Sarah has loved and trained both dogs and horses from a very early age. Her Staffordshire bull terrier, Mona, is trained as both a therapy dog and disaster stress relief dog. In addition, Sarah has trained her German Shepherd, Soren, as a service dog.
Toys: Separation barkers benefits from having something to do when you leave the house. A hard rubber toy, that dispenses treats are a great way to keep them happy, and their mouth busy with something other than barking. Just be careful that the toy is big enough not to be a chocking-hazard.
To better understand the process of extinction which is the process of a behavior diminishing and eventually ending, we can compare a dog’s behavior to a big fire. Giving in to a behavior as barking in the morning is adding fuel to the fire. The behavior increases, becomes stronger and is harder to extinguish. If the fuel is not added, the behavior over time, will likely become smaller and easier to extinguish.
An idle dog can be a bad thing, and one of the best ways to keep your dog out of trouble is simply to keep them busy. Lots of time barking can be a sign of pent-up energy that has no other way to get out. The good news is there are lots of products to help you do this and even DIYs you can make that will engage your dog’s brain and body. Here are a few ideas you can start with without dropping a dime:
But first the good news. If your dog continues to keep you up at night, even after you have tried every humane method to calm it down, you’re far from alone. As the owner of two Chihuahuas, the notoriously “yappy” dogs, I have been woken up many a night from a deep and restful sleep for no good reason at all. In fact, Chihuahuas were named by the Houston Chronicle as one of the loudest dog breeds — along with breeds like beagles, huskies, dachshunds, terriers and basset hounds.
Watch out for extinction bursts and behavior chains. When you’re trying to make a behavior go away by ignoring it, your dog may increase the intensity of his behavior – “I WANT IT NOW!” This is an extinction burst. If you succumb, thinking it’s not working, you reinforce the more intense behavior, and your dog is likely to get more intense, sooner, the next time. If you stick it out and wait for the barking to stop, you’re well on your way to making it go away. You have to be more persistent – and consistent – than your dog.
When your dog automatically turns his attention to you in response to your cue when confronted with major real-life distractions, you have a valuable tool for interrupting his barking. Be sure you practice occasionally with mild distractions to keep the cue “tuned up”, and remember to thank him and tell him what a wonderful dog he is when he stops barking on your request.
If your dog most often barks territorially in your yard, keep him in the house during the day and supervise him when he’s in the yard so that he can’t just bark his head off when no one’s around. If he’s sometimes able to engage in excessive alarm barking (when you’re not around, for example), that behavior will get stronger and harder to reduce.
In the yard, use privacy fencing to cut off views to neighboring yards or the street. Commercial grade privacy screening installs over your existing fence and may be allowed in your rental unit. If you own your home and seek a long-term, attractive option, consider planting privacy hedges to both beautify and bark-proof the yard.
Once your dog can be comfortably left alone for 90 minutes, she will most likely be able to handle four to eight hours of solitude. However, in the early stages of that comfort level, it’s best to “test” your dog at four hours of solitude, rather than jumping right to a full work day (if possible).
I leave you with a warning. If your dog is barking while tied out, or even worse barking and chasing while out on an electric fence or even in a fenced yard, you have the makings of a time bomb. Dogs who see the world just out of their reach and are allowed to live in an aroused state are the dogs will be go after things when the opportunity arises.
When they bark, simply say something like “Thank You”, in a VERY gentle voice (rather like you would whisper in somebodies ear). Then if they continue with the barking, go and take a look out the window and again say “Thank You” again very softly, before walking away. (Now I know this may seem odd, BUT it makes total sense to your dog – I promise!)
Several variations of no-bark collars exist on the market, most of which have multiple levels of stimulation based on how quickly the dog learns. In other words, if the dog doesn’t stop, the collar will continue to provide increasing levels of shock until the dog learns. These are engaged in a manner which allows the dog to learn and recover, but the question we must ask ourselves is: How safe are these no-bark collars? Even if there’s no evidence of physical damage, are our dogs suffering unnecessary stress and anxiety through their use?
