You can solve this problem through management. If your dog likes to sit on the window sill and bark at everyone passing by, first block access to their vantage point and then offer them an alternative, more appropriate pastime.
Territorial/Protective/Alarm/Fear: Because this type of barking is often motivated by fear or a perceived threat to their territory or people, it can be lessened limiting what your dog sees. If he’s in a fenced yard, use solid wood instead of chain fencing. Indoors, limit access to windows and doors or cover them with an opaque film.
Dogs can bark if they’re being territorial and sense that you’re moving in on their turf. If you find that your neighbor’s dog barks every time you go into your yard or get close to the neighbor’s property, it’s probably being territorial. A good solution for this kind of barking is to block the dog’s view with a fence, some kind of screen, or some privacy bushes and trees. If the dog can’t see you, it is less likely to think of you as a threat.
Tony has been dog training (in association with his mother Jan Fennell) since 1999. The Dog Listener book has been translated into over 25 languages. He has been on radio and television on 4 continents and teaches the Amichien Bonding dog training process all over the world in English and French.
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.
Outside, you might consider putting slats in the chain link fence to cut down on his visual access to the world surrounding his yard (better yet, install a privacy fence) or put up an interior fence to block his access to the more stimulating parts of the yard. Given that alarm barking will inevitably occur, it’s also useful to teach him a positive interrupt – a cue, other than “Shut up!” that you can use to stop him in mid-bark. (See “The Positive Interrupt,” to the right of this page.)
If you listen closely, you will eventually learn the sounds of your dog’s different barks. You may then be able to figure out what each bark means. Understanding the reason why your dog barks is the first step towards controlling the behavior.
Other off-collar devices can work well if your dog barks in a set area. Bark-activated water sprayers or noisemakers switch on when they pick up barking, shooting water at your pet or emitting an irritating sound. These can sometimes break a dog of barking in a given area, but they work best if you are home to reward your pet when he stops barking. That helps reinforce what you want your dog to do.
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Also, remember to socialize your puppy. Most dogs bark at unfamiliar things that they don’t understand or feel may be a threat. If your pup has grown comfortable with a wide range of scenery and sounds, they will feel less of a need to bark as they will be more confident.
Try to keep meeting and greeting under control. When you or a family member comes home, ignore your dog for the first couple minutes. When people come to the door, teach your dog to sit and wait until the person comes to him; this will bring control and anticipation to the greeting rather than barking.
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 dog 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.