The first two categories are definitely the most common types of dog barking. The first, separation anxiety, obviously occurs when you are not around. The second category may occur when you are home but will also occur when you are not. In most cases the territorial barking probably increases as you are not there to stop it and the dog may become more defensive when you are not there. Obviously to stop dog barking when you are not there is a far more difficult proposition.
Before we dive into the “how” of stopping dog barking, we need to look at the “why” of why they’re barking in the first place. There are lots of reasons dogs might bark from play to defense, but in the case of excessive barking at home it’s most often separation anxiety. If you listen carefully, you can start telling the difference between the various sounds:
Rule out medical problems. Sometimes barking is your dog’s way of indicating to you that she is injured or sick. If there is a chance that your dog might have some medical problem or injury, you should take her to see a vet as soon as possible.
Don’t bark back. Talk to your puppy with your tone of voice and body language — not just the words—to make sure he doesn’t misunderstand. Barking is also a joyful expression. Use a calm voice, or else yelling can make him think you’re joining the chorus, and he barks even louder.
Boredom: The bark of a bored dog sounds like a dog that barks just to hear her own voice. Though it tends to be annoying, it is also kind of sad. Bored dogs often bark to release excess energy, and sometimes bark out of loneliness. They usually need an activity and perhaps even a companion.
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Sometimes you can tell whether the type of bark is a play bark or anxious bark. A play bark is usually made while the dog has loose, relaxed body language. An anxious dog has ears back and the whites of the eyes are showing. If your dog barks only when you go out, he may have separation anxiety.
I have tried one of the white triangular anti-bark collars that say they use ultra sound. It was the biggest waste of money. (and it was only $3 on e-bay) It has a high pitched tone when the dog barks (can be heard by humans) and another Ultra-sonic sound (that can also be heard by humans.)
Call animal control to report abuse. If you believe the barking is a result of neglect or another of abuse, you have the right to call animal control. If the dog is being severely abused it will be confiscated from the owner, but in most cases animal control won’t take the dog away. Instead, they’ll come to assess the situation and try to educate the owners as to how to properly care for the dog.
Excessive barking due to separation anxiety occurs only when a dog’s caretaker is gone or when the dog is left alone. You’ll usually see at least one other separation anxiety symptom as well, like pacing, destruction, elimination, depression or other signs of distress. For more information about this problem, please see our article, Separation Anxiety.
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You love your dog to pieces, but is it too much to ask for them to shut up at night? If you’re trying to figure out how to stop your dog from barking at night, you know what a frustrating situation it is — especially when it seems like they are making noise for no apparent reason.
You might want to ask if anonymity is an option when you file the report. In some cases, this may not be an issue for you, especially if it’s plain-as-day that you’re the one pointing the finger thanks to previous attempts. However, if you have various upset neighbors, maintaining anonymity may be useful to prevent retaliation of any sort.
Get other neighbors to file the same complaint. If the authorities get multiple calls about the same dog owner, they’ll be more likely to take action quickly. There’s definitely strength in numbers in this situation, so rally as many people as you can to remedy the situation.
The collar wasn’t used properly and you obviously weren’t interested in the welfare of your dog if you weren’t checking how it was affecting it. Sounds like the collar was on constantly without checking to make sure it wasn’t hurting the dog. Maybe you had it turned all the way up. A lower setting barely shocks.
When your dog barks, mark the desired behavior with the click! of a clicker or a verbal marker, such as the word “Yes!”, and feed him a treat. Repeat this until he’ll bark on just the cue, without the trigger. Then practice in different environments until the “bark on cue” behavior is well generalized. When his “bark on cue” is well established, you can follow it with a “quiet!” cue, so you’ll be able to turn the bark off when you want.
