For instance, if every time the neighborhood kid comes to shoot hoops in front of your house, your dog barks at them, try teaching them that every time the kid comes to shoot hoops in front of house it means treats at their mat for chilling out. Can you think of other alternatives that you could train at your house?
A chest-led harness is a perfect training aid, as it takes pressure off a dog’s sensitive neck by distributing the pressure more evenly around the body. When the leash is attached to a ring located on the chest strap and your dog pulls, the harness will turn his body around rather than allowing him to go forward. I recommend this kind of harness for anyone who needs extra help, as safety has to come first.
We don’t necessarily want to stop dog barking though, especially when the barking is an alarm alerting us to danger, or perhaps warding off an intruder. But we do want to stop dog barking when we ask them to, and we don’t want them to bark if there is no reason. Some dogs will bark at the slightest noise, disturbance or movement. Often, although barking could be in the breed’s instinct, the owner has unknowingly reinforced the behavior. If we shout at the dog that is barking he may think we are joining in. If we tell him gently to be quiet or give him affection, he may mistakenly think we like it and sees this calm voice as praise for barking.
While I wouldn’t reward a dog barking to boss you into getting their dinner, I would respond to an empty water bowl or a request to go to the bathroom. Part of being a good dog owner is learning to understand your dog’s barks, and to respond to genuine needs.
Watch out for extinction bursts and behavior chains. When you’re trying to make a behavior go away by ignoring it, your dog may increase the intensity of his behavior – “I WANT IT NOW!” This is an extinction burst. If you succumb, thinking it’s not working, you reinforce the more intense behavior, and your dog is likely to get more intense, sooner, the next time. If you stick it out and wait for the barking to stop, you’re well on your way to making it go away. You have to be more persistent – and consistent – than your dog.
“Yay, Mom’s home! Mom’s home! Mom’s home!” If your dog hails you with hellos when you return after an absence, it’s time to shift into ignore mode. Stand outside your door and wait for the cacophony to subside, then enter calmly; no rousing hug-fests or “I love you! I missed you!” sessions. When your dog is quiet, then calmly greet him. If he starts to bark again, mark the barking with an “Oops!” and ignore him again.
Dogs bark for a number of reasons, so it is important to sit back and try to determine why your dog is barking. Some dogs bark for attention, out of boredom, at people or birds and some bark because they are stressed or anxious. A dog barking due to anxiety needs a different approach to a dog who is bored.
Leave distractions for your dog. In addition to exercise, leaving distractions around the house is a great way to inhibit problem behaviors like boredom barking. You can use a puzzle toy stuffed with peanut butter, or simply toss a handful of treats in various places around the room. You can also leave a radio or television on for the dog so the sound will distract her.
I can control Red’s howling most of the time when I am at home. However, when I leave, (6:45AM) he can be a nonstop howling maniac, much to my neighbors’ dismay. The no-bark collar was my last resort, and thank heavens it worked. Now he doesn’t even try to bark when it is on, and my neighbors can sleep in peace in the morning.
Create distractions. With some dogs it does require an interrupter or distraction to take their mind off of the stimulus to bark. In other words, there has to be something that breaks the concentration on the barking. In some cases the intensity is too high for a verbal command to cut through the behavior. The interrupter in that case may be another noise, such as using a tool that emits a high frequency sound when the dog barks. This is not a pleasant sound to the dog and interrupts his barking. A beanbag, a piece of chain and even a can with pebbles or coins in it, can the interruption too. It works like this – the dog barks and this loud object lands on the floor in front of him. You act as though it came from “Heaven.” Now he thinks every time he barks for no reason or if he continues unnecessarily, something falls from the sky.
Do not encourage your dog to bark at sounds, such as pedestrians or dogs passing by your home, birds outside the window, children playing in the street and car doors slamming, by saying “Who’s there?” or getting up and looking out the windows.