Dog trainers often make promises to fix a dog barking problem that in all honesty they should not make. In all my years as a Police Dog Trainer and private dog trainer, fixing dog behaviour issues that occur when the owner is not around are the most difficult. How to stop dog barking in this instance is the toughest of all. Sure, increased exercise, changing routines and leadership structures can all help.
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”.
Even since spring came by and I started working outside, he barks constantly. He barks when he’s outside, when he’s in the house, when I’m asleep. At first I thought that’s because he wasn’t getting enough attention but even when I play with him he barks. I can’t do anything without him constantly driving me insane.
Some medical problems can cause excessive barking, from bee stings to brain disease to ongoing pain. Older pets can develop a form of canine senility that causes excessive vocalizations. It’s always a good idea to have a pet checked by a veterinarian to be sure there’s no medical reason for a problem.
Before starting her full-time writing business, Sarah worked with a top pet food company as a consultant to veterinarians conducting weekly classes on canine and feline nutrition for the doctors and staff.
The problem with shouting at a dog is that it thinks that you are upset as well. The problem is that it does not blame itself for your distress. It thinks that you are concerned about the threat too. Also, if you carry on shouting at your dog, it actually thinks you are joining in, thereby reinforcing its initial alert. I once met a couple whose dog would bark non-stop for 30 minutes. The only reason it stopped after a half-hour was because the wife’s voice stopped working, she screamed at it for so long.
Obedience collars will assess the effect of a problem and not its cause. If you really want to stop the dog from barking, you need to stop the cause or do something to fix the problem that exists. We have to add that it has been proven that shock collars are not as effective as they are advertised. Modern dog trainers see this method as something that should never be tolerated. You do not want to hurt the dog in order to get him to do something for you. He loves you and will want to please you. He might not really love you anymore when he realizes that you abuse him.
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.
What is interesting with the dog care or daycare centres is that they are really beneficial for the dog in many more ways than you may think. The dog will increase his agility, will become more obedient and will be able to get rid of that high amount of energy that he has.
What you want to do is first focus on teaching your dog the “Speak” command. This is really easy as the dog will react to you. Make sure that you practice this when the dog is not barking. After the command is learned, you want to teach the “Quiet” command. Use any trigger word that you feel comfortable with. When the dog barks, you signal him by putting your fingers to your lips and saying the trigger word. A dog naturally picks up physical signals much faster than a voice command. That is why the gesture helps. After some practice and after you hand out treats as the dog does what he is supposed to, all you need to do is calmly say the trigger word when the dog starts barking and barking will stop.
Keep greetings low key. Teach your dog to sit and stay when meeting people at the door so that he has something to do instead of barking. This will reduce his excitement level. First teach him to sit and stay when there aren’t any people at the door so that he knows the behavior well before you ask him to do it with the distraction and excitement of real visitors arriving.
I have a Sibercaan (Native American Indian Dog/Canaan Dog hybrid), and only stubborn persistence works. If I stop, he’ll lean into the harness continually and won’t back off. One time I tried to out wait him, but after 45 minutes I had to literally lift him off his front feet to turn him around. He has snapped a chest lead, supposed ‘large breed’ leashes, so I made a harness by serging 2″ five ton rigging strap and a leash made of 7200lb test mooring line, with a harness handle. Basically I just lift him like luggage and redirect him before I put him back down. Although he’s disappointed, it doesn’t hurt him because of the wide straps, and letting a dog strain at a standstill is terrible for their hips and paws. Manual lift and redirect is safer and faster. Granted, this is only as effective as your ability to lift the dog. He’s 110 pounds currently with 20 or so more to go, so for most people he would easily pull one off their feet in a linear tug of war. When I say lift,I’m just taking the weight off his front paws, so when he pushes with his hind paws,he just stands up, and it’s actually pretty easy to redirect him this way. I’ve had success with my neighbor’s mastiff at 178 pounds with this method, and it works with my sister’s behemoth Newfoundland retriever at 190 pounds. The biggest thing is to be patient, his breed is renowned as sled pullers, so the stop and wait thing is more like a challenge to him. If you teach them that no matter how strong they are you can still direct them in a calm manner, they generally become cooperative. Hopefully this will help some other large breed owners.
While Dr. Rachel Barrack of Animal Acupuncture explains that there is not always a universal cause for night barking, loneliness remains one of the top triggers she sees in dogs that can’t seem to settle down. Dr. Barrack says, “Dogs are pack animals, so if left alone in another room at night, they may bark to try and get attention. Allowing your dog to sleep in your room should help to eliminate barking due to separation anxiety. If sleeping in your bedroom isn’t an option, maybe you need another dog for a source of companionship.”
