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.
Dogs bark because it works, whether to scare off a perceived intruder, self-soothe, get attention or release frustration. Tackling your dog’s barking first requires that you identify the drive behind your dog’s vocalization. These are the most typical types of canine communication:
Block what bothers her. If your dog has barking problems whenever she sees or hears something outside, a simple solution might be to block her access to seeing or hearing that trigger. If she stands at the window and barks, try putting up curtains or blinds so she can’t see passing people or animals. If the sounds she hears outside tend to set her off, try leaving a radio on during the day to distract her and muffle the sounds outside your home.
Let’s look at this from the dog’s point of view. A dog in the home is in its den, and there are often potential threats passing by (anything could be a problem seeing as they are in a world they don’t really understand). Often, dogs will bark at the passing person/dog/bike/car/hot air balloon (this last one comes from personal experience a few years ago in the Netherlands). How many dog owners thanks their dogs for letting them know? What is the usual response to a dog barking? It’s OK, there is no need to tell me; I may not understand Dutch but I can tell if someone is happy or not…
White noise machine: (helpful for alarm barkers and territorial barkers) the machine’s steady unchanging sound is an easy way to cover incidental noises from outside like delivery trucks or people passing by that might trigger an alarm barker.
*Debarking is very controversial and is considered inhumane by many. It does not address the underlying cause of the barking. It is a surgical procedure in which the folds of tissue on either side of a dog’s larynx, or voice box, are removed, leaving dogs with a raspy bark instead of a full bark. Complications are common and can be life threatening, including breathing difficulties, higher incidents of choking, and ongoing pain. Dogs also have been known to regain their voices after the surgery. The procedure does not stop the barking, it only makes it sound different.
Interesting, what if your dog barks at everyone, everything, and sometimes nothing at all beyond the fence line in our yard? Sometimes he just runs around the house barking, doesn’t matter how much exercise he gets, doesn’t matter if I teach him quiet and give him treats, he will bark at people, dogs, squirrels, the air immediately when he’s outside driving neighbors nuts I’m sure.
This behavior is more likely to annoy you than your neighbors, but it’s annoying nonetheless. A demand barker has learned he can get what he wants – usually attention or treats – by telling you. It often starts as a gentle, adorable little grumble, and can quickly turn into insistent, loud barks – your dog’s way of saying, “I want it, NOW!”
You’ll need that calm response when his loud greetings are directed toward arriving guests, too. If you use loud verbal reprimands you add to the chaos and arousal; your dog may even think you’re barking along with him!
Obsessive/Compulsive barking which is identified as excessive barking for no apparent reason or at things that wouldn’t bother other dogs. This may be accompanied by other compulsive behaviors such as spinning or jumping.
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Most dogs will bark if there’s motion or sound — like a squirrel zipping across the lawn or a kid racing on his bike past the house. They might bark to warn off intruders at the door or other dogs that come too near the fence. Dogs might bark in excitement when you get out the leash to go for a walk or they might bark from stress when they have separation anxiety from being away from you. And some dogs just bark because they’re bored and don’t have anything else to do.
Of course you’d rush out and get them. But…what if the doors were locked and you couldn’t get out? Would you sit down, relax and have a cup of tea? Of course not. You’d shout for help and call your baby back, or try and break free so you could get back to them.