We tend to think of barking as a generally undesirable behavior. ln fact, there may be times when you want your dog to bark. lf you routinely walk or jog with your dog in areas where you might be accosted by unwelcome strangers, a controlled bark from your dog might serve as a useful deterrent. You know your dog is barking on cue, but the potential mugger doesn‘t, and likely assumes your dog‘s willing to back up his bark with a bite.
You want some control over your dog’s voice, but don’t lose sight of the value of his vocal communications; he may be trying to tell you something important. If you ignore him you might find your horses on the highway, the house burned to the ground, or Timmy in the well.
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 some 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.
Self Identification: Dogs also bark to say, “Hey, I’m over here!” They usually do this in response to hearing their owner or when they notice another dog barking in the distance. Like wolves, they may also do this to let other dogs know that this house is their domain and to stay away. Or, they may vocalize to call other dogs over to them.
The sound of barking dogs in the neighborhood can quickly go from nuisance to nightmare, especially when you are trying to sleep or concentrate. If you are comfortable with it, try politely approaching your neighbor to discuss the matter, or write a direct but civil letter. You may try gently suggesting a local dog trainer or behaviorist. Many people prefer to contact the neighborhood association or another group to act as a moderator. As a last resort, you may need to call the police. However, keep in mind how this could be detrimental to your future relationship with your neighbors. On the other hand, you may not even care about that after a certain amount of sleep deprivation.
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.
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.
Make arrangements for a friend or family member to watch your dog while you’re gone. Most dogs only experience separation anxiety if they are left completely alone. In other words, having anyone there will usually help.
Understandably, if your dog is barking because he is anxious, this will really add to his problems. Citronella collars require you to buy replacement cartridges frequently, so can be much more expensive than consulting a veterinary behaviorist.
Remember, to a dog barking is often an escalation of other forms of communication. Therefore, just like you don’t want to reward a puppy for barking to get your attention, you also don’t want to reward them for lesser forms of negative noises like whining or growling.
You can solve this problem through management. If your dog likes to sit on the window sill and bark at everyone passing by, first block access to their vantage point and then offer them an alternative, more appropriate pastime.
However, that doesn‘t mean the dog never chooses to sit of his own accord. Dogs sit all the time! The above rules apply only during actual training sessions. Having a behavior on cue and under stimulus control does not mean the dog will never choose to do the behavior on his own, or be triggered to offer the behavior by some other stimulus.
Dogs are super sensitive and pick up on our deepest emotions and slightest body movements. If you think of your dog as like your mirror, then you will start to understand that the calmer you are, the more chance your dog will be relaxed.
The dog might still be able to sense your presence by hearing or smelling you, so if barking persists, it may be time to introduce yourself to the pup so it knows you’re not a threat. Ask your neighbor if you can meet their dog and make friends. If the dog doesn’t see you as an intruder anymore, it may not feel the need to bark when you’re around.
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If the “Quiet” procedure is ineffective after 10 to 20 attempts, then allow your dog to bark 3 to 4 times, calmly say “Quiet,” and then immediately make a startling noise by shaking a set of keys or an empty soda can filled with pennies. If your dog is effectively startled by the sound, he’ll stop barking. The instant he does, call him away from the door or window, ask him to sit, and give him a treat. If he stays beside you and remains quiet, continue to give him frequent treats for the next few minutes until whatever triggered his barking is gone. If he resumes barking right away, repeat the sequence. If this procedure doesn’t work after 10 to 20 attempts, please see our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, for information about finding a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB or ACAAB), a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB) or a Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) for guidance.
If you have problems with your dog barking while riding in the car, you must enforce stillness and/or movement restriction. This is also good for the safety of both you and your dog. A loose, excited dog in a car is a distraction and can be trouble waiting to happen.
In the “less-barking” category, the guarding breeds tend to reserve their formidable vocalizing for serious provocation. Sight hounds also lean toward the quiet side, preferring to chase their quarry rather than bark at it. Then, of course, there’s the Basenji -a somewhat primitive African breed of dog who doesn’t bark – but he sure can scream!
Your dog needs to understand when to bark and when to be quiet, and it’s your job to teach this to her. Start working on problem barking as soon as you can. The longer you wait, the harder it gets to curb the behavior.