why does my dog bark at birds

Having a small dog is fantastic in so many ways. You have the cutest ball of fur to cuddle up with in the evenings. He can sit on your lap without squashing you. He doesn’t terrify guests and small children. So, in many ways, you love your dog. However, he does have one rather annoying habit. Whenever you are on a walk or he is in the yard, he starts barking at birds. As soon as a bird is in sight, loud barking is likely to follow. It was amusing at first, but now it’s becoming a problem. Not to mention, it’s quickly souring relations with the neighbors.

Training him not to bark at birds is essential for your eardrums and for your canine’s diminishing popularity. Barking can sometimes be the first step on a slippery slope to aggressive behavior, which could result in biting. Nipping the problem in the bud at the barking stage will prevent this.

Training any dog not to bark once they have found their voice can be challenging. With small dogs, it is often a bigger hurdle, as many bark because they feel threatened more easily. You will need to use a number of deterrence measures to keep him quiet around birds. You will also need to re-direct his energy into something more productive. An important part of training will also be teaching him to bark and then be quiet on command. This can prove useful in other situations too.

If he’s a puppy he should be a fast learner and eager to please. You could see results in just a week. If he’s older and the habit has been cemented over many years then you may need up to a month. Get the training right and you’ll get to enjoy those peaceful dog walks you first envisaged.

Before you get to work, you’ll need to collect a few bits. Break his favorite food into small pieces, or stock up on some treats. If your little dog is aggressive as well as loud, you may want to use a muzzle until the aggressive behavior is under control.

A water bottle and a deterrence collar will also be required for one of the techniques. Set aside 10 minutes each day for training and be ready to react on walks.

Once you have all that, just bring patience and an optimistic attitude, then work can begin!

Whenever he barks at birds you must react swiftly. Rush over and give him a firm ‘NO’. While you don’t want to terrify him, you do want him to know you mean business. Hold eye contact while you give the command too.

If the firm ‘NO’ doesn’t deter him, upgrade to a water bottle. Carry one with you and give him a quick spray near the face whenever he barks. This will make him think twice next time.

You can get deterrence collars online that emit an unpleasant spray of citronella whenever a dog barks. This will quickly get him associating barking with negative consequences, which will keep him quiet.

The Leave It Method

When your dog is barking at the birds in your yard while you are outside, you can use the leave it command that you have taught him.

By offering your dog a treat as an incentive, you can begin teaching him to stop. To let your dog know what’s there and that he might get it, conceal a treat inside your hand and allow him to sniff it.

As your dog sniffs the treat in your hand, give the order “leave it.” Of course, since the treat is hidden in your hand, your dog is unable to reach it.

Give your dog some verbal praise, like “good boy,” after he ignores your hand holding the treat hidden inside, and then give him the treat. He will eventually understand that the leave it command has something to do with ignoring whatever you’re asking him to leave alone.

Take your dog’s training to other objects, like a toy or a spoonful of peanut butter you’ve hanging over his nose, once he associates the leave it command with ignoring the treat you’ve hidden in your hand.

After you give your dog the “leave it” command, make sure to reward him once he diverts his attention from his current desire.

Take your dog outside and let him bark at the birds after a few training sessions and great rewards for learning the leave-it command. Once your dog starts barking, say the command leave it.

When he hears that order, he ought to stop and focus on you, or at least divert his gaze from the birds. Once he does this, give him a treat. Every time he goes outside and starts barking at the birds, practice telling him to leave it. Make sure the command is only given when the birds are attracting his attention.

When you are aware that the birds are active, take your dog outside. Let him play and run around in your backyard while you watch for him to bark at the birds.

Say “Uh-Oh” and explain that your dog will have to go back inside if he continues to bark at the birds.

Once you utter the word “Uh-Oh,” bring your dog back inside the house.

When the birds are active again, try to bring your dog outside. This could happen hours or minutes from now.

When your dog barks at the birds, follow the previous instructions again. This will teach him that when he barks at the birds, you will say “uh-oh” and he will have to come inside. He will eventually come to understand that he must refrain from barking at the birds in order to be outside.

Reward good behavior with treats when your dog is outside and not barking at the birds. Give your dog a treat when you see that he is ignoring the birds. Additionally, this will teach him that he can get rewards for remaining silent and not barking at the birds.

Whenever he barks at birds you must react swiftly. Rush over and give him a firm ‘NO’. You want him to understand that you mean business, even though you don’t want to frighten him. Hold eye contact while you give the command too.

As soon as he falls silent, give him a reward. He needs to remain silent for three seconds in order for the reward to be associated with the action. Now practice this for a few minutes each day. Once more, practice in a range of scenarios to ensure he completely connects the behavior to the instruction.

For one of the techniques, you’ll also need a deterrence collar and a water bottle. Make time for training every day—ten minutes—and be prepared to respond when out for walks.

When a dog barks, deterrence collars that release an unpleasant citronella spray can be purchased online. This will quickly make him associate barking with bad things, which will make him stop barking.

After you have all of that, all you need to bring is perseverance and a positive outlook, and then work can start!

The Birds are Good Method

Take your dog outside for a walk around your backyard. Point out the birds. It’s even simpler to do this if you have birdhouses so he can see the house, which is in the same spot every time, and you can chat to him about the birds.

If your dog starts barking at the birds while you’re strolling together, reward him with a treat to divert his attention from the birds to you.

Give your dog the treat once he has turned his attention from the birds to you.

Once your dog has demonstrated this multiple times while barking at the birds, you must issue a command to him. When you need to divert his attention from something that is bothering him, you can use this command specifically for the birds or for other purposes. A simple “watch me” command or even the phrase “no birds” will do ’.

Use your vocal cues and commands, such as “no birds” when your dog starts barking, once he has shifted his attention from the birds to you. To help your dog associate the command with not barking and the possibility of receiving a reward, pair it with a treat.

Practice this as often as you can. Say “no birds” to your dog before you leave the house once they’ve mastered the command. As you open the door, take a step outside.

Written by Stephanie Plummer

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 01/04/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

More articles by Stephanie Plummer


How do I get my dog to stop barking at my bird?

Whenever he starts barking at the birds, lead him away. Take him by the collar and remove him until he falls silent. After a minute or so, you can release him back into the area. The combination of positive and negative reinforcement will swiftly drill into him what behavior is and isn’t acceptable around birds.

Is it normal for dogs to catch birds?

The Root of the Behavior Through living in the wild, hunting was a natural part of life and if your dog was in the wild today, they may have used that past instinct for survival. Therefore, if you catch your dog chasing after a bird, it is that hunting instinct.

How do I stop territorial barking?

When she barks, say “Quiet” once in a conversational volume and friendly, upbeat voice. Wait until she stops barking. Do not repeat the cue. When she stops barking, praise her immediately and give her a food reward.