Boston Terriers are known to have an easygoing, gentle temperament, and are easy to train. But being a terrier mix breed, what’s their barking disposition like – do Boston Terriers bark a lot?
Boston Terriers are usually quiet dogs and have a low barking tendency. When they do bark, it’s usually a low woof rather than a loud bark. However, certain situations can trigger a more continuous barking response from them.
Continue reading to learn more about what you can expect from the American Gentleman’s barking, why they would bark more than necessary, and training tips!
Boston Terrier Barking and Breed Traits
Boston Terriers are a cross of English Bulldog and white English Terrier. But why mention this? It’s because genetics plays a role in a dog’s barking disposition.
Terriers in general love to bark. (My parents’ Yorkshire Terrier is the one that gets all the neighbourhood dogs barking!)
They were originally bred to be working dogs: a group with high energy levels. When Terriers bottle up their energy, i.e., their energy doesn’t get released, a common energy outlet for terriers is destructive behaviour and barking.
However, Bostons are different because they were one of the first terrier breeds not be a working dog and the first non-sporting dogs bred in the United States. In fact, due to the Boston Terrier’s temperament being so different, the AKC does not classify them into the terrier group.
This means that Boston Terriers have less in common with their Terrier heritage and more in common with their Bulldog ancestors (also part of the non-sporting dogs).
So, like English Bulldogs, Bostons are usually quiet dogs and don’t bark often. Their barks are not yappy or loud either, which is one of the reasons why Boston Terriers make good apartment dogs: they have a quiet personality.
Also, as part of the non-sporting dogs, Boston Terriers don’t have nearly as much energy as working or herding group dogs, but they can do all kinds of jobs (from hunting to guarding and, more commonly, companion dog).
When Do Boston Terriers Bark?
Having a low tendency to bark doesn’t mean that they cannot be vocal. Also, it depends on your dog’s personality; some Bostons are more relaxed than others.
So, why do Boston Terriers bark?
Boston Terriers, like all dogs, bark as a way to communicate, and they have different barks for different occasions:
#1 – Hello Barking
Boston Terriers tend to greet owners enthusiastically when they get home, and they usually shake their body to show joy. Some will also add a “hello bark” to the welcome mix. This does depend on your doggy’s personality.
#2 – Playful Barking
The American Gentleman can bark especially when startled and also when playing. However, even when playing, they don’t bark a lot. They will woof rather than bark loudly.
In general, Boston Terriers are more prone to express their happiness with their body language: wagging their tail, shaking their body or giving you kisses.
#3 – Territorial Barking
Bostons can be considered guard dogs because, by nature, are territorial and protective dogs. Your pooch considers your home, garden, car, his walk route and other places he spends a lot of time, his territory.
This may result in territorial barking, i.e., they can respond to noises and strangers (including other pets) with a bark.
Bostons can bark continuously when a person or another animal approaches his domain – he’s communicating that a stranger is invading his turf.
When they are home alone, they will guard the house and when you are in the house, they will give “warning” barks if they sense danger or an intruder.
Insider Tip: Territorial barking is not the same as aggressive barking (loud barks accompanied by showing their teeth). Well-socialized Boston Terriers can still give warning barks without becoming aggressive towards other people and dogs, or pets.
However, if your Boston Terrier tends to bark, he might also do it for the following reasons:
- Attention seeking barking.
- Communal barking.
- Distress barking.
- Obsessive barking.
#4 – Attention Seeking Barking
Do you have an attention seeker in the family?
Boston Terriers are companion dogs that enjoy spending time with their owners. Some of them bark simply for attention – from you or another animal; I call this “look at me barking.”
Your pooch might also bark in the hopes of getting food, a treat or some playtime.
Insider Tip: The more you reward this behaviour by giving him what he seeks (any form of attention will do… especially shouting back at them to shut up), the more likely he’ll be to continue to bark for attention.
#5 – Communal Barking
If your dog answers when he hears other dogs barking, it’s usually a social response. When your pooch hears the barking of nearby dogs or even dogs at some distance, he can respond in kind.
