Constant barking can be irritating, but you won’t be able to correct the dog behavior problem if you are frustrated. Animals don’t follow unbalanced leaders. In fact, your dog will mirror your energy. If you’re frustrated, he will be, too! And barking is a great release for that frustrated energy. Take a moment to curb your own internal barking first.
Some dog owners ‘debark’ their dogs but that is a very controversial method which does not address the underlying cause of the barking. It is a surgical procedure where the voice box is removed, leaving dogs with a raspy, instead of full, bark. There are complications and the operation can be life-threatening.
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 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.
Alternatively, you can teach your dog to “speak; once he’s doing that reliably, signal him to stop barking with a different command, such as “quiet”, while holding your finger to your lips (dogs often pick up body signals faster than voice commands.) Practice these commands when he’s calm, and in time he should learn to stop barking at your command, even when he wants to bark at something.
Dogs are social animals who like to live in family groups and it is common for them to become upset when they are left on their own for longer than they feel comfortable with. This is called ‘separation anxiety’ and we have lots of information about this here.
Whenever you leave the house, try giving your dog a puzzle toy stuffed with food. Something hollow that can be stuffed with treats, spray cheese, or low-fat peanut butter will keep your dog occupied for at least 20 to 30 minutes, which may be long enough for her to forget that she was afraid of you leaving.
Did you know that if we yell at a barking dog, they often feel we are joining in? Does your dog bark at you when you are the phone? Think maybe you taught this by accidentally giving them the attention they were seeking?
When your dog masters going to his spot, start asking him to sit or down when he gets there. As soon as your dog’s rear end hits the floor on the spot, say “Yes!” and reward him with a tasty treat. Then say “Okay,” and allow him to move off the spot. Repeat these steps at least 10 times per training session.
I should add here that many years ago (when I was pretty new to dog training) I used to think that barking could all be sorted out with the same approach. Now I’m a few years older and wiser (hee hee), and I can see the error of my ways.
“It’s an alert. It can be communication that someone’s there. It can be to tell someone not to come closer,” Aga says. “They have play barks, they have attention-seeking barks and they bark out of boredom. There are a lot of reasons, but it’s all instinctual, primal communication.”
The goal is to get your dog used to whatever it is that’s causing the barking. For example, if your dog barks at people outside the window then sit with him as he looks out the window. When someone approaches pull out the treats, tell him “quiet,” and wait for your dog to stop barking. When he does, praise him and give him a treat. Gradually increase the time he must be quiet before giving a treat. The goal here is to get your dog to associate the stimulus with positivity (rather than barking).
HI Nat, we recommend a consultation with a qualified trainer to give you some tips on how to manage or change this behavior. It is impossible to give you good advice without seeing your pup’s behavior, I’m afraid.
Keep in mind that not all the dog daycare centers out there are really good. You want to meet with the people that will take care of him and fully understand what happens there. After all, you are leaving the dog with strangers. You want to be sure that the dog feels great and is treated as he should be treated. If you notice that the dog is not happy and does not enjoy his time at the center, do not force him to keep going!
Try to look at things from the dog’s perspective when the dog is outside. See if there is anything outside in particular he is barking at, such as rabbits, squirrel, another dog, something else you think the dog might be barking at. Then think about whether there is a way to reduce this trigger.
past bad words, and let her know you’d like to help with her dog’s barking, if you can. Even short of doing actual behavior modiﬁcation, offers to let her dog play with yours (if they’re compatible) or taking her dog for walks (if you can safely manage the dog) may enrich the dog’s environment and provide enough exercise to reduce or eliminate the barking.
Your dog needs to understand when to bark and when to be quiet, and it’s your job to teach this to her. Start working on problem barking as soon as you can. The longer you wait, the harder it gets to curb the behavior.