What a shame to see you suggesting cruel methods such as citronella collars. Punishing and/or scaring a dog for barking is cruel and does not address the root issue(s). You should be encouraging people to actually _train_ their dogs (using scientifically valid, humane, force-free methods).
Do your neighbors who get barked at have predictable patterns? The neighbor’s little yippie pup gets let our everyday at 12:20 when the Dad comes home for lunch. This can get my dogs going. You can bet my dogs are not in the yard at that time. No need to have a bark off if you can avoid it. Some dogs would do well to avoid being out and about at certain times. For some dogs that means avoiding before and after work times. Know your hood.
Do not encourage your dog to bark at sounds, such as pedestrians or dogs passing by your home, birds outside the window, children playing in the street and car doors slamming, by saying “Who’s there?” or getting up and looking out the windows.
Your ﬁrst step is to gently inform your neighbor that her dog is barking excessively, and when. This is best done during the day, not with an irate phonecall when the dog wakes you up at two o’clock in the morning again. Assume she’s not aware of it, or at least not aware it’s disturbing to her neighbors.
When your dog starts barking, ask him to do something that’s incompatible with barking. Teaching your dog to react to barking stimuli with something that inhibits him from barking, such as lying down in his bed.
Why am I telling you this? Well, barking has to be the most annoying behaviour problem that is suffered by dog owners and neighbours alike. However, Karina in Copenhagen will be the first to tell you that she is glad that her dogs bark. Of course, it helps that she knows what to do to get them to stop barking so they do not become a neighbourhood nuisance. Here’s what she does… Are you ready?
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.
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.
If you feel you do not have the time or the money to train your dog, I urge you for your own sake and the sake of others around you to really consider whether a dog is right for you at this point in your life. Owning a dog in many ways is similar to having a child, as you are responsible for the dog’s welfare and are there to be the dog’s companion as well as his provider. This is not a light responsibility, and lasts for rest of your pet’s life.
Once your dog is reliably going to his spot, vary where you are when you send him there. Practice asking him to go to his spot from many different angles and distances. For example, say “Go to your spot” when you’re standing a few steps to the left of it. After a few repetitions, move a few steps to the right of the spot and say, “Go to your spot” from that position. Then move to another area in the room, then another, etc. Eventually, practice standing by the front door and asking your dog to go to his spot, just as you might when visitors arrive.
Introduce training early, and start the quiet and place commands as soon as they can understand them. This type of positive conditioning will help ensure that your dog never becomes a problem barker in the first place.
You can manage alarm barking by reducing the dog’s exposure to the inciting stimuli. Perhaps you can baby gate him out of the front room, move the sofa away from the windows so he can’t jump up and see out, or close the drapes.
When training your dog to stop barking, you should set up training exercises rather than waiting for the mailman to ring the doorbell. Begin training by doing the basics like come and stay (check out my other blog posts in the links). Be sure to reward your dog generously so that he knows to pay attention to you. Have a friend or family member do something that would typically trigger dog barking – like knock on the door. See if you can get your dog’s attention. The second he looks or even glances at you, reward him. If you can’t get your dog to stop barking after the trigger, take some steps backward. Wait until you can get your dog to do the simple tasks, like come and stay. Then, have your training partner lightly knock on the door or even tap the door with a finger. If you can get your dog’s attention, reward liberally! This may take several training session, so stick with it! Within a few weeks, you should be able to stop your dog barking!
Gradually get your dog accustomed to whatever is causing him to bark. Start with the stimulus (the thing that makes him bark) at a distance. It must be far enough away that he doesn’t bark when he sees it. Feed him lots of good treats. Move the stimulus a little closer (perhaps as little as a few inches or a few feet to start) and feed treats. If the stimulus moves out of sight, stop giving your dog treats. You want your dog to learn that the appearance of the stimulus leads to good things (treats!).
Let’s look at this from the dog’s point of view. A dog in the home is in its den, and there are often potential threats passing by (anything could be a problem seeing as they are in a world they don’t really understand). Often, dogs will bark at the passing person/dog/bike/car/hot air balloon (this last one comes from personal experience a few years ago in the Netherlands). How many dog owners thanks their dogs for letting them know? What is the usual response to a dog barking? It’s OK, there is no need to tell me; I may not understand Dutch but I can tell if someone is happy or not…
You can also prevent undesirable behavior by reducing the chances of those situations arising. For example, if your dog barks for your help whenever her ball rolls underneath the couch, try putting something under the couch to block her toys from rolling under there.
Once he stops barking, call him to you, praise him, and fulfill his request, as long as it’s reasonable. However, if he is barking for food, do not reward him with food, treats, chews etc. This will simply reinforce begging and instead of barking, he will switch to pawing at you or some other attention getting behavior.
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I should add here that many years ago (when I was pretty new to dog training) I used to think that barking could all be sorted out with the same approach. Now I’m a few years older and wiser (hee hee), and I can see the error of my ways.
Dogs feel the owner’s energy. If the owner is mad, the dog will get mad. If the dog owner is calm, he will end up calming himself. Whenever trying to talk to the dog in order to get him to stop barking, you have to be calm and assertive. This is easier said than done but if you manage to tell your dog a simple command like “Quiet” in a calm voice tone, he will understand that something is wrong.