Some people don’t recognize that petting a dog in the middle of barking, in the dog’s mind, is rewarding their behavior. You may think that you’re calming them down, but you’re really reinforcing that response. Remember, don’t reward what you don’t want repeated.
Be patient. It takes a lot of training and practice to get your dog comfortable with prolonged absences. Most of an anxious dog’s undesirable behavior will take place within the first 40 minutes that you’re gone, and it will take many, many training sessions before you can comfortably reach a 40 minute absence.
Before you can stop a dog from barking, it’s helpful to understand why he’s doing it. Dogs bark for all sorts of reasons, but it’s all a method of communication, says certified canine trainer and behaviorist Susie Aga, owner of Atlanta Dog Trainer.
Hate to burst your bubble but you cannot determine why a dog barks as they are NOT human and cannot tell you why or more importantly, how I can help him stop. All of my dogs (labs) were trained and raised by me. Now that I decided to take on a Rescue Lab, I am taking on someone else’s horrendous lack of training and a major problem they caused. He barks at everything and goes from 0 to 1,000 and scares the living heck out of everyone. From someone just walking outside to any vehicle he can here drive by. Any type of delivery truck including the mail man he turns into Cujo. He’s 3, was locked in a crate in an unfinished basement for the first 3 years of his life. NO Social skills and is very skittish. I know he’s barking because someone screwed him up from every angle, but one thing is for sure, I can’t ask him why he’s barking and how I can help him stop. I need to continue working on him and a bark collar will be my last resort.
Eventually your dog will learn to be quiet on command without getting a treat. Even after you’ve reached this stage of training, however, you should still give your dog verbal praise when she stops barking.
Compulsive barkers bark just to hear the sound of their own voices. As with dogs suffering from separation anxiety, they will often make repetitive movements, such as running in circles or pacing along a fence.
So here are the four most common reasons that dogs and puppies bark. It’s not a comprehensive list but most dogs and puppies will fall into one of these categories. Once you’ve decided which one best describes YOUR dog, then take a look at the action plan to put an end to it once and for all.
Dogs can bark excessively in response to people, dogs or other animals within or approaching their territories. Your dog’s territory includes the area surrounding his home and, eventually, anywhere he has explored or associates strongly with you: your car, the route you take during walks and other places where he spends a lot of time.
Very often we push things too fast and do not realise that our dogs are struggling with the speed that we are progressing. Then things fall apart and we all get stressed. By slowing the training down, dogs relax more and start to succeed!
You can also teach your dog to be silent on command. This will help strengthen the association between quiet behavior and attention or rewards. Your dog should always be quiet before receiving attention, play or treats. By giving your dog a guaranteed method of getting attention, he’s no longer forced to bark for attention. Regularly seek your dog out to give him attention—sweet praise, petting and an occasional treat—when he’s not barking.
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.
Most people try this but they make a crucial mistake. They yell at the dog or simply use a tone of voice that is really bad. The main thing remember here is that you want to show the dog that what he is doing is wrong. You do not do this by shouting. In fact, when the dog hears you shout, he might become even more impatient and may end up barking even louder.
If you find this technique too slow you can try the reverse direction method. When your dog pulls, issue a ‘Let’s Go’ cue, turn away from him and walk off in the other direction, without jerking on the leash.
The next step in “Go to Your Spot” training is to recruit friends and family to help you conduct mock practice visits. Arrange to have someone come to the door. You will work with your dog to help him stay on his own. Be prepared! This will probably take a long time the first few visits. When you open the door, one of two things can happen. Sometimes you leave your dog there on his spot while you talk to the person at the door, as if your visitor is a courier or delivery person. Your dog never gets to say hello. (However, you, the person or both of you should frequently toss treats to your dog to reward him for staying.) At other times, invite the visitor in. Wait until the person sits down somewhere, and then release your dog to join you and your guest. When you have a friend help you with a mock visit, be sure to repeat the scenario over and over, at least 10 to 20 times. Practice makes perfect! Have the person come in for 5 to 10 minutes or just pretend to deliver something, then leave for 5 to 10 minutes, then return for a second visit, and so on. Your dog should experience at least 10 visits in a row with the same person. With each repetition, it will become easier for him to do what you expect because he’ll be less excited by the whole routine—especially when it’s the same person at the door, over and over again.
If you have a problem barker make an appointment with your veterinarian. Many vets have additional qualifications or a special interest in behavior, so it is worth asking whether one of the vets has a special interest in behavior. Often there are health conditions that could be exacerbating the problem, such as dementia, pain, vision or hearing problems.
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.
With technological advances, it is now possible to tech out your house to make you and your dog’s life easier when it comes to excessive barking. While many choose to use anti-bark dog collars, there are also less stressful options that may work just as well. So if you’re having a hard time learning how to get a dog to stop barking, maybe some of these gadgets will help:
If your dog most often barks territorially in your car, teach him to ride in a crate while in the car. Riding in a crate will restrict your dog’s view and reduce his motivation to bark. If crating your dog in your car isn’t feasible, try having your dog wear a head halter in the car instead. (Important note: For safety reasons, only let your dog wear the halter when you can supervise him.)
You should be able to tell from your dog’s body language and behavior whether he’s barking to say “Oh, boy! Visitors! I love visitors!” or “You best be moseying along!” The first example is a greeting bark, covered later in this article. If your dog seems to display more aggressive behavior, he believes he is protecting his territory and/or defending you and your family from intruders.
Some jurisdictions will act on anonymous complaints, while others require your name and address but won’t reveal this to the neighbor complained about. Check the public or private status of making a complaint before making it.