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.
Use training methods. Teaching your dog the “quiet” command is an excellent training technique. It will be useful for any kind of problem barking, though it may be the only option for certain behavioral problems like territorial alarm barking.
Because extinction undergoes some interesting processes, it is worth learning why the act of not getting up still causes your dog to bark or even causes it to increase in intensity and duration. This behavior can be explained as ”extinction bursts”. What happens in an ”extinction burst” is the behavior increases temporarily, enough to have dog owners believe that the act of not getting up is not working.
Several variations of no-bark collars exist on the market, of which have multiple levels of stimulation based on how quickly the dog learns. In other words, if the dog doesn’t stop, the collar will continue to provide increasing levels of shock until the dog learns. These are engaged in a manner which allows the dog to learn and recover, but the question we must ask ourselves is: How safe are these no-bark collars? Even if there’s no evidence of physical damage, are our dogs suffering unnecessary stress and anxiety through their use?
Grumbles and growls can have several meanings. Some dogs grumble and growl in enjoyment at a butt-scratch or body massage. More often, a growl is an important warning – “I don’t like you (or whatever you’re doing); please stop!” (See “Understand Why Your Dog Growls,” October 2005.)
You’ve probably never had a dog that has a penchant for barking. It is indescribably miserable, and it makes everyone around the dog miserable. We tried everything at first. Our dog is a terrier. He wants to chase and bark at every dog, squirrel, cat, or shadow that walks by our house. He sits in the window. Waits by the glass door. Goes outside and barks and chases. It’s clearly in his DNA. I can’t cover up every window or door in my house. He would be super miserable if we did.
Have your dog bring you a present. Another way to keep your dog’s mouth closed is to encourage her to bring a “present” to you, a guest, or someone in your home; or to simply to encourage him to enjoy carrying objects. Dogs that enjoy retrieving will often pick up a toy and carry it around just to show their pleasure. Naturally dogs cannot bark when they are holding a toy. But be careful not to give the toy when dog barking is in progress or the dog could mistake the toy as a reward for barking.
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.
Food puzzle toys and hollow rubber toys that can be stuffed with treats are great entertainment for dogs. They give your dog something fun to do while you are gone. Keep a couple on hand so you can leave one for him every day. It’s okay if he gets most of his meals this way. He’s working for his food!
If you prefer not to hold your dog’s muzzle or if doing so seems to scare your dog or make him struggle, you can try a different method. When your dog barks, approach him, calmly say “Quiet,” and then prompt his silence by feeding him a steady stream of tiny, pea-sized treats, such as chicken, hot dogs or bits of cheese. After enough repetitions of this sequence, over several days or more of training, your dog will begin to understand what “Quiet” means. You’ll know that he’s catching on if he consistently stops barking as soon as he hears you say “Quiet.” At this point, you can gradually extend the time between the cue, “Quiet,” and your dog’s reward. For example, say “Quiet,” wait 2 seconds, and then feed your dog several small treats in a row. Over many repetitions, gradually increase the time from 2 seconds to 5, then 10, then 20, and so on.
Do not attempt to work with a neighbor’s dog without the permission of the owner. Even with your best of intentions, you could be bitten, you could be sued, and you could actually intensify the bark rather than reducing it. And do not install any electronic anti-barking devices. We are hearing reports that these can be quite aversive, perhaps even painful, for the dogs at which they are directed.
Remember, barking is natural! It’s an important means of communication for dogs. But sometimes problems can develop. As the pack leader, it’s your job to step in and control excessive barking. Here are my 5 tips to help you stop nuisance barking for good.
A variety of devices are designed to teach dogs to curtail barking. Most often, these are collars that deliver an unpleasant stimulus when your dog barks. The stimulus might be a loud noise, an ultrasonic noise, a spray of citronella mist or a brief electric shock. The collars that deliver noise are ineffective with most dogs. One study found that the citronella collar was at least as effective for eliminating barking as the electronic collar and was viewed more positively by owners. Virtually all dogs become “collar-wise,” meaning that they learn not to bark while wearing their anti-bark collars but revert to barking when they’re not wearing them. Collars that work on a microphone system to pick up the sound of a dog’s bark should not be used in a multidog home because any dog’s bark can activate the collar.
Bringing an outdoor dog inside will lessen the noise impact on neighbors, and provide extra security for your home. It’s also safer, because dogs left alone outside can face theft, escapes, poisoning, harassment, and other dangers.
If you need help teaching your dog these skills, don’t hesitate to enlist the help of a Certified Professional Dog Trainer or a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist in your area. A professional trainer can meet with you one-on-one to guide you through the process of teaching your dog to sit, stay and go to a spot on command. Please see our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, to locate one of these experts near you.