How to Calm a Skittish Barking Dog

If you can stay calm, so will your pup.

If you can stay calm, so will your pup.

From a loud thunderstorm to the presence of a stranger in your home, there are many triggers that can cause your pup anxiety, making him skittish. Soothe him by engaging his attention with a positive activity, while keeping calm yourself so you don't add to his mood.

Play classical music for your skittish pooch to calm him and reduce his constant barking. A study published in 2012 by the "Journal of Veterinary Behavior" showed that anxious pups who listened to classical music tended to spend more time sleeping and staying quiet than those who didn't. You can purchase classical-type music composed especially for our canine companions to keep them calm.

Stuff a rubber puzzle toy with some tasty dog treats, peanut butter or cream cheese and offer it to your anxious pooch. This will get his attention and stop his barking while he chews and licks at the treats inside, acting as a distraction from his anxiety. The simple acts of chewing and licking are soothing for our canine companions in general, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Spritz a calming pheromone around your pup to soothe his frazzled nerves and quiet him down. These sprays, commonly found in pet supply stores, mimic the scent of the pheromones that a mother dog releases to her newborn puppies, which is relaxing for them. The scent of the pheromones you spray around your pooch should calm him down if he's dealing with a stressful situation, separation anxiety or a phobia, according to WebMD.

Speak to your pup in a calm tone of voice to distract him from whatever is causing his anxiety. As soon as his attention is on you and he quiets down, even for a brief period of time, give him a few yummy treats. While he's eating the treats and being quiet, praise him profusely. Ignore unwanted behavior like barking and nervousness. Pretty soon he will get the message that calm, quiet behavior elicits treats and praise, while noisy, nervous behavior doesn't elicit any reaction.

Crate your anxious pup until he calms down. His crate is your pooch's safe retreat or "den" that can make him feel safe and secure when he's nervous or upset. Cover the crate with a blanket or towel to keep your pup from seeing or hearing what is making him so uncomfortable, making it feel even more like a safe cave for him.

Items you will need

  • Classical music
  • Rubber puzzle toy
  • Dog treats, peanut butter or cream cheese
  • Dog pheromone spray
  • Crate
  • Blanket or towel


  • Your pup easily picks up on your mood. If you are upset or anxious, he will be the same way, so try to stay as calm as possible around him.
  • If you don't have a dog pheromone spray around, place a few drops of lavender essential oil on your dog's bedding and his favorite areas. This acts as a soothing form of aromatherapy for your pup, recommends Cesar's Way.
  • Exercise your pooch regularly. A tired pup won't have the energy to sit barking nervously or becoming anxious, plus it provides an excellent way for the two of you to bond.

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About the Author

Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.

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