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.
Once your dog can be comfortably left alone for 90 minutes, she will most likely be able to handle four to eight hours of solitude. However, in the early stages of that comfort level, it’s best to “test” your dog at four hours of solitude, rather than jumping right to a full work day (if possible).
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.
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.
Be patient. It takes a lot of training and practice to get your dog comfortable with prolonged absences. Most of an anxious dog’s undesirable behavior will take place within the first 40 minutes that you’re gone, and it will take many, many training sessions before you can comfortably reach a 40 minute absence.
When your dog can consistently stay on his spot for at least 30 seconds, with you standing in front of him, you can start moving toward the door. Say the cue “Go to your spot,” walk with your dog to his spot, ask him to sit or lie down and ask him to stay. At first, just turn your head away from your dog. Then turn back to give him a treat and release him from the stay. After a few repetitions, make things a little harder. After your dog is sitting or lying down on his spot, ask him to stay and then take one step toward the door. Return immediately, give your dog a treat and then release him from the stay with your release word or phrase. Gradually increase the number of steps that you take away from your dog and toward the door. Eventually you’ll be able to walk all the way to the door and back while your dog stays sitting or lying down on his spot. (Don’t forget to keep rewarding him for staying!) If your dog stands up or leaves his spot before you release him from the stay, say “Oops!” the moment he gets up. Then immediately tell him to sit or lie down on his spot again and stay. Wait a few seconds and then release him. You may have progressed too fast. Next time, make the exercise a little easier so your dog can succeed. Ask him to stay for a shorter period of time and don’t move as far away from him. When he’s successful at an easier level, you can gradually make the exercise harder again. Never end your dog’s stay from a distance. Instead, always return to him, say “Yes,” give him a treat, and then say “Okay” to release him.
Have your dog bring you a present. Another way to keep your dog’s mouth closed is to encourage her to bring a “present” to you, a guest, or someone in your home; or to simply to encourage him to enjoy carrying objects. Dogs that enjoy retrieving will often pick up a toy and carry it around just to show their pleasure. Naturally dogs bark when they are holding a toy. But be careful not to give the toy when dog barking is in progress or the dog could mistake the toy as a reward for barking.
Seek assistance from a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) if all else fails. A CPDT will know how to help your dog in the best way possible. Find a CPDT in your area by searching online, or ask your vet for a recommendation.
If your dog barks at cats or birds in the garden, teach your pet a reliable recall that rewards them for turning away from the thing that triggers their vocalisation and coming to you instead. Because you have no control over this situation, you’ll need to apply a problem-solving method that gives you a way to manage it.
If you are not sure what your dog is barking at or if he seems to be barking at everything, keep a bark diary. You may start to see a pattern, for example he barks at 3pm when kids are getting out of school. It might be useful to ask your neighbours to do this also, so you know when he is barking when you are not home. Your neighbours also then know you are attempting to resolve the problem.
This is caused by either an “I want to get to you but can’t” situation, such as when your dog is in another room from you; also known as ‘frustration-related barking’. Or, the dogs is saying, “GO AWAY, you scare me”; also known as ‘fear-related barking’.
Best case scenario, the neighbors will be able to put their heads together to come up with a good solution that doesn’t leave anyone feeling ostracized. However, if the dog owner is unreceptive and the barking continues unchecked, you may have to change tacks and get authorities involved.
But in most cases, you can’t just tell a dog to hush. Trainers and dog behaviorists say that working with barking dogs is one of their most common requests. If your dog has a vocal problem, here are some tips that might help.
But, since dogs bark for various reasons, the first thing to do is to figure out why your dog barks, at what you might consider to be the most inappropriate times. Once you know the reason behind the uncontrollable barking, you can start to treat the problem.