Once you determine the cause of your dog’s excessive barking, you can begin to control the behavior. The best way to prevent barking in the first place is to try and remove any potential sources of the behavior. You also want to be certain not to inadvertently encourage the barking. Finally, give her better things to do besides barking.
Ironic that I should be writing a how to get your dog to stop barking post when for the first time in my life, and after being a pro dog trainer for close to 20 years, I am living with dogs who love the sound of their own voices. Let’s meet the players, shall we.
“Debarking,” or cordectomy is an elective surgical procedure involving partial removal of a dog’s vocal cords. Debarking does not take away the dog’s ability to bark – it just makes it sound quieter and raspy (considered annoying by some). In this dog lover’s opinion, debarking surgery is unnecessary and unfair to the dog. Surgery and anesthesia are always risks, so any procedure that is purely for human convenience and does not medically benefit the patient or animal community should be avoided. In addition, excessive barking indicates an underlying issue that is usually behavioral. Surgery takes the noise away, but the anxiety, fear or similar problem remains unaddressed. Rather than debarking your dog, spend your time and money on training and/or visiting a veterinary behaviorist.
Pheromone-based treatment: (helpful for fear barkers and separation distress barkers) plug-in diffusers that mimic the “calming chemicals” given off by female dogs can help to soothe dogs that bark due to stress. While you might not see a dramatic shift in behavior – keep in mind that pheromones are different from prescribed medications – the diffusers are an easy and affordable way to take the edge off a stressful situation.
One of the main benefits of the human-canine partnership is a dog’s 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.
Saying something positive like “Thank you” or “Good dog” starts training the owner to think of barking as a positive thing, which helps the dog to calm down sooner. Remember the Dobermans in the non-burgled house?
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.
Kennel Barking: Some dogs only bark when they are confined in a kennel or back room. Most of the time, this type of barking is attention-seeking or frustrated barking. Your dog often wants you to let them out, and will continue to bark until you walk over and open the door.
Basically, the point is to redirect their focus away from barking to an activity that you can reward. You can also redirect them to a toy or a game of fetch. After all, it’s tough to bark when engaged in a fun tug session.
Be very stern with your dog and jerk it away. Keep doors or curtains closed around the time the enemy dog walks by. Consider talking to the enemy dog’s owner to see if they can change their walking route.
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If your dog is barking, do not yell at her, or pet her, or give her what she wants. Do not even look at her. The best strategy is to distract yourself, like reading a book or newspaper, until your dog calms down or tires herself out.
Here’s a list of six techniques that can help stop your dog from barking. While all of them can be very successful, you shouldn’t expect miraculous results overnight. The longer your dog has been practicing the barking behavior, the longer it will take for him to change his ways.
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.
DO NOT let your dog bark constantly outside, regardless of the reason. You can hardly train her to stop barking by yelling at her across the yard. Plus, it is one of the fastest ways to turn neighbors into enemies and send an invitation to your local police.
Stress-reducing collar – This is similar to the diffusers discussed earlier. Stress-reducing collars are loaded with soothing pheromones that will help stressed dogs calm down and reduce anxious barking.
With all of these different forms of barking there are a variety of approaches we can take to ensure the barking is for the right reason and we can prevent dog barking when the reason is no longer there. Much of this will come from the confidence the owner shows to his dog in being able to handle different situations. To gain this confidence the owner has to get to know his dog and the situations that create the barking. With this understanding, an owner can demonstrate calm, confident leadership and take control in the right way. The dog responds because he can trust the leader has taken charge. From the very beginning of our dog/owner partnership, we should be building a foundation that allows such trust and confidence. Remember that dog barking is one way the dog communicates to us, so we do not wish to prevent dog barking but we do wish to control barking as required. Learning to read your dog’s signals and means of communicating is incredibly important to your overall relationship.
Some studies suggest that the electric current from the shock collars for dogs results in aggression, stress or persistent anxiety. How severe the effects of the no-bark dog collar actually are depend on the trainer and the environment in which the collar is used.
To avoid this situation you need to leave a short or long line (as in the video above with the barking dog) on them so you can take control quickly and calmly when you need it. At the same time your dog still gets to run around.
In Nature, there are plenty of animals living in groups that have “sentinels” – members of the group looking out for potential danger while the others are at rest or playing etc. If the sentinel sees something that could be a problem, it is raise the alarm. In wild canines, the leaders will check out the problem once alerted and act accordingly. The sentinel is never punished for doing its job, just like how I was never hit by Mum for letting her know when someone was at the door.
Bark collars. And finally there are bark collars that automatically set off an interrupter when the dog wearing the bark collar barks. Some bark collars emit a noise, some bark collars a blast of air or citronella and some use an electric stimulation between two points on the collar that limit the feeling to that area. They can all work. My experience has been that the electronic one is the most successful and most important only the dog wearing it feels the interrupter. The citronella spray bark collar and the noise bark collar can be triggered if other dogs close by are barking. With any form of bark collar, however, I would recommend you seek expert advice before using one.
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.
Other off-collar devices can work well if your dog barks in a set area. Bark-activated water sprayers or noisemakers switch on when they pick up barking, shooting water at your pet or emitting an irritating sound. These can sometimes break a dog of barking in a given area, but they work best if you are home to reward your pet when he stops That helps reinforce what you want your dog to do.