Dogs often bark when they find themselves excited but thwarted, or frustrated, from getting to something they want. For example, a frustrated dog might bark in his yard because he wants to get out and play with children he hears in the street. A frustrated dog might bark and run the fence line with the dog next door, or bark by the patio door while watching a cat or squirrel frolicking in his yard. Some dogs bark at other dogs on walks because they want to greet and play, or they bark at their caretakers to get them to move faster when preparing to go for walks. The most effective means for discouraging excitement or frustration barking is to teach a frustrated dog to control his impulses through obedience training. You can teach your dog to wait, sit and stay before gaining access to fun activities like walks, playing with other dogs or chasing squirrels. This can be a daunting task, so you may need the assistance of a Certified Professional Dog Trainer to help you. Please see our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, for information about finding a CPDT in your area. You can also discourage the presence of cats and other animals in your yard by using motion-activated devices to startle intruders.
Fortunately, all hope isn’t lost if your dog’s barking has been going on for longer than it should. Silverman advises interrupting nighttime barking in a way that does not scare, startle or hurt your dog, while still getting the message across. He explains how to turn a nighttime distraction into a training tool. “You want to make sure that you start off with your dog in a place where he starts to notice, or is aware of a distraction, but is not going crazy. You want to find a way to correct the dog just as he barks. Once your dog responds to the correction, you can move a few feet closer the next training session. Over the course of time, you can see that as he understands to not bark and play out that action, you will eventually be next to the distraction that is making him bark.”
It could be that your dog does a lot of ’alarm barking’, for example when there is someone at the door, or maybe they bark when left on their own. They may bark when other dogs in the neighbourhood start. Or they could be barking at birds or cats in the garden.
Leash issues are a huge problem for the dog-owning public and a leading culprit for why so many otherwise healthy dogs are doomed to life (or usually more accurately, an early death) in animal shelters. Whether it’s simple leash-pulling or more significant leash reactivity and leash aggression, the primary thing to keep in mind is that these issues are almost always preventable and manageable when using positive training methods.
Luckily, most dogs will quickly learn that being quiet will result in more rewards and attention through training and positive conditioning. While it may take a bit more effort on the front end, your ears and neighbors will appreciate the investment in training your dog to embrace their inner peace and quiet.
Busy toys: (helpful for attention seeking/demand barkers, boredom barkers and separation distress barkers) both boredom barkers and separation distress barkers benefit from having something to do when their people leave the house. Hard rubber toys that dispense treats are a great way to keep them occupied and happy when alone. They’re also great for dogs that bark for attention. For example, if your dog barks at you every time you get on the phone, give him a busy toy to keep him occupied while you make calls.
Puleeeze – I’ve been doing the “we’re stopping and we’re not moving until the leash is loose” crap for MONTHS with my 10 month old and he STILL immediately lunges to the end of the lead and pulls the instant I start moving again. When it’s tight and I stop he turns to look at me, excitedly, and loosen sometimes, but the instant I move he’s jerking me along again. Apparently the consequence of not moving isn’t severe enough, so I’m moving up to a choke chain because I’m tired of his crap. I’ve had 2 MRIs and a trip to the ER because of injuries caused when he’s seen a cat (I have to walk two puppies at the same time at least once a day – at least she’s smaller and more easily reigned in).
Here’s an important distinction to remember as a softhearted animal lover: Attention seeking is different from loneliness in dogs, says Ganahl. She explains, “Many dogs bark for attention, whether they want petting, the food you are eating or something else. It is important that you completely ignore your dog if you feel they are barking for attention, otherwise the barking will continue. If you tell your dog ‘quiet,’ ‘shush’ or any other vocalization to tell them to stop, that is considered attention to your dog.”
No matter why your dog is barking, some general training will help keep his mind occupied and wear him out. A tired dog is a happy dog. Regular walks in the morning can help, even just a 15 minute walk around the block is better than nothing. Two walks a day would be perfect. If you work long hours, consider a dog walker, doggy daycare, a play-date with a friend’s dog or asking a someone to visit in the middle of the day.
We took the steps of talking to our neighbor. They got some kind of a squirt collar for the dog when he’s left alone outside, and when he barks, it seems to have helped. A lot depends on how ignorant and inconsiderate your neighbor is. I’d start with trying to make contact and starting a discussion, explaining why it’s a problem. Try to enlist their help before indicating further steps might be necessary. You might be surprised. The ignorance may be that the owner had no idea the dog was doing that. If all fails, then you would be justified in involving the authorities.
Shock collars are similar to citronella and ultrasonic collars, but instead deliver a brief electric shock to the dog’s neck. These collars typically have a number of different settings to change how intense the shock is, and if using one of these collars it is best to use the lowest setting possible to prevent injury to the dog. Again, these should only be used as an absolute last resort.
Let’s face it – dogs bark. Some dogs bark for good reason and some do for apparently little or no reason and some do a little of both. Of course there are also certain breeds that are more prone to barking than others. The dog problem is not always the barking but the need for dogs to be quiet at certain times or when asked. I want to talk about the reasons dogs bark in order to help you prevent dog barking.
As your dog gets comfortable with you being out of her sight, try closing a door to block her access to you, and gradually extend the duration of time that you are out of the room or behind a closed door.
“In this case, it is best to ignore the barking, wait for five seconds of quiet and then reward him with attention,” Stillwell tells The Bark. “This way, the dog learns that he gets nothing from you when he barks but gets everything when he’s quiet.”
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.
Consider building a fence around your yard to keep your dog safe–or letting your dog out in your backyard instead. You can also approach your neighbor to discuss the two dogs’ behavior and relationship. Your neighbor might be willing to up with a solution with you, as this also considers his dog’s safety.