND/OR if it is not there already to your bedroom to give your dog the security that the pack is together during sleep?

      How is the construction of the cage? Is it open to all sides? Or does it have at least a part with closed sides and top where the dog can really retreat without constantly feeling exposed? Imagine that you would have to sleep on a mattress in the middle of the room and you don’t even have a blanket. That would probably make you feel uncomfortable and maybe even prevent you from falling asleep, because you don’t feel safe in this kind of bed. Dogs are very similar. Feeling too exposed in their cages could make them nervous and result in being overly alert (=barking at the flies on the wall). So, in case your dog’s cage is an all open metal grid construction this could contribute to your dog not being able to find rest.

      Another approach: Has anything else changed for your dog recently? Is it on a new diet aiming for weight loss, for example? Don’t laugh, even hunger can cause a dog to bark.

      Or, has anything changed in your neighborhood or at your home, such as a close neighbor or family member changing work shifts, returning home at unusual times now, for example? Or do you know of anyone having a newborn baby or a new pet in their home being close to you? Has anyone moved into your close neighborhood recently?

      Do you have Raccoons or other scavenging animals in your area that your dog may be hearing and alerting you about?

      Do you know anything about the history of your dog? Experiences that might cause anxiety or extreme awareness when triggered by certain noises, for example?

      How much exercise and interaction does your dog regularly have during the day? Bored dogs sometimes start barking when everything around them becomes quiet to attract attention.

      Could there be anything your dog can see from its position and wants to have when in its cage at night? That means the cage would be closed and the dog can’t leave it to get to the desired object.

      You see, the list of possible triggers could go on and on. And there are so many more possibilities even I am probably not even thinking about right now. It is just impossible to really guess what is going on without seeing the situation.
      Therefore, please don’t be disappointed in me suggesting to seek the help of a dog expert in your area and advising you to have your dog also checked healthwise as far as all of this is possible under the current circumstances. I would really love to help you for the sake of your nerves and to keep your dog out of a shelter.
      But there is sadly not really much more I can do from here. I wish you a quick solution for your problem, one that fits everyone, including your dog.

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