If you decide you want to give in, however, Spaulding says it’s best to do that after the first or second bark, if you can, because waiting teaches dogs they have to bark a lot to get what they want, and they may become very pushy in the future.
“Often, a dog’s bark means he’s bored or frustrated, and he wants us to fix it,” she says. “In situations where you’re not sure what the cause of the barking is, it’s fair to assume your dog would like to interact with you.”
I know first hand the frustration of dealing with a barking dog. Trust me, I have a Chihuahua! While inappropriate barking can make you want to pull your hair out at times, it’s important to remember that it’s a natural behavior for your pup. Barking is the way he communicates and of course he’s going to feel the need to alert you when an intruder is approaching (by “intruder” I really mean a friendly neighbor)!
Reward good behavior. When your dog finally does stop barking, it’s important that you praise and reward her for her silence. Over time, your dog will learn that being silent and obedient will achieve greater results than acting out and barking.
If you prefer not to hold your dog’s muzzle or if doing so seems to scare your dog or make him struggle, you can try a different method. When your dog barks, approach him, calmly say “Quiet,” and then prompt his silence by feeding him a steady stream of tiny, pea-sized treats, such as chicken, hot dogs or bits of cheese. After enough repetitions of this sequence, over several days or more of training, your dog will begin to understand what “Quiet” means. You’ll know that he’s catching on if he consistently stops barking as soon as he hears you say “Quiet.” At this point, you can gradually extend the time between the cue, “Quiet,” and your dog’s reward. For example, say “Quiet,” wait 2 seconds, and then feed your dog several small treats in a row. Over many repetitions, gradually increase the time from 2 seconds to 5, then 10, then 20, and so on.
Like many Collies, he loves to bark and has a lot to say. Think Sheltie, only bigger. Finn’s bark has a genetic component. Collie’s bark to herd sheep. In the photo below, Finn is just about to bark “let’s play!”
A lot of dogs bark because there is little else to do. If your dog is a nuisance barker, look at their daily routine and how much free, unoccupied time that they have to fill with their own activities.
*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.
Before we get into how to eliminate excessive yapping, remember that you don’t want to correct all barking. After all, if someone knocks at your front door when you’re not home, wouldn’t you rather your dog bark to deter a break in?
The standard dog training go to answer is to put an unwanted behavior on cue. By teaching your dog, a behavior it should only come out when you cue it. For dogs that have a lot to say (Finney!) this really helps get the edge off. My favorite reason to teach a dog to bark on cue is that at the same time we teach the “enough” or “stop” or whatever you choose to call it cue. Most of us think our dogs understand what they are saying. Often they do not.
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.
You may want to share your findings with your neighbor to give him or her one last chance to change before you call the authorities. If you’re pretty sure it won’t work, move straight to the next step.
Pheromone-based treatment: Diffusers mimic the “calming pheromones” given off by female dogs and will help soothe dogs that bark due to the stress. You might not see a dramatic shift in behaviour but keep in mind that the chemicals are milder than medication, but is an easy and affordable way to take the edge off.
Who among us hasn’t at our dogs howling at the sound of a ﬁre truck siren speeding past? The howl, which sometimes speaks of a dog’s distress, is also a communal conversation. Dogs often howl in groups, and some owners delight in teaching their dogs to howl on cue, by howling – or singing – themselves. “Group howl” is a popular activity of wild dogs, and of many humans around the campﬁre at dog camps. Try it – you and your dog might enjoy it!
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.
Barking does not always require a big interrupter, however. You can use everyday objects. If your dog barks near to you, slam the cupboard door or a drawer, so the noise distracts or startles him. Make nothing of this, and carry on as normal. This can work especially well when a dog barks simply to be let out of a crate. You don’t want to scare the dog, just quickly alter his state of mind and change the focus. He should not see you launch the object or make the noise. He has to think that the unwanted barking creates the occurrence. Practice this while you are watching TV, working in the kitchen or whatever you’re doing – the dog should not relate it to you but to the nuisance barking. An important part of this is that if you do drop or throw an object it should not hit the dog, but land at his feet. You should also leave it there for a while so he does not relate it to you. Remember though that you have to be able to understand and translate the different barks. One of his barks may be – I need to go to the bathroom. So learn to understand the tone of the bark or noise he makes.