Patrick has been a long-time dog adopter and currently lives with his two dogs – Tarzan and Loki – in Brooklyn, NY. He is a certified dog trainer, writer on all things dogs, animal shelter volunteer, freelancer researcher of animal sciences and aspiring author.
Teaching replacement behaviors may be time consuming, but ultimately it is the best way to encourage desirable behavior. Instead of responding to your dog’s vocal requests to play, for example, teach her to bring her favorite toy to you and set it on the floor.
Create distractions. With some dogs it does require an interrupter or distraction to take their mind off of the stimulus to bark. In other words, there has to be something that breaks the concentration on the barking. In some cases the intensity is too high for a verbal command to cut through the behavior. The interrupter in that case may be another noise, such as using a tool that emits a high frequency sound when the dog barks. This is not a pleasant sound to the dog and interrupts his barking. A beanbag, a piece of chain and even a can with pebbles or coins in it, can provide the interruption too. It works like this – the dog barks and this loud object lands on the floor in front of him. You act as though it came from “Heaven.” Now he thinks every time he barks for no reason or if he continues unnecessarily, something falls from the sky.
Territorial/Protective: When a person or an animal comes into an area your dog considers his territory, that often triggers excessive barking. As the threat gets closer, the barking often gets louder. Your dog will look alert and even aggressive during this type of barking.
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.
If you do decide to take this approach, you’ll need to make sure you don’t expose your pet to the ‘real’ sound while you are training them. Pick a time when you aren’t expecting visitors and pop a note on your front door asking visitors not to knock.
Then one day you decided not to get up and ignore the barking thinking this would nip the behavior in the bud. It did not work, your dog very likely barked even more than before. Why is this? It is because of the process of ”extinction burst”. Basically, your dog is thinking ”My owners this morning are not getting up as usual. I need to INCREASE, my barking in intensity and duration so they get up since just barking a little is not working”. She therefore barked more and perhaps you or somebody else in your family finally tired of hearing her, finally got up.
First of all we have to identify WHY your dog is barking, because the solution we use is not always going to be the same. After all, you’d never use the same approach to stop a child who was shouting out for help as a child who was screaming at you for more chocolate, now would you?
Try to agree on a concrete solution. Rather than expecting your neighbor to put a stop to all barking, it might be more feasible to agree on a practical solution that works for both of you. Here are a few solutions that might apply; you can adapt them to your situation as necessary:
He continues, “As I have always stated, the completion of the bad behavior is a reward. So you letting your dog play out actions like barking is actually reinforcing it to your dog. It also makes sense that the longer your dog has had this problem, quite often the more difficult it will be to correct.”
Desensitize your dog to solitude. If your dog has moderate to severe separation anxiety, she most likely will not be cured overnight. A good way to get your dog more accustomed to solitude is to gradually desensitize her to being left alone and reinforce the fact that getting ready to leave does not mean abandonment. This is a slow process that will take several weeks of practice and consistency, but should prove effective for long-term results.
Have a treat ready every time your friend comes to the door. Even if you’ve passed the point of giving treats during regular training, you may need to use treats for applied training sessions involving an actual perceived intruder.
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.
Try to keep meeting and greeting under control. When you or a family member comes home, ignore your dog for the first couple minutes. When people come to the door, teach your dog to sit and wait until the person comes to him; this will bring control and anticipation to the greeting rather than barking.
The no-bark collar has received quite a few critics whose points should be brought to light. Bark collars, while they discourage problem barking can also discourage all barking in some more sensitive dogs. On the topic of sensitive dogs it is also true that dogs can be particularly sensitive to one type of bark collar or another so it is recommended that you discuss all of your options with your vet prior to using a bark collar. For some dogs the shock collar is too painful, while others seem to be unaffected by it. For some dogs that still have the natural instinct to disguise their scent the citronella bark collar can start the dog rolling on the floor trying to disguise their scent with the citronella. For some dogs the ultrasound noise just does not deter the dog from barking so it really is beneficial to know your dog and know your options when it comes to using a bark collar on your dog.
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