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.
While barking at people outside or at the door (including you and your family), if your dog is also wagging his tail, crying, and jumping, this is a greeting bark, and must be handled differently than territorial barking. Greeting barks are friendly, but can still be annoying to you and your neighbors. Here are a few tips to help control the barking.
Meet your neighbor in person. Hand-written notes can be ignored and don’t lead to a dialogue. Communicating the issues you’re having with your neighbor’s dog is key. If you find that they are new dog owners and don’t have much experience, you can point them to helpful training guides like this one or recommend a local trainer.
In fact I was working with one yesterday! (A poor little Golden Doodle who was annoying the neighbors…the owners had tried everything and were just about to strap on an electric shock collar!) Not cool!
Before you can train your dog to go to a spot and stay there when a door opens, you’ll need to teach him how to sit or lie down and then how to stay. After your dog has learned these skills, you can progress to Step 2.
Here is a YouTube video of a trainer using a clicker to teach ‘speak’. A clicker is a noise that you pair with treats, so when you are training, your dog knows he is on the right track. You can also train this skill without a clicker and just treats.
Recognize alarm barking. Alarm barking is any pattern of barking at perceived intruders. While barking at a real intruder is useful and may save a person’s life, barking at perceived intruders like mail carriers, parcel deliverers, or even just neighbors passing by the property can be annoying and troublesome.
*Debarking is very controversial and is considered inhumane by many. It does not address the underlying cause of the barking. It is a surgical procedure in which the folds of tissue on either side of a dog’s larynx, or voice box, are removed, leaving dogs with a raspy bark instead of a full bark. Complications are common and can be life threatening, including breathing difficulties, higher incidents of choking, and ongoing pain. Dogs also have been known to regain their voices after the surgery. The procedure does not stop the barking, it only makes it sound different.
If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, it is a good idea to set up a safe and quiet placed for them when you aren’t home. Choose a room in your home that is away from the front door and with limited distractions from the outside world. This can be a back bedroom, laundry room or spare space.
Curb barks with scent. Researchers at Cornell University in New York found citronella collars to be much more effective in bark training. Citronella collars give a warning tone first; additional barking prompts a squirt of scent that stops the barking. Some of these collars have remote control activators.
First, get your dog excited by ringing the doorbell, knocking on a wall or whatever you know will start him barking. Say your command word, such as ‘speak’ and pair it with a treat. When your dog is consistently barking when you say ‘speak’, you can then say ‘quiet’ and give a treat. Your dog will have to stop barking to get the treat.
For the come command, you can call your dog to you and ask for a down. When your dog is focused on you, they are less likely to bark at something else. You can find instructions on how to train your dog to come here.
There are also voice activated recorders available, phone/tablet apps to monitor your pet and many different home security monitors you can set up via webcams to see what your dog gets up to while you are out.
Inside your home you can simply close your blinds or install a removable plastic film that makes windows opaque to obscure your dog’s view. Be sure to place the window film a few inches above your dog’s line of sight. You can also buy a spray-on glass coating.
Excessive barking due to separation anxiety occurs only when a dog’s caretaker is gone or when the dog is left alone. You’ll usually see at least one other separation anxiety symptom as well, like pacing, destruction, elimination, depression or other signs of distress. For more information about this problem, please see our article, Separation Anxiety.
First of all, it’s important that you don’t get mad at the dog, as tempting as that may be. The dog is just being a dog and doing what dogs do. Instead, go to your neighbor directly. They may not be aware that there is a problem if the dog barks while they are away at work or out of the house, or they may already know the barking is an issue and are trying to on it. Don’t make assumptions or accusations, and approach after you’ve had time to cool down.
Talk to your neighbors and explain to them about your condition and see if they can come up with a solution first. If this doesn’t help, you may have to call law enforcement. If it is affecting your quality of life, this should be taken seriously.
Pheromone-based treatment: (helpful for fear barkers and separation distress barkers) plug-in diffusers that mimic the “calming chemicals” given off by female dogs can help to soothe dogs that bark due to stress. While you might not see a dramatic shift in behavior – keep in mind that pheromones are different from prescribed medications – the diffusers are an easy and affordable way to take the edge off a stressful situation.
Ironic that I should be writing a how to get your dog to stop barking post when for the first time in my life, and after being a pro dog trainer for close to 20 years, I am living with dogs who love the sound of their own voices. Let’s meet the players, shall we.
Territorial and alarm barking happen when dogs see or hear something that arouses their attention (that’s why so many dogs bark at the living room window or along the fence). The quickest trick to stop barking at the window or in the yard is to manage the environment. Block your dog’s sightline to potential barking triggers.
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.
Once you determine the cause of your dog’s excessive barking, you can begin to control the behavior. The best way to prevent barking in the first place is to try and remove any potential sources of the behavior. You also want to be certain not to inadvertently encourage the barking. Finally, give her better things to do besides barking.
So what is treatment plan? Eventually, your dog will have some pauses in between barking. These pauses must be used to your advantage. Only get up when there is quiet. If you are getting up and the barking resumes, walk back to your bedroom. Make sure your dog takes notice of this. She has to hear that her barking is what causes you to not open her door. Quiet brings you closer to opening her room, while barking gets you more distant. Being smart, and looking for rewards, dogs eventually learn that quiet becomes reinforcing and it will eventually replace barking which should gradually extinguish.
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.
What if your dog completely ignores you when you try to redirect them with a command? With some dogs, you can utilize a strange noise to help them refocus on you. Make sure the noise isn’t your voice, but an outside source.
For best results, vary the amount of time your dog must remain quiet before getting a treat. That way she won’t come to expect a treat after a certain duration of time, and the anticipation will keep her in quiet suspense. For example, after a few weeks of training, alternate between 20 seconds of silence, a whole minute of silence, and 30 or 40 seconds of silence.
Omg, thank you so much of what you wrote. I bought today the collar and I was feeling so so bad, that almost cry and then someone in the office told me that I was crazy doing that, that my dog will be suffer, and almost died.
Fortunately, keeping a dog from barking is not that hard when you know what you need to do. Dog behaviorists and experts have successfully trained numerous chatty Cathies and the method is always the same: find out why is the dog barking in the first place and treat the cause behind the problem. If your dog is barking because their anxious or scared, you won’t approach the issue the same way you would if they were doing it out of boredom.
Ignore barking: (helpful for attention-seeking barking, play barking and frustration barking) attention seeking barkers are looking for some sort of acknowledgement from you when they bark. You can take the power out of your dog’s demanding barking by completely tuning him out when he barks at you with an agenda. Turn away, walk out of the room or do anything but look at your dog when he engages in attention-seeking barking. The same goes for frustration barking. If your dog is barking because his ball rolled under the couch and you fetch it for him, you’ve just taught him that being pushy gets him what he wants.
Getting a new dog means that the other dog has someone to play with. The only problem is that you want to be sure that you get the dogs to like each other. You want to talk with your vet or with a trainer and get some help with that. A great idea is to get another dog of the same breed but when this is not possible, you want to make sure that the old dog does not feel threatened. In some situations the owners will start to favor a dog and that can hurt the relationship with the other one. Make sure that you can offer equal love if you decide to get a second dog.
Most dogs out there cannot simply stay and do nothing. They need to solve puzzles, learn new things and have their minds challenged. So many games exist for this and you can find them with a simple Google Search. You want to be sure that the dog gets the attention he needs. If you cannot offer that attention, you want to arrange someone stepping in so that the dog receives the attention. You can even hire a dog sitter if this is something that will keep the mind of the dog active.
There are all sorts of devices that claim to stop barking. Most of them are some sort of collar that offer a negative response when a dog barks, such as an electric shock, a spray of citronella or a burst of static electricity. Talk with a trainer or behaviorist before considering one of these devices. If used incorrectly, they can cause more problems. For example, if your dog gets shocked every time he barks at a neighbor, he could associate the pain with the neighbor instead of the barking.
Correct your dog when they bark by giving them a stern look, making a loud, sharp sound, or physically touching your dog to distract them. Keep correcting if the dog starts barking again and do this consistently and repeatedly until they stop.