Attention seeking: Never reward barking. If your dog barks when he wants water, and you fill the dish, you’ve taught him to bark to get what he wants. If he barks to go outside, it’s the same. So teach him to ring a bell you tied to the door handle to go out. Bang the water dish before filling it, and maybe he’ll start pushing it with his nose to make the same noise. Find ways for your dog to communicate without barking.
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Patrick has been a long-time dog adopter and currently lives with his two dogs – Tarzan and Loki – in Brooklyn, NY. He is a certified dog trainer, writer on all things dogs, animal shelter volunteer, freelancer researcher of animal sciences and aspiring author.
Don’t use a muzzle or HusherTM as a substitute for training, or while you are absent. Your dog regulates his temperature through the mouth by panting and muzzles prevent your dog from doing this as well as drinking water and eating.
What you want to do is first focus on teaching your dog the “Speak” command. This is really easy as the dog will react to you. Make sure that you practice this when the dog is not barking. After the command is learned, you want to teach the “Quiet” command. Use any trigger word that you feel comfortable with. When the dog barks, you signal him by putting your fingers to your lips and saying the trigger word. A dog naturally picks up physical signals much faster than a voice command. That is why the gesture helps. After some practice and after you hand out treats as the dog does what he is supposed to, all you need to do is calmly say the trigger word when the dog starts barking and barking will stop.
In the yard, use privacy fencing to cut off views to neighboring yards or the street. Commercial grade privacy screening installs over your existing fence and may be allowed in your rental unit. If you own your home and seek a long-term, attractive option, consider planting privacy hedges to both beautify and bark-proof the yard.
Introduce training early, and start the quiet and place commands as soon as they can understand them. This type of early positive conditioning will help ensure that your dog never becomes a problem barker in the first place.
Barking is completely normal dog behavior and stopping nuisance barking will not mean your dog won’t bark at all. They will still let you know if there is an intruder, the aim is just to get the barking to a more manageable level.
Now one way you can do this is by leaving your home calmly and then coming home calmly and ignoring your dog. (I know this may sound a bit harsh to some of you, and it may not be what you want to do, but this advice is all about doing what’s best for your dog and how to stop the barking!) Also, remember they are a different animal, and just like ignoring the cat or a goldfish when you enter the house it will not result in them being upset.
If you decide you want to give in, however, Spaulding says it’s best to do that after the first or second bark, if you can, because waiting teaches dogs they have to bark a lot to get what they want, and they may become very pushy in the future.
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.
An idle dog can be a bad thing, and one of the best ways to keep your dog out of trouble is simply to keep them busy. Lots of time barking can be a sign of pent-up energy that has no other way to get out. The good news is there are lots of products to help you do this and even DIYs you can make that will engage your dog’s brain and body. Here are a few ideas you can start with without dropping a dime:
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On walks, teach your dog that he can walk calmly past people and dogs without meeting them. To do this, distract your dog with special treats, like chicken, cheese or hot dogs, before he begins to bark. (Soft, very tasty treats work best). Show your dog the treats by holding them in front of his nose, and encourage him to nibble at them while he’s walking past a person or dog who would normally cause him to bark. Some dogs do best if you ask them to sit as people or dogs pass. Other dogs prefer to keep moving. Make sure you praise and reward your dog with treats anytime he chooses not to bark.
Once your dog is reliably going to his spot, vary where you are when you send him there. Practice asking him to go to his spot from many different angles and distances. For example, say “Go to your spot” when you’re standing a few steps to the left of it. After a few repetitions, move a few steps to the right of the spot and say, “Go to your spot” from that position. Then move to another area in the room, then another, etc. Eventually, practice standing by the front door and asking your dog to go to his spot, just as you might when visitors arrive.
If barking is a problem on your walks, using some of the same methods utilized in loose leash training may help. Hold treats in your hand, giving some out as you walk along. The idea is to encourage your dog to focus on you and not any distractions. Let him sniff and see the palmed treats from time to time so he knows what you have. Use a special treat that your dog doesn’t normally get and keep the pieces small so your dog can chew and swallow them easily while walking. Train your dog to “sit/stay” while people pass, allowing him to say hello only if the other person wants to. Praise, reward, and consistency are very important to make this work, but after a few days or a week, you should see a marked difference and can start spacing the use of treats farther apart.
With all of these different forms of barking there are a variety of approaches we can take to ensure the barking is for the right reason and we can prevent dog barking when the reason is no longer there. Much of this will come from the confidence the owner shows to his dog in being able to handle different situations. To gain this confidence the owner has to get to know his dog and the situations that create the barking. With this understanding, an owner can demonstrate calm, confident leadership and take control in the right way. The dog responds because he can trust the leader has taken charge. From the very beginning of our dog/owner partnership, we should be building a foundation that allows such trust and confidence. Remember that dog barking is one way the dog communicates to so we do not wish to prevent dog barking but we do wish to control barking as required. Learning to read your dog’s signals and means of communicating is incredibly important to your overall relationship.
If you find this technique too slow you can try the reverse direction method. When your dog pulls, issue a ‘Let’s Go’ cue, turn away from him and walk off in the other direction, without jerking on the leash.
Recognize separation anxiety. Separation anxiety can take various forms in a dog, but the most common signs of separation anxiety are destroying the house/apartment and barking incessantly. These behaviors are typically only engaged in when the dog’s owner is at work or otherwise out of the house, and if the dog is not destructive, some owners may not even be aware that their dogs have separation anxiety. Common signs of separation anxiety to look out for include:
A variety of devices are designed to teach dogs to curtail barking. Most often, these are collars that deliver an unpleasant stimulus when your dog barks. The stimulus might be a loud noise, an ultrasonic noise, a spray of citronella mist or a brief electric shock. The collars that deliver noise are ineffective with most dogs. One study found that the citronella collar was at least as effective for eliminating barking as the electronic collar and was viewed more positively by owners. Virtually all dogs become “collar-wise,” meaning that they learn not to bark while wearing their anti-bark collars but revert to barking when they’re not wearing them. Collars that work on a microphone system to pick up the sound of a dog’s bark should not be used in a multidog home because any dog’s bark can activate the collar.
This can occur inside or outside the house. However to keep things simple let’s imagine that it’s inside the house. Your dog hears a noise and jumps up, runs over to the window and starts barking at the people outside your house.