Many dogs bark when they get excited or when they are frustrated by an inability to get at or do something. For example, the dog who runs through the backyard barking and whining when he hears his buddy out in the yard next door, or the dog who barks at the ball that rolled under the sofa a bit too far for him to get.
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.
While I wouldn’t reward a dog barking to boss you into getting their dinner, I would respond to an empty water bowl or a request to go to the bathroom. Part of being a good dog owner is learning to understand your dog’s barks, and to respond to genuine needs.
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.
We don’t necessarily want to stop dog barking though, especially when the barking is an alarm alerting us to danger, or perhaps warding off an intruder. But we do want to stop dog barking when we ask them to, and we don’t want them to bark if there is no reason. Some dogs will bark at the slightest noise, disturbance or movement. Often, although barking could be in the breed’s instinct, the owner has unknowingly reinforced the behavior. If we shout at the dog that is barking he may think we are joining in. If we tell him gently to be quiet or give him affection, he may mistakenly think we like it and sees this calm voice as praise for barking.
Find your dog’s trigger, give your “Speak!” cue, then elicit the bark. (If you want the bark to eventually ward off potential accosters, select a cue that will make sense in that context, such as “Stop!” or “Leave me alone!”)
Dogs often bark when they find themselves excited but thwarted, or frustrated, from getting to something they want. For example, a frustrated dog might bark in his yard because he wants to get out and play with children he hears in the street. A frustrated dog might bark and run the fence line with the dog next door, or bark by the patio door while watching a cat or squirrel frolicking in his yard. Some dogs bark at other dogs on walks because they want to greet and play, or they bark at their caretakers to get them to move faster when preparing to go for walks. The most effective means for discouraging excitement or frustration barking is to teach a frustrated dog to control his impulses through obedience training. You can teach your dog to wait, sit and stay before gaining access to fun activities like walks, playing with other dogs or chasing squirrels. This can be a daunting task, so you may need the assistance of a Certified Professional Dog Trainer to help you. Please see our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, for information about finding a CPDT in your area. You can also discourage the presence of cats and other animals in your yard by using motion-activated devices to startle intruders.
I sorta feel like I caused this because when I was getting them used to the lead when they were puppies I always gave them lots of praises and made the experience seem like loads of fun. If I take one away to work with him alone the other kicks off with a mix of howling/barking which I believe is separation anxiety.
Puleeeze – I’ve been doing the “we’re stopping and we’re not moving until the leash is loose” crap for MONTHS with my 10 month old and he STILL immediately lunges to the end of the lead and pulls the instant I start moving again. When it’s tight and I stop he turns to look at me, excitedly, and loosen sometimes, but the instant I move he’s jerking me along again. Apparently the consequence of not moving isn’t severe enough, so I’m moving up to a choke chain because I’m tired of his crap. I’ve had 2 MRIs and a trip to the ER because of injuries caused when he’s seen a cat (I have to walk two puppies at the same time at least once a day – at least she’s smaller and more easily reigned in).
You want to try to block the dog from hearing the sounds. Since you obviously cannot sound proof your entire apartment, a great solution is to buy a fan and leave it on. In most cases this is more than enough to distract the dog and the sound made will stop him from hearing what happens on the outside. If this fails, you can turn on your radio and leave it like that when you are not home. The dog will be intrigued and can often remain near the radio and listen to what is said there, with zero focus to the outdoors.
If your dog is bored, getting a companion may help. Consider fostering through a rescue organisation. That way you are not necessarily committing, in case you end up with two problem barkers! You could also arrange a play-date with a friends dog, or think about booking your dog into doggy day-care.
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.
Matthijs B.H. Schilder and Joanne A.M. van der Borg studied behavioral effects of electric shock collars and came to the conclusion that shocked dogs showed more stress-related behavior than the control dogs dogs controlled via human discipline instead of no-bark collars — the shocked dogs connected their handlers with getting shocks, and may even connect orders given by their handlers with getting shocked. What does this mean? Schilder and Borg conclude that, while they have not proven that the long-term welfare of the shocked dogs is affected, it is clearly under serious threat.
“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.”
It may sound nonsensical, but the first step of this technique is to teach your dog to bark on command. Give your dog the command to “speak,” wait for him to bark two or three times, and then stick a tasty treat in front of his nose. When he stops barking to sniff the treat, praise him and give him the treat. Repeat until he starts barking as soon as you say “speak.”
Once you can open the door and your dog will stay in his spot, have someone actually come in the door. Of course your dog will break from the spot at first, but with time and practice, he’ll learn to stay in his spot when the door opens and guests come in.