Personally I feel horrible about it but we just had to get a shock collar for our dog today. We own a town home and today our neighbor told us she called our association and reported us for his barking. He’s always been a very well behaved, easily trainable dog, so we decided to let him stay out of his crate while away since we hate having to lock him up when we leave for extended hours occasionally. Day 1: absolutely great. He stayed in the baby gated area. Day 2: did not go well at all. He escaped the area, ate the cat food, pooped all over the house, chewed up tons of things… Behavior that he has never displayed before even when left out He was put back in the crate and ever since we’ve been having issues. He tries to escape it. He’s somehow dented it and he’s only 40 pounds. Tried covering and he ate the blanket. He’s even got scratch marks on his face from trying to escape and when he does, he destroys everything. Again this is a dog that has always been happy, never barked, never chewed anything up, never misbehaved. The only naughty things he did prior was potty a couple times as a puppy and I caught him licking my pizza when I went to use the restroom… Other than that he gets nothing but compliments on his great behavior. We moved his kennel to different areas of the house. We’ve left TVs on for background noise. But nothing works. This is brand new behavior and we have had him almost 2 yrs since he was 4 months. Our neighbor constantly is complaining and calling us that he’s barking when we leave. The issue is we have only caught him 1x. We’ve definitely tried the whole routine of acting as if we’re leaving hoping we’ll catch and correct him. Putting him away and everything but quietly standing in the house for up to a half hour and heard absolutely nothing. We’ve caught him once when we came home where we could hear him outside barking from inside. Our neighbor has called us asking when we are coming home and just basically harassing us. It doesn’t help that she doesn’t work, so she is always home. We have tried numerous attempts to give him positive reinforcement taking him for walks, giving him treats, and giving him lots of love and affection before putting him in his crate. The neighbor still calls complaining. Nothing works. This is behavior that’s been going on for about six weeks. We had to get the shock collar because we really had no other choice except for let him continue then get more calls to our association and be told that we’re not allowed to have him anymore.
What seems like excessive shedding can be normal for some dogs, but it can also be the result of stress, poor nutrition or a medical problem. Your veterinarian can best determine if your dog’s hair loss is part of the normal shedding process or is a symptom of an underlying disorder. Excessive shedding can sometimes be prevented through proper nutrition. Quality pet-food manufacturers work hard to include the right amount of nutrients so that supplements are not needed, but dogs with allergies and/or sensitivities still might need to experiment with different brands and formulations to discover which food works best for them. We recommend that you consult your veterinarian for advice on what foods will best suit your dog.
The first step toward reducing your dog’s barking is to determine the type of bark your dog is expressing. The following questions can help you to accurately decide on which type of barking your dog is doing so that you can best address your dog’s problem. Think about your answers to these questions as you read through the information below on the different types of barking and their treatments.
Uncontrolled barking might be triggered by a noise or object that catches their attention and startles them. This can happen anywhere and not just at home. If it does happen at home it could possibly be part of territorial or protective barking.
One reason that it’s so easy to live with dogs is that they’re very expressive. They find a way to let us know their needs. They often do this by barking or whining. Indeed, we find it desirable when they bark to ask to go outside to eliminate or to request that their water bowl be filled. It’s less attractive, however, when your dog barks to demand anything and everything, needed or not! This pattern of barking does not happen by accident. A demanding, noisy dog has been taught to be this way, usually not on purpose! To get your dog to stop, you’ll need to consistently not reward him for barking. Don’t try to figure out exactly why he’s barking. Ignore him instead. Treatment for this kind of barking can be tough because, most of the time, pet parents unwittingly reinforce the behavior—sometimes just with eye contact, touching, scolding or talking to their dogs. To dogs, all of these human behaviors can count as rewarding attention. Try to use crystal-clear body language to tell your dog that his attention-seeking barking is going to fail. For example, when your dog starts to bark for attention, you can stare at the ceiling, turn away from your dog or walk out of the room. The instant your dog stops barking, ask him to sit and then give him what he wants, whether that’s attention, play, treats, to go outside or to come in.
Most dogs out there cannot simply stay and do nothing. They need to solve puzzles, learn new things and have their minds challenged. So many games exist for this and you can find them with a simple Google Search. You want to be sure that the dog gets the attention he needs. If you cannot offer that attention, you want to arrange someone stepping in so that the dog receives the attention. You can even hire a dog sitter if this is something that will keep the mind of the dog active.
To extinguish the behavior you must completely ignore it. Walk away, or look away and do not speak or give eye contact. Bear in mind that the behavior will temporarily increase before it improves, and you must be persistent and consistent. Try never to enter the house or yard or let your dog inside while your dog is barking, as this can easily reinforce the behavior too.
You are exactly right. People who are lucky enough to not have a dog that barks a ridiculous amount don’t know the frustration of this problem for owners and neighbor. Pretty sweet to get a dog early enough to train it not to do this. Many dog owners have dogs that have already developed constant barking and something had to be done to be fair to the neighbors who are the biggest sufferers.
What you’ve just done is checked out the danger (even if it was just a bird in a tree) and calmly communicated to them using your body language, the tone of your voice and your energy that there’s no need to worry. If they continue barking after you’ve done this then you can very calmly pop them into time out for a couple of minutes.
*Debarking is very controversial and is considered inhumane by many. It does not address the underlying cause of the barking. It is a surgical procedure in which the folds of tissue on either side of a dog’s larynx, or voice box, are removed, leaving dogs with a raspy bark instead of a full bark. Complications are common and can be life threatening, including breathing difficulties, higher incidents of choking, and ongoing pain. Dogs also have been known to regain their voices after the surgery. The procedure does not stop the barking, it only makes it sound different.