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.
For instance, if every time the neighborhood kid comes to shoot hoops in front of your house, your dog barks at them, try teaching them that every time the kid comes to shoot hoops in front of house it means treats at their mat for chilling out. Can you think of other alternatives that you could train at your animal control to report abuse. If you believe the barking is a result of neglect or another form 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.
It is vital that you determine why your dog barks in the first place, and if barking mostly occurs when your dog is left alone, a behaviour consultation with a qualified pet behaviour counsellor will likely be necessary to address this problem. Similarly, if your dog barks at people or dogs when out and about, or at visitors coming to the home, a simple tip is unlikely make a difference and a comprehensive assessment will be needed to help improve your dog’s behaviour.
If you are not sure what your dog is barking at or if he seems to be barking at everything, keep a bark diary. You may start to see a pattern, for example he barks at 3pm when kids are getting out of school. It might be useful to ask your neighbours to do this also, so you know when he is barking when you are not home. Your neighbours also then know you are attempting to resolve the problem.
Have you become desperate to figure out how to get a dog to stop barking? It’s in a dog’s nature to bark. They enjoy barking, and they bark for many reasons. They will bark when they want something, when they are playing, when they are establishing their territory, when they are frightened, when they are annoyed, and when they are just saying “Hi!” Too much barking, however, can drive a dog’s family–and their neighbors–crazy!
Unsurprisingly, this image has an effect on young Tony, so I would call out, “Mum! There’s someone at the door!” adding, “possibly an axe-murderer…” under my breath. If Mum was upstairs vacuuming, I would say it louder. When Mum heard me, she would come into the living room and say “Thanks, love”. As I was a smart child (my avoidance of potential psychotic lumberjacks being a good example of this) I would then stop calling for Mum. It would have looked odd if I had carried on, especially if the visitors walked into the living room to find me gibbering away. Now, if upon hearing me, Mum had come downstairs and told me to shut up, or even hit me for letting her know, that would have been ridiculous.
An idle dog can be a bad thing, and one of the best ways to keep your dog out of trouble is simply to keep them busy. Lots of time barking can be a sign of pent-up energy that has no other way to get out. The good news is there are lots of products to help you do this and even DIYs you can make that will engage your dog’s brain and body. Here are a few ideas you can start with without dropping a dime:
Dogs naturally lose old or damaged hair by shedding. Although shedding is a normal process for dogs, the amount and frequency of hair that is shed often depends upon their health and breed type. It can also depend on the season-many dogs develop thick coats in the winter that are then shed in the spring. Dogs who are always kept indoors, however, are prone to smaller fluctuations in coat thickness and tend to shed fairly evenly all year.
Alternatively, you can teach your dog to “speak; once he’s doing that reliably, signal him to stop barking with a different command, such as “quiet”, while holding your finger to your lips (dogs often pick up body signals faster than voice commands.) Practice these commands when he’s calm, and in time he should learn to stop barking at your command, even when he wants to bark at something.
This point is a biggie that even Cesar Millan can get behind. Barrack says that if your dog spends all day at home alone while you’re at work and has just a few hours of freedom before bed, it only makes sense that it’s restless at night. “They have pent up energy, are excited to see you and just want some attention. Exercise is the best solution for this cause of barking. One option is sending your dog to doggie day care where they can have a tiring day, running around and playing all day with other dogs. Alternatively, you and your dog can exercise together. A long walk or run will help tire both of you out before bedtime,” she explains.
Separation anxiety (SA) is manifested in a number of behaviors, including nonstop hysterical barking and sometimes howling. This is a complex and challenging behavior both to modify and to manage, as true SA is a real panic attack in response to being left alone; the dog truly cannot control his behavior. SA usually requires the intervention of a good positive behavior consultant, and sometimes pharmaceuticals.
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.
Barking is completely normal dog behavior and stopping nuisance barking will not mean your dog won’t bark at all. They will still let you know if there is an intruder, the aim is just to get the barking to a more manageable level.
Dogs occasionally become compulsive barkers, meaning they bark in situations that aren’t considered normal or they bark in a repetitive, fixed or rigid way. If your dog barks repeatedly for long periods of time, apparently at nothing or at things that wouldn’t bother other dogs, such as shadows, light flashes, mirrors, open doors, the sky, etc., you may have a compulsive barker. If your dog also does other repetitive behaviors like spinning, circling or jumping while barking, he may be a compulsive barker. To help reduce compulsive barking, you can try changing how you confine your dog. For instance, if your dog is tied or tethered, you can switch to keeping him loose in a safe fenced area, or if he’s left alone for long periods of time, you should increase exercise, mental stimulation and social contact.
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 add stay into your exercise. Stand next to your dog’s spot. Ask him to sit or lie down, say “Stay” and wait one second. Then say “Yes!” or “Good!” and give him a treat. After you deliver the treat, say “Okay” to release your dog from the stay and encourage him to get off the spot. Repeat this sequence at least 10 times per training session. Progressively increase from one second to several seconds, but vary the time so that sometimes you make the exercise easy (a shorter stay) and sometimes you make it hard (a longer stay). If your dog starts to get up before you say “Okay,” say “Uh-uh!” or “Oops!” and immediately ask him to sit or lie down on his spot again. Then make the exercise a little easier the next few times by asking your dog to hold the stay for a shorter time. Avoid pushing your dog to progress too fast or testing him to see how long he can hold the stay before getting up. This sets your dog up to fail. You want him to be successful at least 8 out of 10 times in a row.
Work on pre-departure anxiety by exposing your dog to your various departure cues, like putting on a coat or picking up/jingling your keys. Try engaging in these behaviors at various times throughout the day without actually leaving the house.
Repeat this process until your dog learns to associate the word “quiet” with her silence. Once your dog has done this successfully on 10 or more occasions, you can begin giving the quiet command without showing her a treat. If she still complies with your command, then give her a treat. If she does not, you may need to show her the treat for several more training sessions.
Offer him a treat when he stops barking. This creates a connection between the action done and the treat. In time, he can learn the command Quiet and whenever he hears it, he will just stop barking because he knows that this is what you want the dog to do.
Recognize compulsive/boredom barking. If your dog barks compulsively for no reason, or tends to bark when she’s left alone (in the yard, for example), she may be engaging in boredom barking. Dogs that bark when left alone may be experiencing separation anxiety, but there are usually other symptoms which accompany that problem, like destructive behavior, bathroom problems, and following you around when you’re home. Common signs of compulsive or boredom barking include: