Dogs are social animals who like to live in family groups and it is common for them to become upset when they are left on their own for longer than they feel comfortable with. This is called ‘separation anxiety’ and we have lots of information about this here.
There are a number of products on the market that promise to stop barking quickly. Collars that go on your dog can deliver audible or ultrasonic corrections to your dog, but they aren’t effective on all dogs. Citronella-spraying collars often work, but some dogs learn they can run them out of spray and then bark at will.
Eventually, when real visitors come to your home, you can ask your dog to go to his spot as soon as they knock or ring the doorbell. After letting your guests in, ask them to sit down. Wait about one minute before releasing your dog from his spot to greet them. Put your dog on a leash if you think he might jump on your guests or behave aggressively. After a minute or two of allowing your dog to greet people, ask him to lie down at your feet and stay. Give him something to keep him busy, such as a rawhide or a puzzle toy stuffed with something really tasty, like low-fat cream cheese, spray cheese or low-fat peanut butter, frozen banana and cottage cheese, or canned dog food and kibble. After your dog finishes with the rawhide or the KONG, he’ll probably go to sleep. If you repeat the ritual above for a while, your dog should learn to settle down calmly when guests visit your home.
It is not difficult to build an area for the dog. All that is needed is a way to separate that area from other areas of the home or the backyard. You can use wood, furniture and special items that are found in pet stores. When the dog has his own play area, he can have his time and consume the energy that makes him want to keep barking.
Wait until your dog is engaged in a low-value activity – wandering around the room, sniffing something mildly interesting – then say your interrupt phrase in the same cheerful tone of voice. You should see an immediate interrupt in his low-value activity, as he dashes to you for his chicken. If he doesn’t, return to Step 1.
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There are a number of different collars available to stop barking. The most humane is the Husher®, which is a soft elastic loosely fitting muzzle, that stops your dog from opening his mouth to bark, but will allow him to pant, eat and drink. It can be left on while your dog is alone, and can be used as a training aid. If you hear your dog barking, say ‘hush’ and show him the Husher® and if he does not stop, put the Husher® on.
Consider crate training. Crate training’s success varies considerably from one dog to another. Some dogs are frightened by having to be left in a crate, while others see the crate as their own safe space and an assurance that someone will be home at some point to open the crate.
Still in the low-distraction environment, add moderate distractions – one at a time – and practice the interrupt. Gradually move up to major distractions in the low-distraction environment. If you lose his automatic response at any step, return to the previous step.
The key concept is to keep control at all times. In other words DO NOT LOSE control of your dogs (think of a horse that has bolted from a stable)…a dog who is off leash and does not respond to a recall is by definition “out of control”.
The point is this: Dealing with a dog that won’t stop barking day or night is frustrating for everyone. Figuring out the behavioral problem that is causing your dog’s barking could save your sanity and keep the peace.
When he pulls, immediately stop and stand completely still until the leash relaxes, either by your dog taking a step back or turning around to give you focus. When the leash is nicely relaxed, proceed on your walk. Repeat this as necessary.
Before you begin any training session with a high energy dog, it’s crucial to exercise him. If your dog has too much energy during a training session he won’t be able to pay attention and listen. In order for new concepts to sink in, like learning to be quiet when asked, you first must get their overflowing energy out. High energy dogs often get bored so it’s important to know your dog’s favorite reward. A reward can be anything from a favorite toy to a delicious treat. As long as the reward gets your dog’s attention, you’ll be able to stop your dog barking with time.
Teaching replacement behaviors may be time consuming, but ultimately it is the best way to encourage desirable behavior. Instead of responding to your dog’s vocal requests to play, for example, teach her to bring her favorite toy to you and set it on the floor.
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 day without actually leaving the house.
One of the main benefits of the human-canine partnership is a dog’s natural ability to alert. You could say the talent for barking and guarding earned that first furry friend a place by the fire with our ancestors.
Try a sonic training system. This uses more advanced technology to silence a dog’s barking, but it’s the same idea as the whistle. Again, the results are mixed; these seem to work better for some dogs than others. If you’re at the end of your rope, it might be worth the expensive price tag to give it a try.
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.
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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!
If you suspect that your dog is a compulsive barker, we recommend that you seek guidance from a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist or a veterinary behaviorist. If you can’t find a behaviorist, you can seek help from a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, but be sure that the trainer is qualified to help you. Determine whether she or he has education and experience treating compulsive behavior, since this kind of expertise isn’t required for CPDT certification. Please see our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, to locate one of these behavior experts in your area.