Here’s a list of six techniques that can help stop your dog from barking. While all of them can be very successful, you shouldn’t expect miraculous results overnight. The longer your dog has been practicing the barking behavior, the longer it will take for him to change his ways.
Try to distinguish between barking that stems from needing to use the bathroom (which is a valid need to vocalize) and barking over every minor desire, such as wanting to come on the couch or be given more attention.
Ironic that I should be writing a how to get your dog to stop barking post when for the first time in my life, and after being a pro dog trainer for close to 20 years, I am living with dogs who love the sound of their own voices. Let’s meet the players, shall we.
First of all, let me talk about my childhood. Do not worry, I am not going off at a tangent here. Nor am I writing this while stretched out on a psychiatrist’s chair. When I was little – say 4 years old – happily playing with my Lego in the living room, if someone came knocking at the door I would not go and answer it. After all, I am only little. Plus, as a child growing up in the 70s in the UK, we had Public Information films on TV that were (it seems) designed to scare the living Beejeezus out of us. I remember all too vividly one that advised people to put the metal chain on the door before opening it, in case there was an axe-wielding maniac on the other side (I kid you not – and why is it always an axe?)
You may have heard the suggestion that if you put a behavior such as barking on cue and have it under good stimulus control, the dog then won’t bark unless you give him the cue to speak. Here are the four rules of stimulus control:
The answer here is obvious, and relatively easy: Bring the dog inside. Many outdoor barkers are perfectly content to lie quietly around the house all day, waiting for you to come home, and sleep peacefully beside your bed at night.
I have a 5 yr. old rough coated collie who barks very loud and consistently every tine I am talking on the telephone I at first thought he wanted attention but that’s not the case. When I am finished talking he walks away and is quiet. Please someone help. I am tired of going into the bathroom and closing the door if it’s a important phone call ! Ugggg
Let’s look at this from the dog’s point of view. A dog in the home is in its den, and there are often potential threats passing by (anything could be a problem seeing as they are in a world they don’t really understand). Often, dogs will bark at the passing person/dog/bike/car/hot air balloon (this last one comes from personal experience a few years ago in the Netherlands). How many dog owners thanks their dogs for letting them know? What is the usual response to a dog barking? It’s OK, there is no need to tell me; I may not understand Dutch but I can tell if someone is happy or not…
Once your dog barks, get their attention on you. Once they stop barking to look at you, say your command. It can be “Quiet,” “Enough” or “No Bark.” The phrase doesn’t really matter as long as you are using it consistently.
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.
Demand barking is easiest to extinguish early. The longer a dog successfully demands stuff, the more persistent he’ll be if you try to ignore him. However, ignoring him is the best answer to this behavior. No treats, no attention – not even eye contact. The instant the demand behavior starts, utter a cheerful “Oops!” and turn your back on your dog. When he’s quiet, say, “Quiet, yes!” and return your attention – and treat – to him.
Most people try this but they make a crucial mistake. They yell at the dog or simply use a tone of voice that is really bad. The main thing to remember here is that you want to show the dog that what he is doing is wrong. You do not do this by shouting. In fact, when the dog hears you shout, he might become even more impatient and may end up barking even louder.
Try bark deterrents. Bark deterrents like anti-bark collars are very unpleasant for dogs, and should only be used as a last resort when no other method has worked. Some people oppose bark collars because of the perception that these bark deterrents are punishment devices. Training works much better than punishment devices, and training will of course provide the best long-term solutions to behavioral problems, but if training hasn’t worked for your dog and your landlord has threatened eviction or police intervention, you may need to resort to a bark collar.
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 calms down.
We have had a behaviourist out to him who surmised that his behaviour was nothing to with cocker rage but more fearful dominance and she provided us with some exercises to do with him that, to be fair worked. However, over the past 3 month as his behaviour continued I started him on Kalm Aid after the advice of my vert. Hunter has also had the plug in diffuser and the collar none of which have helped. Recently I went back to the vet with him as I was at my wits end. There had been a situation where I had fed him in the morning and my son was ironing his work gear and I was stood near him, Hunter began growling and snarling and basically I was scared to move. I advised the vet that we had tried everything and that he is walked during the week 3 times a day for around 50 minutes a time and at weekends about 4 times a day sometimes one if his walks if around 6 miles, so it surely cannot be not enough exercise. The vet prescribed some anti anxiety drugs which seemed to be working however he has been on these for 3 weeks and seems loads better but we have had two episodes of the growling and snarling the most recent last night. He was lay on my knee (not in his normal position) and he started growling, I talked to him softly to reassure him and my lads talked to him, I tried to move him from my knee but he growled and snapped at my hand, although I could feel his teeth on my hand he didn’t mark it. This went on in total for around 10 minutes, he was pushed down but in doing so caught my hand, indented it but he has not left a mark. Whilst all this is going on Hunter is still wagging his tail although his body is stiff! Any ideas what more I can do, he is beautiful mostly well behaved and loveable dog but I actually do not know what else to do. Please help me, any hep/comments/advice would be greatly appreciated.
Research your town or city’s anti-barking laws. Look online at your town or city’s codes, by-laws or dog legislation. There may be a code against unruly pets or incessant barking at night; many places have legislation or regulations in place that deal specifically with dogs and/or noise. There might also be a code covering ignoring requests from neighbors.
Why do dogs bark? Unfortunately, there is no single reason that dogs vocalize, which means that there’s no across-the-board quick fix to stop your dog from barking. It can be frustrating to live in a home with (or next door to!) a dog that barks because it’s tough to prevent barking, and even tougher to stop it once the barking is underway. The first step to curbing a dedicated barker is discovering the motivation behind the behavior then addressing the problem with a customized training solution.