Barking can be a nuisance both for you and your neighbours. It can also be a sign that your dog is bored or anxious. There are a number of solutions for barking dogs that avoid the use of punishing anti-bark collars and will help you to achieve peace.
Excessive barking is often the result of pent-up energy. If this is the case, the solution is simple: release that energy in more productive ways. Does your dog receive a daily walk? Can you make the walk more challenging with a bicycle, a backpack, or by walking on an incline? Can you provide more mental challenges, such as herding, agility training, or simple obedience games? There are many, many ways to increase the challenges in your dog’s life. Find one that you enjoy that your dog can participate in safely.
It’s important to note that electric shock collars are illegal to use on dogs in Wales. If you use these on your dog in Wales, you face a cruelty conviction, a fine of up to £20,000 and six months in prison.
Dogs that are bored have no way to release their energy. You want to be sure that the dog has different ways to let off some steam and have fun. You might think that the dog is getting enough exercise and plays enough but according to the dog, this may be incorrect. Every single dog has his own personality. You want to learn what your dog wants to do. If there is a need to offer more entertainment, you need to take steps to do that.
This is the dog who saves his family from a fire, tells us that Timmy’s in the well, scares off the rapist, barks at the dogs on Animal Planet – and goes bonkers every time someone walks past on the sidewalk outside the picture window. Alarm barkers can save lives – but sometimes their judgment about what constitutes an alarm-appropriate situation can be a little faulty.
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.
Recognize separation anxiety. Separation anxiety can take various forms in a dog, but the most common signs of separation anxiety are destroying the house/apartment and barking incessantly. These behaviors are typically only engaged in when the dog’s owner is at work or otherwise out of the house, and if the dog is not destructive, some owners may not even be aware that their dogs have separation anxiety. Common signs of separation anxiety to look out for include:
Let’s look at this from the dog’s point of view. A dog in the home is in its den, and there are often potential threats passing by (anything could be a problem seeing as they are in a world they don’t really understand). Often, dogs will bark at the passing person/dog/bike/car/hot air balloon (this last one comes from personal experience a few years ago in the Netherlands). How many dog owners thanks their dogs for letting them know? What is the usual response to a dog barking? It’s OK, there is no need to tell me; I may not understand Dutch but I can tell if someone is happy or not…
My min Schnauzer starts barking,yowling and squeaking the moment you bring the lead in to the room. she doesn’t stop for almost the entire walk. She can bark for up to an hour on a walk with no dogs in sight.
In Nature, there are plenty of animals living in groups that have “sentinels” – members of the group looking out for potential danger while the others are at rest or playing etc. If the sentinel sees something that could be a problem, it is raise the alarm. In wild canines, the leaders will check out the problem once alerted and act accordingly. The sentinel is never punished for doing its job, just like how I was never hit by Mum for letting her know when someone was at the door.
If you have a backyard area, even if it is not fenced in, you can create the play area. This is actually recommended. Whenever the dog is bored and starts barking uncontrollably, all you have to do is let him play.
Playfulness/Excitement: This type of barking is especially common in puppies and young dogs. Many dogs will bark while playing with people or other dogs. Even the sound of the bark tends to sound upbeat and possibly musical. Some dogs will bark excitedly when they know they are about to go for a walk or car ride.
Below you will see 13 ways to get your dog to stop barking. They are pretty effective. In most situations the tips will help you to stop this behavior. However, you want to use due diligence. Make sure that you always focus on the cause of the barking, not trying to just stop it.
This is the dog who’s left out in the backyard all day, and maybe all night. Dogs are social creatures, and the backyard dog is lonely and bored. Boredom barking is often continuous, with a monotonous quality: “Ho hum, nothing else to do, I may as well just bark.” This is the kind of barking that’s most annoying to neighbors, and most likely to elicit a knock on your door from a friendly Animal Control officer.
Punishing your pet might temporarily suppress the behaviour but does nothing to change the motivation behind it. So your bored barker might stop woofing when told off, but they might find a different thing to occupy themselves with instead – very likely something you won’t approve of, either!
Similarly, she says, if your dog barks when you pick up the leash to go for a walk, don’t reward him by heading out the door and giving him what he wants. Instead, drop the leash until he settles and stops barking. If he barks as soon as you clip on the leash, drop it and ignore him until he quiets down. It takes patience, but eventually he’ll learn that barking won’t get him what he wants.
Some dog owners ‘debark’ their dogs but that is a very controversial method which does not address the underlying cause of the barking. It is a surgical procedure where the voice box is removed, leaving dogs with a raspy, instead of full, bark. There are complications and the operation can be life-threatening.
When your dog is barking, say “Quiet” in a calm, firm voice. Wait until he stops barking, even if it’s just to take a breath, then praise him and give him a treat. Just be careful to never reward him while he’s barking. Eventually he will figure out that if he stops barking at the word “quiet” he gets a treat (and make it a delicious treat, such as cheese or chicken, to make it worth more than the barking.)
When they bark, simply say something like “Thank You”, in a VERY gentle voice (rather like you would whisper in somebodies ear). Then if they continue with the barking, go and take a look out the window and again say “Thank You” again very softly, before walking away. (Now I know this may seem odd, BUT it makes total sense to your dog – I promise!)
Stress-reducing collar – This is similar to the diffusers discussed earlier. Stress-reducing collars are loaded with soothing pheromones that will help stressed dogs calm down and reduce anxious barking.
You may have heard the suggestion that if you put a behavior such as barking on cue and have it under good stimulus control, the dog then won’t bark unless you give him the cue to speak. Here are the four rules of stimulus control:
If ‘free time’ is a rather large chunk of your dog’s day, it might be a good idea to up their exercise time (walks, playing in the garden) and/or mental stimulation (training, use of food toys, scent games) in order to tire them out and simply give them something to do that isn’t barking.
It is understandable that a dog barking all the time can be annoying and even distressing, but if this happens when you are at home and you know that your dog is barking at something outside, try thanking it instead of what you may have one before. You are letting your dog know that you are aware of the situation and (most importantly) you are calm. This is vital in encouraging a dog to calm down. If you get animated and/or annoyed, the dog feels your adrenalin level rise too. The thing it is barking at must be a problem in that case.
Bark on command. Another approach that can work is to teach your dog to bark on command, or “speak,” and then command him to be quiet. If you use treats or even verbal praise – do wait a few seconds after dog has finished barking before rewarding him. What you don’t want him to think is that he is being rewarded for barking when really he is being rewarded for being quiet. To get him to bark initially you can have someone ring your doorbell or you can encourage him to bark by “barking” yourself. Have him on a leash during the exercise so that you can distract and stop the barking with a light pop of the leash. To make the response even better teach your dog that he can bark at the doorbell but then must be quiet and go to a place near the door where he can watch who is at the door and allow them to come in. This can give a very effective security touch to a home. Dog barks, owners says “Quiet,” and he stops barking, showing he is under control. When the door is opened he is sat watching and waiting for anything that could be a threat. One word – “Speak” – has him barking again. So by teaching the commands – “Speak,” “Quiet,” and “Place,” – you have a dog that both under control, yet ready to give a warning or even threaten if required.