In the photo above, Beck is about to bark. He barked to get Finney to chase him. Right after this photo was snapped, I intervened and stopped Finney from barking. Beck is an action guy and he then barked to get Finn going again. In this instance, I called them to me and gave them both a minute to chillax and regroup.
As already mentioned, dogs are easily distracted. It is normal for them to hear sounds outside and start barking. What is interesting and is rarely understood is that the dog can hear sounds that you do not because of how well the sense is developed in these animals. In the event that you live in a small apartment, the dog hearing something outside is something that is quite common. Combine this with the fact that he might not have enough space to play and it is a certainty that he will start barking.
Meet your dog’s needs. If your dog is hungry or left out in the yard all day every day, she will probably bark. No amount of training or behavioral techniques will subdue her need for food and comfort. Make sure your dog always has plenty of cool, clean water to drink any time she needs it, two to three nutritious meals each day, and access to the inside of your home.
Have some high-value treats ready – small and soft so they can be eaten quickly. While the dog is barking, just wait for her to stop. When she does stop, wait a beat, praise, and give her a treat. Gradually increase the time she must be quiet before rewarding her. If she starts barking, take a few steps backward and make the duration less. Once she to be understanding, add a word – hush, quiet, whatever works for you. Be consistent.
When training your dog to stop barking, you should set up training exercises rather than waiting for the mailman to ring the doorbell. Begin training by doing the basics like come and stay (check out my other blog posts in the links). Be sure to reward your dog generously so that he knows to pay attention to you. Have a friend or family member do something that would typically trigger dog barking – like knock on the door. See if you can get your dog’s attention. The second he looks or even glances at you, reward him. If you can’t get your dog to stop barking after the trigger, take some steps backward. Wait until you can get your dog to do the simple tasks, like come and stay. Then, have your training partner lightly knock on the door or even tap the door with a finger. If you can get your dog’s attention, reward liberally! This may take several training session, so stick with it! Within a few weeks, you should be able to stop your dog barking!
Once your dog is listening to you more, you can vary the picture even more by becoming unpredictable yourself. This means your dog has to listen to you at all times because he never knows when you are going to turn or where you are going to go next. Instead of turning away from him when you give the let’s go cue, reverse direction by turning towards him. You can turn in a circle or do a figure of eight. Any of these variations will get your dog’s attention. Do not forget to praise him for complying, because the better you make him feel walking close to you, the more he will chose to do so.
So if it is agreed that the most common motivations for dog barking (Separation and Defensive/Territorial) can or do occur when you are not there, what methods will stop dog barking more effectively than others? Chastising and physical punishment are obviously impossible when you are not there.
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.
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.
Eventually your dog will learn to be quiet on command without getting a treat. Even after you’ve reached this stage of training, however, you should still give your dog verbal praise when she stops barking.
Several variations of no-bark collars exist on the market, most of which have multiple levels of stimulation based on how quickly the dog learns. In other words, if the dog doesn’t stop, the collar will continue to provide increasing levels of shock until the dog learns. These are engaged in a manner which allows the dog to learn and recover, but the question we must ask ourselves is: How safe are these no-bark collars? Even if there’s no evidence of physical damage, are our dogs suffering unnecessary stress and anxiety through their use?
The next step in “Go to Your Spot” training is to recruit friends and family to help you conduct mock practice visits. Arrange to have someone come to the door. You will work with your dog to help him stay on his own. Be prepared! This will probably take a long time the first few visits. When you open the door, one of two things can happen. Sometimes you leave your dog there on his spot while you talk to the person at the door, as if your visitor is a courier or delivery person. Your dog never gets to say hello. (However, you, the person or both of you should frequently toss treats to your dog to reward him for staying.) At other times, invite the visitor in. Wait until the person sits down somewhere, and then release your dog to join you and your guest. When you have a friend help you with a mock visit, be sure to repeat the scenario over and over, at least 10 to 20 times. Practice makes perfect! Have the person come in for 5 to 10 minutes or just pretend to deliver something, then leave for 5 to 10 minutes, then return for a second visit, and so on. Your dog should experience at least 10 visits in a row with the same person. With each repetition, it will become easier for him to do what you expect because he’ll be less excited by the whole routine—especially when it’s the same person at the door, over and over again.
This is caused by one of two reasons. It could be an “I want to get to you but can’t” situation, such as when a dog is on lead or at the other side of the road, which is known as ‘frustration-related barking’. Or, it could be a “GO AWAY, you are scaring me” situation, also known as ‘fear-related barking’.
Finally, it’s worth it to note that we love our dog, but his barking makes him completely miserable to be around. So now we get to enjoy our dog, and not be in a constant state of apprehension over his truly awful barking.
Does your dog bark for attention? Don’t give him any! None at all – even stern reprimands count as attention. He has no idea what “quiet” means; yelling “quiet!” will only make it worse. He’ll think you’re joining in the barking game. Reward him with your attention when he’s calm and not barking. Teach a cue for being quiet. It’s a good trick to have in your dog’s bag for when he’s out with you and barking isn’t welcome.