Many dogs bark when they get excited or when they are frustrated by an inability to get at or do something. For example, the dog who runs through the backyard barking and whining when he hears his buddy out in the yard next door, or the dog who barks at the ball that rolled under the sofa a bit too far for him to get.
This can occur inside or outside the house. However to keep things simple let’s imagine that it’s inside the house. Your dog hears a noise and jumps up, runs over to the window and starts barking at the people outside your house.
Think of your dog as a bubble that could pop. Do you know what makes your dog pop? Most dogs just want to feel safe and need space from things that they don’t understand or scare them. Dog barks at some passing dogs on the street? Then why did you bring your dog over to sniff it’s butt? Stop doing that! Is your dog loose in the house all day getting all worked up barking at windows? Think maybe you should start by not allowing access?
Recognize compulsive/boredom barking. If your dog barks compulsively for no reason, or tends to bark when she’s left alone (in the yard, for example), she may be engaging in boredom barking. Dogs that bark when left alone may be experiencing separation anxiety, but there are usually other symptoms which accompany that problem, like destructive behavior, bathroom problems, and following you around when you’re home. Common signs of compulsive or boredom barking include:
Respected trainer and president of Legacy Canine Behavior & Training Inc, Terry Ryan, explains in her book ”The Toolbox for Building A Great Family Dog” Once you recognize what the rewards are (in your case getting up and feeding) and take them away, the behavior will likely increase immediately. This is known as an ”extinction burst”. In plain words, Gus will get worst before he gets better. It might be frustrating, but take it as a good sign. It’s working! You’ve got his number! Stay the course and the behavior will drop off over time.”.
Try to look at things from the dog’s perspective when the dog is outside. See if there is anything outside in particular he is barking at, such as rabbits, squirrel, another dog, something else you think the dog might be barking at. Then think about whether there is a way to reduce this trigger.
You can work with a trainer to practice desensitization techniques with your dog. It will help your pet become accustomed to barking triggers and ultimately be a worthwhile instrument in your toolkit when learning how to get a dog to stop barking. Remember, training takes consistency and patience, but the long-term rewards are worth it.
If you need help teaching your dog these skills, don’t hesitate to enlist the help of a Certified 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.
Dogs bark for a number of reasons, so it is important to sit back and try to determine why your dog is barking. Some dogs bark for attention, out of boredom, at people or birds and some bark because they are stressed or anxious. A dog barking due to anxiety needs a different approach to a dog who is bored.
Alarm barking does not always require a visual confirmation of the perceived intruder. Some dogs may engage in alarm barking simply from hearing a car door outside or hearing voices on the sidewalk.
There are all sorts of devices that claim to stop barking. Most of them are some sort of collar that offer a negative response when a dog barks, such as an electric shock, a spray of citronella or a burst of static electricity. Talk with a trainer or behaviorist before considering one of these devices. If used incorrectly, they can cause more problems. For example, if your dog gets shocked every time he barks at a neighbor, he could associate the pain with the neighbor instead of the barking.
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.