How To Stop Your Boston Terrier From Attention Barking

Does your Boston Terrier bark at you just to get your attention? Bella will literally sit right in front of us and bark for our attention, or growl. 

Another time Bella will bark at me is just when I’m walking around the house.

Boston Terrier Attention Barking
Bella looking good!

Here some reasons why your Boston Terrier might be barking at you and what you can do about it…

Attention Barking And What You Can Do About It

What is attention barking?

If your dog barks or whines while you are on the phone, watching tv, or while having a conversation in order to get affection, play with a toy, or for food/ treats then you may have yourself an attention seeker. 

This can be cute at first that they want your attention and affection, but it can quickly become a little annoying. 

How does attention barking get started? 

It stems from dogs getting positive feedback. They will do one behavior, like bark or whine and when they get the result they desire, they have learned that this is the way things are done.

Are Boston Terriers excessive barkers?
Here is a poll on the Boston Terrier Society’s Facebook Page

We have owned Bella for over 10 years, and I will say that she does not excessively bark. 

She may seek attention from time to time, but overall her lack of barking is one of the many qualities I love about her. 

After polling other Boston Terrier owners, the overwhelming results are that Boston Terriers are not excessive barkers. 

Why is my Boston Terrier barking at me?

Barking is one form of communication for dogs and serves a variety of functions.

For each type of barking, there may be a different motivation behind the behavior.

Here is a cute Boston Terrier puppy howling.

For instance, over the years we have been able to differentiate Bella’s various types of barks based on the sound or pitch.

So here is why your Boston may be barking (source)… 

Greet Barking

Greet barking is barking at other people or other dogs to say hello. They may whine sometimes, but in general, they will seem excited, happy and relaxed. 

Bella may be a little antisocial but she does not greet bark at other dogs. 

We can go on walks and she will look at other dogs and generally walk right on by. 

On the other hand, when we have visitors that she knows well, like my inlaws or siblings she gets super excited and will bark or whine. 

Territorial Barking

Territorial barking is excessive barking when another dog is in or near your home or what they deem to be their territory. 

For example the car, home, yard, normal walking route, and places they may spend a lot of time.

Alarm Barking

Alarm barking is when your dog is excessively barking in response to sights and sounds regardless of context. 

The difference between territorial verse alarm barking is that it is not tied to location. 

Alarm baking can happen anywhere, not just where the dog spends a lot of time. Their body language with alarm barking is usually tense or stiff. 

They may appear on edge and actually hop a little with the barking. 

Social Barking

Social instigated barking reminds me of the “sound the alarm” scene in the 101 Dalmatians where they are in the park and are reporting the puppies missing. 

Pongo sounding the alarm with social barking.

Some dogs will bark when they hear other dogs barking even from a distance. 

Frustrated Barking

Frustrated barking is different from attention-seeking barking. 

When they are frustrated, it is more from being separated or restricted from something like when they are in their kennel or on a chain.

For instance, my father in law will tie up his dog when he goes horse-riding so that he does not follow and go into the street or traffic. 

His dog will bark and whine out of frustration of missing out. 

Compulsive Barking

Compulsive barking is, in my opinion, the most challenging. It’s a habitual bark. 

This is repetitive barking, that can be triggered by something like running back and forth along a fenceline.

Other Causes

Other causes of barking that may need to be addressed would be an ill or injured dog and one that is barking due to separation anxiety. 

Bella when we moved homes 5 years ago she started to have some separation anxiety and was having panic attacks in her crate

It was the saddest thing. 

We would leave and she would freak out and we had no idea until she was getting small injuries on her face and mouth. 

Finally, one day we came home and from the front door, we could hear her whaling so loudly. I looked at my wife and we both asked: “is that Bella?”

We talked to our vet and had to stop putting her in the crate because she was self-harming and over time she did better with being left out. 

Here is a Boston barking because it wants its friend to play.

What are some techniques I can use to stop my Boston Terrier from barking at me?

