Dogs tend to act up when they get bored. To eliminate barking from boredom or frustration, make sure your pup is getting sufficient physical and mental exercise every day. Click here to see 5 great ways you can stimulate your dog.
Indoors, leave the curtains or blinds closed, or use spray-on glass coating or removable plastic film that makes windows opaque. This affordable static cling window film lets the light in, but blurs and blocks sights from outside.
Relieve the boredom. Many pups bark because they’re lonely or bored. Even if the pup has nothing to bark about, talking to himself may be better than listening to lonely silence. Chew toys that reward the puppy’s attention with tasty treats also fill up the mouth — he can’t bark and chew at the same time. Puzzles toys like the Kong Wobbler can be stuffed with peanut butter, or kibble treats that your pup must manipulate to reach the prize.
If your dog’s barking has got to the stage where you are considering using a bark collar, before you do, please speak to a qualified behaviourist. You can contact one through your vet, or visit the Animal Behaviour and Training Council website. If you rehomed your dog from Blue Cross, simply get in touch with the centre you rehomed your pet from for free, expert behavioural advice.
Teach your dog that when someone comes to the door or passes by your property, he’s permitted to bark until you say “Quiet.” Allow your dog to bark three to four times. Then say “Quiet.” Avoid shouting. Just say command clearly and calmly. Then go to your dog, gently hold his muzzle closed with your hand and repeat “Quiet.” Release your dog’s muzzle, step away, and call him away from the door or window. Then ask your dog 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 your dog resumes barking right away, repeat the sequence above. Do the same outside if he barks at passersby when he’s in the yard.
Remove the audience. If she barks and you come running every time, you reward the behavior. Instead, thank her then say, “HUSH.” When she stops, you should praise and give her a treat. If she keeps barking, turn your back and leave the room. Most dogs want company, so leaving tells her she’s doing something wrong. She’ll learn to be quiet if she wants you to stay and give her attention.
Who among us hasn’t smiled at our dogs howling at the sound of a ﬁre truck siren speeding past? The howl, which sometimes speaks of a dog’s distress, is also a communal conversation. Dogs often howl in groups, and some owners delight in teaching their dogs to howl on cue, by howling – or singing – themselves. “Group howl” is a popular activity of wild dogs, and of many humans around the campﬁre at dog camps. Try it – you and your dog might enjoy it!
Seriously, electric shock collars may not be illegal in the United States yet, but they should be. Electric shock, especially for a natural function such as barking, is cruel. I am certain that using this type of device does cause dogs to experience unnecessary anxiety and stress. In fact, people training dogs to be vicious for illegal dog fights also use electric shocks, that should tell you what a terrible idea this is.
For treatment of territorial barking, your dog’s motivation should be reduced as well as his opportunities to defend his territory. To manage your dog’s behavior, you’ll need to block his ability to see people and animals. Removable plastic film or spray-based glass coatings can help to obscure your dog’s view of areas that he observes and guards from within your house. Use secure, opaque fencing to surround outside areas your dog has access to. Don’t allow your dog to greet people at the front door, at your front yard gate or at your property boundary line. Instead, train him to go to an alternate location, like a crate or a mat, and remain quiet until he’s invited to greet appropriately.
While Dr. Rachel Barrack of Animal Acupuncture explains that there is not always a universal cause for night barking, loneliness remains one of the top triggers she sees in dogs that can’t seem to settle down. Dr. Barrack says, “Dogs are pack animals, so if left alone in another room at night, they may bark to try and get attention. Allowing your dog to sleep in your room should help to eliminate barking due to separation anxiety. If sleeping in your bedroom isn’t an option, maybe you need another dog for a source of companionship.”
Punishment is generally frowned upon in the veterinary behavior community, but at least in this case the punishment is not too traumatic and it does help your dog not to do the behavior. In some cases where you have received noise complaints from the neighbours, it can be a quick fix. The citronella collar and shock collar are two devices that punish the bark and are unreliable and can lead to learned helplessness. They can go off randomly while the dog is not barking and even when they work correctly, the dog usually has no idea what he is receiving punishment for.
Block scary sounds. Inexperienced pups hear lots of “new” stuff that may inspire barking. When barking arises from fear, the pheromone product Comfort Zone with D.A.P. may help relieve the angst. White noise machines are available to mask sounds, or simply turn the radio to a normal volume and tune it to static.
If you want to find out more about what makes your dog tick, and what to do about any unwanted behaviour you may be experiencing, then The Dog Listener by Jan Fennell (my Mum) is available at your local library, online and in all good bookstores. If you would like more hands-on help, let me know.
All content on this site is provided for informational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be nor can it be considered actionable professional advice. It must not be used as an alternative to seeking professional advice from a veterinarian or other certified professional.