When your dog barks at people passing by or at the door, you will allow a limited number of barks, three or four, before giving the command “quiet.” Call your dog you or go to him and gently hold his muzzle. Repeat the command “quiet” in a calm definitive voice. Release his muzzle and call him to you and ask him to “sit.” Praise and give him a treat if he complies. If he doesn’t, repeat the steps. Continue to give him praise and treats until the people are have passed by completely or come inside your home. Use these same steps when he barks at people from the yard.
One tool that may help with this training is a head halter. It looks somewhat like a combination collar/muzzle, but it allows the dog to breath and drink. Used with supervision (never leave it on the dog when he is alone), it may have a controlling and calming effect on your walks and at home, reducing the likelihood of barking. A head halter does not replace training, rewards and praise, but is a tool to help you in your counter-bark training.
It also helps to teach your dog a specific set of behaviors to do when people come into your home so that he has fewer opportunities to alarm bark. Plus, when your dog performs his new behaviors and receives rewards, he’ll learn that people coming into his and your space is a good thing.
At DoodyCalls, we spend a lot of time with our dogs. In fact, our dog Rusty—who looks a whole lot like our mascot Doodle—sleeps right next to me at night. Although hard to wake up in the morning, once he’s up he says hello with a good morning kiss and quickly gets ready to go to work.
The goal is to get your dog used to whatever it is that’s causing the barking. For example, if your dog barks at people outside the window then sit with him as he looks out the window. When someone approaches pull out the treats, tell him “quiet,” and wait for your dog to stop barking. When he does, praise him and give him a treat. Gradually increase the time he must be quiet before giving a treat. The goal here is to get your dog to associate the stimulus with positivity (rather than barking).
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Talk to your neighbors and explain to them about your condition and see if they can come up with a solution first. If this doesn’t help, you may have to call law enforcement. If it is affecting your quality of life, this should be taken seriously.
I know this isn’t exactly on topic tonight, but I have been having issues with my young male rottweiler following my commands to go to bed at night. He is normally so well behaved and a great listener. I don’t know if it is because Ares is getting to the age where his hormones or kicking in and he doesn’t want to listen, or what. I understand that sometimes he gets bored in his crate when I have been at work, and I have let him take his favorite toy to bed with him, but tonight was a struggle to get him to bed. I was actually home all day today with him, and we had fun playing out doors and relaxing inside, but for some reason, he absolutely would not go up the stairs tonight. I had to carry him up the stairs, and mind you he is a 50-60 pound pup who is 5 months, but to do that seemed a bit extreme. Am I not being firm enough? I just don’t understand. I could have him outside going potty and he gets a whiff of something, and all I have to do is call him and he comes running. What could be so different about tonight?
If you need help teaching your dog these skills, don’t hesitate to enlist the help of a Certified Professional Dog Trainer or a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist in your area. A professional trainer can meet with you one-on-one to guide you through the process of teaching your dog to sit, stay and go to a spot on command. Please see our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, to locate one of these experts near you.
The positive interrupt is a well-programmed, highly reinforced behavior that allows you to redirect your dog’s attention back to you when she’s doing something inappropriate like barking. Ideally, you want your dog’s response to the “Over here!” cue to be so automatic – classically conditioned – that he doesn’t stop to think whether what he’s doing is more rewarding or interesting than turning his attention toward you and running to you for a treat. He doesn’t think – he just does it, the way your foot automatically hits the brake of your car when you see taillights flash in front of you on the highway.
You can use the positive interrupt to redirect a frenzy of frustration barking. If you consistently offer high value treats in the presence of frustration-causing stimuli, you can counter-condition your dog to look to you for treats when the cat strolls by (cat = yummy treats) rather than erupt into a barking fit.
Citronella collars deliver a small, short blast of citronella every time the dog barks. These types of collars have been shown to be at least as effective as electronic collars, and do not risk causing any pain or real discomfort to the dog.
While you cannot stop a healthy dog from normal shedding, you can reduce the amount of hair in your home by brushing your dog regularly. Your veterinarian or groomer should be able to recommend a specific type of brush or comb that will work best for your dog’s hair type.
Sometimes you can tell whether the type of bark is a play bark or anxious bark. A play bark is usually made while the dog has loose, relaxed body language. An anxious dog has ears back and the whites of the eyes are showing. If your dog barks only when you go out, he may have separation anxiety.
If your dog likes to play fetching games, try teaching them to retrieve a toy or other item when the situation occurs that sets them off. Asking them to “go to bed” is also something you could try as this removes them from the area that the trigger is coming from and asks them to concentrate on a neutral task that they are already familiar with.