Bostons are less likely to engage in this but it depends on your dog’s personality.
#6 – Distress Barking
Boston Terriers can bark more in a stressful situation. Depending on how socialized he is, he might react to certain household sounds like the vacuum cleaner and the lawnmower.
If it’s a sound he’s not expecting, his body will probably be held stiffly during this activity and he may lunge forward a bit with each bark.
#7 – Obsessive Barking
Although less common for this breed, if your dog barks repetitively, perhaps while performing a repetitive movement like running back and forth along the fence in your yard, he’s demonstrating a bit of an obsession.
Training a Boston Terrier to Stop Barking
Although Boston Terriers aren’t big on barking, your lovely pooch could be one who breaks the rules (and I bet not the only one!)
When your dog constantly barks, it can become a problem not only for you but also for your neighbours and visitors.
“It’s best to nip puppy barking early, but even older dogs can be trained not to bark excessively.”Dr Karen Becker, an integrative veterinarian.
So, if you are having trouble with excessive barking, here’s a simple, step by step guide to training your pooch to stop barking:
- Rule out boredom.
- Remove the barking trigger.
- Ignore your dog when barking.
- Teach your pooch the “quiet” command.
#1 – Rule Out Boredom
First of all, rule out boredom being the cause by making sure your pooch is getting plenty of exercise, including playtime. Lack of physical and mental stimulation could be the root of excessive barking.
Here are my recommendations in this area:
- To know if your Boston is getting enough exercise, head over to our How Much Exercise Do Boston Terriers Need? blog post for age-specific advice.
- Next, go through Dog Exercise Indoors and Dog Exercise Outdoors for ideas on different activities in both environments.
#2 – Remove The Barking Trigger
Next, find out your dog’s barking trigger, i.e., the source of what he may be anxious about. Although you might think that he’s barking randomly, there’s always a cause. For example, it could be the vacuum cleaner or the postman.
Once you’ve identified the trigger, you need to train your dog to stop associating the trigger with barking. This process is called “desensitization,”, which means the process of training your pooch to be less sensitive to “something”. In this case that something is barking.
Since Boston Terriers are sensitive to negative reinforcement, a positive-reinforcement training approach works best to train your pooch not to bark. So, gradually expose your dog to the stressor and then reward him immediately when he stops barking.
Correcting unwanted behaviours like barking, licking, or simply struggling to get your dog’s attention requires patience and consistency, but it is well worth it!
Visit our Dog Training Essentials page, where you will get a 3-part mini audio series + the everyday resource used by a well-known dog trainer.
#3 – Ignore Your Dog When Barking, Praise When Quiet
If your Boston Terrier barks obsessively, here’s the “easiest way” to get him to stop:
Ignore your dog when he’s barking, and immediately reward him when he stops (all or none reward training).
The most effective way to teach your dog that barking repeatedly is not good behaviour is to cut-off attention to unwanted behaviour and pay more attention to what you want.
This means that when your doggy barks, avoid even eye-contact until he stops. But once he does, immediately reward his behaviour with treats and caresses. Also important is that you reward your dog for every other quiet and good behaviour moments, not just when he stops barking.
Insider Tip: Yelling at your barking dog will only backfire. Even negative attention can reinforce a behaviour since dogs perceive every action from you towards them as a “response”.
#4 – Teach Your Pooch the “Quiet” Command
Although Boston Terriers can be stubborn and hard-headed at times, they are not known to be hard to train. So, the next step is to teach your pooch the “quiet” command.
- Put your dog in one of those situations that makes him bark (for example, take the vacuum cleaner out).
- Wait until he stops barking.
- As soon as he does it, say “quiet”.
- Then reward him immediately with praises and a treat.
- Over time he will learn to associate the “quiet” command with being quiet.
For a quicker result, you can practise this command every time your pooch barks. Remember that consistency is key, so keep practising and rewarding your Boston!
P.S. If you want to teach your dog other tricks and also swap some unwanted behaviours like barking and licking for positive ones, check out my favourite dog training method.