If you find yourself with a dog barking out the window at seemingly everything that passes by, it can be an incredibly frustrating experience. Not only can this situation cause tension with neighbors, but it’s simply not fun!
Loud and annoying barks that carry on without ceasing at the people, dogs, and garbage trucks outside can be a huge interruption in your day, and the relationship with your dog may be damaged in the process.
We will be exploring the reasons that dogs bark out the window, along with ways to stop their behavior.
Why do dogs bark out the window?
Several of the most common reasons dogs bark out the window are excitement, frustration, and anxiety. Barking is the way your dog is able to communicate these feelings.
Dogs that are excited about what is outside also often find themselves frustrated by the window that prevents them from being able to visit the dogs or people they see. This is also often the case with dogs that bark out the window at small animals, as they are frustrated they cannot chase them.
On the other hand, sometimes the barking is due to anxiety. Your dog may be worried about the dogs or people invading their space, and be warning them to stay away.
You can try and tell the difference by watching your dog’s body language, and looking to see if you notice signs of anxiety such as licking their lips or yawning.
The good news is that you can use the same method to train your dog to stop barking out the window, no matter if they are frustrated or anxious.
How to stop dogs from barking at windows
When teaching dogs to stop barking out the window, you will be using both management and training to reach your goal. Putting these two methods together will give you a higher rate of success and you’ll notice changes in your dog’s behavior sooner than with just one method alone.
Management options are going to involve preventing your dog from practicing barking out the window, although they won’t directly teach the dog to stop barking. It’s important to prevent your dog from practicing the behavior as much as possible, though, because the more your dog practices barking out the window, the harder it will be to change their behavior in the future.
One method of management is to avoid keeping your dog in the room with front-facing windows, or to avoid staying in that room during peak times of walking traffic. Baby gates, exercise pens, and doors provide great and easy barriers to keep your dog in another part of the house.
Otherwise, if removing access to the room(s) with the windows isn’t feasible, you can try and remove access to the windows themselves. For some dogs, this is as easy as moving furniture so they can’t perch on it to see out the window, or using an exercise pen fence to block off an area around the window so your dog can’t get as close to it.
Another option is to use a window film to limit the clarity with which your dog can see through the window. While some dogs may need a temporary cardboard or other solid material to block the window, many dogs benefit from not being able to see the person or dog outside directly when the decorative window film is used.
With the variety of cute window films available, and the fact that you can find temporary and removable options, trying this step in management at a minimum is important.
Now that we’ve set our dog up for success with some management strategies, it’s time to tackle some training options.
Our goal with training will be to teach your dog that they can look at things out the window, but they have to stay quiet and calm while doing so.
When working on this, it’s important to have easily accessible rewards in the room with windows, so that you are prepared to train your dog whenever the situation arises. A container of treats with a lid that screws on is safest since your dog can’t open it without thumbs!
Next, when your dog sees something out the window that they are going to bark at, be ready to call them back and toss treats on the floor. If possible, catch your dog before they even bark.
If your dog is unable to turn away from the window, you either need to start with something easier (like a family member standing outside instead of someone new) or use higher value rewards.
You can use their name, or make up another cue, such as “scatter,” as you toss the treats on the ground. In order to make this a big and exciting situation, you can even use a whole handful of your dog’s kibble (and then take that portion out of their meals for the day).
In the beginning, your dog might bark for a little bit before they turn back, and they might turn back for a moment only to bark again. That’s OK! Our goal is to start teaching our dog that the new pattern is “I see person = I get treats” and it will take some time, especially if this is a long-standing habit.
With a little extra training skills, you can make this process even more efficient by using the “Look at That!” protocol. This helps speed up training by marking the moment your dog looks out the window, often using a clicker, and giving your dog the opportunity to figure out this new pattern with you.
The Look at That game was created by Leslie McDevitt, the author of the Control Unleashed books. You can find a Certified Control Unleashed Instructor near you by visiting this map, in order to have help integrating this game (and many others) that will benefit your dog and help you teach them to not bark out the window.