You may have heard the suggestion that if you put a behavior such as barking on cue and have it under good stimulus control, the dog then won’t bark unless you give him the cue to speak. Here are the four rules of stimulus control:
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Warning/Alert: It is natural for a dog to bark when someone is a the door or when strangers pass the house or car. Many will bark if they sense some type of threat, proclaiming “I’m here protecting this place so don’t mess with me.” The sound of this bark is usually sharp, loud and authoritative. Honing this instinct with training can help protect your home and family.
Dogs barking excessively when left alone might not just be lonely or bored but suffer from separation anxiety. They often times exhibit other symptoms such as pacing, destructiveness, depression and might even defecate in places they know they are not allowed to.
I think I’ll start using “thank you” with our German Shepherd, Thor. He is a big talker and like Ginger, he has different ‘words’ for different things. Whining for ‘I’m lonely’, a higher pitched bark for ‘pay attention to me/play with me’ and his Big Loud Alert/Protection bark.
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.
The best way to reduce excitement/frustration barking is through basic and intermediate obedience training. “Sit/stay” and “down/stay” are commands that say to your dog he must wait until you release him to go play, for a walk, or to meet his buddy. Animal intruders, such as cats or squirrels can be curtailed using motion-activated devices or other forms of discouragement.
Busy toys: (helpful for attention seeking/demand barkers, boredom barkers and separation distress barkers) both boredom barkers and separation distress barkers benefit from having something to do when their people leave the house. Hard rubber toys that dispense treats are a great way to keep them occupied and happy when alone. They’re also great for dogs that bark for attention. For example, if your dog barks at you every time you get on the phone, give him a busy toy to keep him occupied while you make calls.
As you extend the amount of time that you’re out of your dog’s sight or behind closed doors, you should incorporate counterconditioning methods like a puzzle toy to keep her distracted. Try adding this component once you’re behind closed doors or out the back door for at least 10 to 20 seconds at a time.
I know first hand the frustration of dealing with a barking dog. Trust me, I have a Chihuahua! While inappropriate barking can make you want to pull your hair out at times, it’s important to remember that it’s a natural behavior for your pup. Barking is the way he communicates and of course he’s going to feel the need to alert you when an intruder is approaching (by “intruder” I really mean a friendly neighbor)!
One of the main benefits of the human-canine partnership is a natural ability to alert. You could say the talent for barking and guarding earned that first furry friend a place by the fire with our ancestors.
It is understandable that a dog barking all the time can be annoying and even distressing, but if this happens when you are at home and you know that your dog is barking at something outside, try thanking it instead of what you may have one before. You are letting your dog know that you are aware of the situation and (most importantly) you are calm. This is vital in encouraging a dog to calm down. If you get animated and/or annoyed, the dog feels your adrenalin level rise too. The thing it is barking at must be a problem in that case.
The answer here is obvious, and relatively easy: Bring the dog inside. Many outdoor barkers are perfectly content to lie quietly around the house all day, waiting for you to come home, and sleep peacefully beside your bed at night.
Dogs also bark if they are anxious, so medications can be used in the short-term to help your dog learn some coping skills. They need not be permanent. While there are some excellent dog trainers, there is little regulation in the industry, so skills and methods can vary. Ask your veterinarian to recommend someone if they can’t help.
Will the dog go into a barking frenzy for half an hour when you get back home from work? Your neighbors will know that you are home and they will surely not enjoy that barking. The problem in this case is that the dog is simply too excited. He loves that you are home and is simply expressing joy. Many pet owners will try to force the dog to stop barking in this case or will try to correct the behavior while being mad. This is a really bad idea.
Repeat this process until your dog learns to associate the word “quiet” with her silence. Once your dog has done this successfully on 10 or more occasions, you can begin giving the quiet command without showing her a treat. If she still complies with your command, then give her a treat. If she does not, you may need to show her the treat for several more training sessions.
The key concept is to keep control at all times. In other words DO NOT LOSE control of your dogs (think of a horse that has bolted from a stable)…a dog who is off leash and does not respond to a recall is by definition “out of control”.
My min Schnauzer starts barking,yowling and squeaking the moment you bring the lead in to the room. she doesn’t stop for almost the entire walk. She can bark for up to an hour on a walk with no dogs in sight.
For best results, vary the amount of time your dog must remain quiet before getting a treat. That way she won’t come to expect a treat after a certain duration of time, and the anticipation will keep her in quiet suspense. For example, after a few weeks of training, alternate between 20 seconds of silence, a whole minute of silence, and 30 or 40 seconds of silence.
The problem with shouting at a dog is that it thinks that you are upset as well. The problem is that it does not blame itself for your distress. It thinks that you are concerned about the threat too. Also, if you carry on shouting at your dog, it actually thinks you are joining in, thereby reinforcing its initial alert. I once met a couple whose dog would bark non-stop for 30 minutes. The only reason it stopped after a half-hour was because the wife’s voice stopped working, she screamed at it for so long.
It gives your dog the message that YOU are in charge, not them, and as explained above, it will help them stop worrying about you when you are not around. When you’re ready, you can always call them over to you, on your terms, for love and cuddles.