See what works best for your dog and go from there! Use the same techniques below, but once you get your dog’s attention, move them into a room where they are more protected from the cause of the barking. It might also help your nervous dog to soothingly talk and pet him until he calms down.
Try to agree on a concrete solution. Rather than expecting your neighbor to put a stop to all barking, it might be more feasible to agree on a practical solution that works for both of you. Here are a few solutions that might apply; you can adapt them to your situation as necessary:
Remember, most people actually do want their dog to alert them that something is going on outside. It’s like the doorbell. You want to be able to hear it and know something is there, but you only want it to ring once.
What you have to do is make it clear that he will not be able to play with you and that you will not acknowledge him until he stops barking. Use a trigger word and establish it. You want to be calm and simply not acknowledge your dog until he stops barking. Then, offer a treat and start playing with him. If he starts barking again and acting hectic, stop playing and repeat the process. Your dog will then figure out that his excessive barking is the problem and the reason why you are not happy to see him.
A dog barking is completely natural and it is unreasonable for us as owners to expect our dogs to never bark. We as humans don’t always appreciate it but barking is the way our dogs communicate with each other and the world. That, however, does not mean excessive barking is acceptable behavior.
Once you’ve taught your dog the “quiet” command in a calm environment, practice in increasingly distracting situations until your dog can immediately stop barking when asked to, even when that “intruder” arrives at the door.
Continue to recruit people to help you practice “Go to Your Spot” exercises until your dog reliably goes to his spot and stays there until you release him by saying “Okay.” At this point, your dog should be able to perform his new “Go to Your Spot” skill perfectly about 90 percent of the time during training sessions. The hardest part for your dog will be going to his spot and staying there in real-life situations, when he hasn’t been able to do a few warm-up repetitions. To prepare your dog for times when real visitors arrive, ask friends who already know your dog well to drop by randomly when you’ll be home. Then ask friends who don’t know your dog well to drop by. With plenty of practice, your dog will be able to go to his spot and stay there, even when neither of you knows who’s at the door!
As your dog learns that silence is rewarded with treats and barking is ignored, you’ll need to gradually extend the period of time that your dog must be quiet before receiving a treat. For example, once she has passed the initial stages of getting a treat after the barking has stopped, you may want to prolong the required quiet time by a few seconds each day and work your way up to a minute or two before rewarding her.
A behavior chain is a series of behaviors strung together. Your dog may learn to bark once or twice to get you to turn your back, say quiet, and feed him a treat. His short behavior chain is “bark – then be quiet.” To avoid this, be sure to acknowledge and reward him frequently before he even starts barking.
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.
“In this case, it is best to ignore the barking, wait for five seconds of quiet and then reward him with attention,” Stillwell tells The Bark. “This way, the dog learns that he gets nothing from you when he barks but gets everything when he’s quiet.”
Boredom: Do you ever sing or talk to yourself when you’re bored? Your dog may do the same thing. The reason we often see the boredom bark is when dogs are left outside for long periods of time. We all know that dogs are pack animals and want to be near you. When they are left alone, they often occupy their time by barking.
In situations such as when the postman or visitors come to the door or a phone rings and your dog becomes very vocal, teaching them to perform a behaviour that simply takes your dog’s mind off barking should do the trick.
If the dog carries on barking, then go to where it is and look to see what the problem is. Do not pay attention to your dog at this point just in case it is doing it to try to get your attention on its terms (Simon Says is a game that dogs are VERY good at). Instead, show your that you are investigating the problem. Whether anything is there or not is not important. The main thing is that your dog sees you assessing the situation as the responsible one in the family. Give another “Thank you” and either take the dog away or just leave. Your dog sees that you have had a look and you do not think it is a problem. If your dog still continues after that, then quietly put your dog somewhere on its own until it is quiet. Your attitude is one of “Calm down”. Once you get silence, you can let your dog out again. If it goes back, repeat the process. If this happens three times then leave the dog in Time Out to show it that it really needs to chill out. This helps your pulse rate to stay low which will always have a good effect on your dog. The best leaders remain calm in a crisis.
Let’s take a look at what happens in the dog’s mind during an ”extinction burst”. The behavior of barking in the morning had to start somewhere. Very likely, upon barking in the morning you or somebody in your family got up and fed the dog. Since the barking worked in getting what she wanted, very likely she continued to do so, and very likely you continued getting up and feeding.
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Animal Control authorities will usually be responsible for enforcing noise complaints about barking dogs. Your neighbor will most likely get a formal warning, but if the noise continues, they might be issued a citation. Calling the police isn’t always the best move, as officers often have bigger problems to worry about than barking dogs. However, if you suspect abuse or neglect are causing the barking, you should absolutely get authorities involved.