Of course, we want to try to determine the underlying motivation and type of barking to understand why, who, or what is triggering your pet to bark. 

Not all barking is excessive or “bad”, but we do want to make sure they are barking for the right reasons.

Emily and I really liked using Cesar Milan for references on how to help “train” Bella. These are some of his techniques as well as others.


Gently close your dog’s mouth 

One of the ways to stop your Boston Terrier from barking is gently and calmly holding its mouth if you feel comfortable doing so. 

You can also use a gentle leader harness when walking if they are barking at other dogs while walking. 

Have your dog bring you a toy

Another tip would be to give your dog something to do by asking him to bring you a toy. 

This can be a form of distraction that will help prevent excess barking. 

Just be cautious not to give the toy to your Boston while they are barking as they may see this as a reward for barking. 

Cause distraction

Using another form of distraction, like making noise or dropping something on the floor to break the cycle of barking may be helpful.

Bark on command

You can train your dog to “speak” on command and to be “quiet” on command. Using treats when he is being quiet is the key.

Wait until he has been quiet for a few minutes before giving the treat or giving affection. 

Teach Your Boston Terrier Puppy How To Shake: Video & Guide
Giving Bella a treat.

To practice this, have someone go outside and ring the doorbell, this will initiate the barking or you can bark yourself and they can join in with you. This is teaching them to “speak”. 

Then you want to teach them to be quiet, either with command or distraction technique and reward the quiet behavior following. 

Crate training

During crate training, you may want to cover the crate with a blanket or cover. 

This can help calm your dog and comfort it so it may not be so anxious or frustrated. 

Doing this helped Bella when she was learning to kennel. 

We also gave her some of her favorite toys while in there to keep her company. 

Listen and learn the sounds your dog makes. This will help when trying to differentiate if they need to use the restroom or are in distress. 

Bark collars

We have never used a bark collar on any of our pets. I know family members and friends that have. 

Some collars emit a noise, blast of air with fragrance, or electric stimulation. They can work. 

I would recommend using the noise and air bark collars before resorting to the electric stimulator. If you need help and nothing is working, prior to using the electrical stimulator, I would recommend consulting your vet and or trainer


When it comes to attention-seeking barking, the short answer is to ignore the barking. Do not yell at them, this is attention. No talking, no eye contact, no touching.

A boston terrier ignoring its owner.
Bella ignoring me.

Then when they are calm and displaying behavior that you like, that is when we can give them all our affection. 

Personally, this has worked for us, yet I am a work in progress.

I am not as consistent as my wife about not giving into Bella’s attention-seeking. This is easier said than done. The answer is in being consistent

A word of caution, ignoring the barking may not work when out in the open, but more if in the crate or an enclosed area where you can remove the stimuli that may be the source of the barking. 

Final thoughts…

When it comes to barking, our Boston Terriers are trying to communicate. 

We want to make sure they are barking for the right reasons, and understand their underlying motivation. 

Try to learn the different types of barking to understand why, who, or what is triggering your pet to bark. 

There are a variety of techniques to try to stop your Boston Terrier from barking. Some may work and some may not. 

You will have to customize your techniques for your pet. 

My best advice would be to stay consistent, it will decrease the frustration to both you and your Boston to eliminate any unwanted barking. 

Give Your Boston Terrier Exactly What They Want! 

A totally customized box of themed toys and treats for your Boston every month. Plans start as little as $22.00 per month. 

Start by going to the BarkBox website and entering your Boston’s name, weight, breed, birthday, allergies, and email.

No worries! If your Boston isn’t 100% happy with their BarkBox, they’ll work with you to make it right. 

No muss, no fuss, no disappointed pups.

Donnie Gardner

Donnie Gardner is the owner of the Boston Terrier Society. He has been raising Bella the Boston since 2010. He resides in Kansas with his wife, daughter, and Bella. His favorite activities are hanging out with family, traveling, running (but has bad knees), and reading non-fiction books.

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