Continue to recruit people to help you practice “Go to Your Spot” exercises until your dog reliably goes to his spot and stays there until you release him by saying “Okay.” At this point, your dog should be able to perform his new “Go to Your Spot” skill perfectly about 90 percent of the time during training sessions. The hardest part for your dog will be going to his spot and staying there in real-life situations, when he hasn’t been able to do a few warm-up repetitions. To prepare your dog for times when real visitors arrive, ask friends who already know your dog well to drop by randomly when you’ll be home. Then ask friends who don’t know your dog well to drop by. With plenty of practice, your dog will be able to go to his spot and stay there, even when neither of you knows who’s at the door!
Identify a place in your home where you’d like your dog to go when people come to the door. If possible, choose a place that’s at least eight feet away from the front door but still within sight. It might be a spot at the top of a set of stairs, inside the doorway of an adjacent room, your dog’s crate, or a rug positioned at the far corner of an entryway or foyer.
This is a common behavior for herding dogs – the cheerleaders and “fun police” of the canine world. As other dogs (or humans) romp and play, the play-barker runs around the edges, barking, sometimes nipping heels.
For the come command, you can call your dog to you and ask for a down. When your dog is focused on you, they are less likely to bark at something else. You can find instructions on how to train your dog to come here.
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.
Now I should point out that this barking is NOT “naughty behavior” as many people think, nor has it anything to do with boredom which is why using a shock collar to try to stop this behavior is such a cruel idea. Let me explain.
Does your dog bark at the doorbell? Do you not even have a door bell, but your dog barks at ones on TV? Does your dog bark at car horns? When certain people come over? All these things and more! can be addressed with training and desensitization. They do not just up and go away on their own. You have to work at it. My next blog post will be a How to – Desensitization.
Please note that there there are instances of excessive barking for which it is a good idea to seek the advice of a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, a Veterinary Behaviorist, or a Certified Professional Dog Trainer first.
In situations such as when the postman or visitors come to the door or a phone rings and your dog becomes very vocal, teaching them to perform a behaviour that simply takes your dog’s mind off barking should do the trick.
After several weeks, you should progress to practicing out-of-sight stays at an exit door. But even then, it’s best to use an alternate door (if possible) than the one you typically use to leave for work. For example, instead of going out the front door or the door to the garage, try going out the back door.
Giving Warning: Dogs bark to warn their pack of danger and to keep intruders away. Most creatures will think twice before approaching a dog that comes running up making loud barking noises. In nature, the bigger the sound, the better.
Gradually lengthen the duration of time she must be quiet before getting the treat. Eventually, she should reach a point where simply saying the word “quiet” without showing her a treat will elicit a silent response.
Dogs that are lonely and that cannot have fun can end up barking way too much because of boredom. We already established that. If you often find yourself away from home because of work or different commitments, you can consider getting another dog. Most pet owners stay away from getting the second one because they are emotionally attached to the one that they have now. While this is completely understandable, we have to think about his well-being and his desires.
Barking does not always require a big interrupter, however. You can use everyday objects. If your dog barks near to you, slam the cupboard door or a drawer, so the noise distracts or startles him. Make nothing of this, and carry on as normal. This can work especially well when a dog barks simply to be let out of a crate. You don’t want to scare the dog, just quickly alter his state of mind and change the focus. He should not see you launch the object or make the noise. He has to think that the unwanted barking creates the occurrence. Practice this while you are watching TV, working in the kitchen or whatever you’re doing – the dog should not relate it to you but to the nuisance barking. An important part of this is that if you do drop or throw an object it should not hit the dog, but land at his feet. You should also leave it there for a while so he does not relate it to you. Remember though that you have to be able to understand and translate the different barks. One of his barks may be – I need to go to the bathroom. So learn to understand the tone of the bark or noise he makes.
Amy grew up in England and in the early 1990’s moved to North Carolina where she completed a bachelors degree in Psychology in 2001. Amy’s personal interest in writing was sparked by her love of reading fiction and her creative writing hobby. Amy is currently self employed as a freelance writer and web designer. When she is not working Amy can be found curled up with a good book and her black Labrador, Jet.