You should be able to tell from your dog’s body language and behavior whether he’s barking to say “Oh, boy! Visitors! I love visitors!” or “You best be moseying along!” The first example is a greeting bark, covered later in this article. If your dog seems to display more aggressive behavior, he believes he is protecting his territory and/or defending you and your family from intruders.
Dogs naturally will bark to warn you, and this may become a problem if there are lots of things your dog sees, such as birds, cats and people walking by the fence. He may feel the need to alert you to every small thing that approaches. Sometimes it is as simple as blocking off a gate to block the stimulus of people walking past. Dogs will also bark out of boredom, or because they are worried about being alone.
When training your dog to stop barking, you should set up training exercises rather than waiting for the mailman to ring the doorbell. Begin training by doing the basics like come and stay (check out my other blog posts in the links). Be sure to reward your dog generously so that he knows to pay attention to you. Have a friend or family member do something that would typically trigger dog barking – like knock on the door. See if you can get your dog’s attention. The second he looks or even glances at you, reward him. If you can’t get your dog to stop barking after the trigger, take some steps backward. Wait until you can get your dog to do the simple tasks, like come and stay. Then, have your training partner lightly knock on the door or even tap the door with a finger. If you can get your dog’s attention, reward liberally! This may take several training session, so stick with it! Within a few weeks, you should be able to stop your dog barking!
“Barking is driven by a whole bunch of things,” says Dr. Kristina Spaulding, a certified applied animal behaviorist from upstate New York, “and while some dogs don’t bark much, they’ll sometimes find other ways to show their emotions or signal that they want something—like pawing at you, jumping, mouthing, stealing things, or finding other ways to get into trouble.”
With the static shock dog collar the mechanism that sits against the dog’s throat sends out a static shock that travels down two metal prongs that touch your dog’s neck. The static shock in some of these collars begins with a rather small shock which increases in intensity up through a variety of levels as your dog continues his or her nuisance barking. You can personally test the static shock bark collar on your hand prior to using it on your dog if you are worried about the intensity of the shock your dog will receive.
Here’s an important distinction to remember as a softhearted animal lover: Attention seeking is different from loneliness in dogs, says Ganahl. She explains, “Many dogs bark for attention, whether they want petting, the food you are eating or something else. It is important that you completely ignore your dog if you feel they are barking for attention, otherwise the barking will continue. If you tell your dog ‘quiet,’ ‘shush’ or any other vocalization to tell them to stop, that is considered attention to your dog.”
Here is a YouTube video of a trainer using a clicker to teach ‘speak’. A clicker is a noise that you pair with treats, so when you are training, your dog knows he is on the right track. You can also train this skill without a clicker and just treats.
Pet owners always think it is strange when I recommend teaching their dog to bark on command. This places the behavior under stimulus control and with one more step, you can teach your dog to be ‘quiet’ on command.
You’ve probably never had a dog that has a penchant for barking. It is indescribably miserable, and it makes everyone around the dog miserable. We tried everything at first. Our dog is a terrier. He wants to chase and bark at every dog, squirrel, cat, or shadow that walks by our house. He sits in the window. Waits by the glass door. Goes outside and barks and chases. It’s clearly in his DNA. I can’t cover up every window or door in my house. He would be super miserable if we did.
If Method #1 isn’t working after at least 10-20 sessions, add a startling noise to the “quiet” command, such as a can of pennies, a bell, even a loud single clap of your hands. This should gain his attention and you can then go through the remaining steps of calling him over, asking him to sit, and giving praise and treats until the person or noise is gone. If he begins barking immediately after you release him, repeat the steps. If after 10-20 more tries the barking hasn’t diminished you may have an obsessive or anxiety situation and should seek the advice of a professional.
If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, it is a good idea to set up a safe and quiet placed for them when you aren’t home. Choose a room in your home that is away from the front door and with limited distractions from the outside world. This can be a back bedroom, laundry room or spare space.
Remove the audience. If she barks and you come running every time, you reward the behavior. Instead, thank her then say, “HUSH.” When she stops, you should praise and give her a treat. If she keeps barking, turn your back and leave the room. Most dogs want company, so leaving tells her she’s doing something wrong. She’ll learn to be quiet if she wants you to stay and give her attention.
The sound of barking dogs in the neighborhood can quickly go from nuisance to nightmare, especially when are trying to sleep or concentrate. If you are comfortable with it, try politely approaching your neighbor to discuss the matter, or write a direct but civil letter. You may try gently suggesting a local dog trainer or behaviorist. Many people prefer to contact the neighborhood association or another group to act as a moderator. As a last resort, you may need to call the police. However, keep in mind how this could be detrimental to your future relationship with your neighbors. On the other hand, you may not even care about that after a certain amount of sleep deprivation.
Guarding: Dogs will often bark and growl when they are guarding. This bark is more aggressive. The dog may also have a stiff or wagging tail with their hackles raised. The bark is used as a warning not to come closer or they may attack to defend their space. While dogs don’t always bark before they bite, most give some kind of warning.
An example of this is a dog barking outside in the yard unattended. One thing that works around here is I leash walk the Collie in the yard before taking him off leash. This gives Finn a chance to chill a bit and the squirrels a chance to flee, without the added satisfaction my dog gets of driving them away. For many of us, it means just not opening the dog and sending the dogs out to play in the yard unattended to bark.
If your dog most often barks territorially in your car, teach him to ride in a crate while in the car. Riding in a crate will restrict your dog’s view and reduce his motivation to bark. If crating your dog in your car isn’t feasible, try having your dog wear a head halter in the car instead. (Important note: For safety reasons, only let your dog wear the halter when you can supervise him.)
Animal Control authorities will usually be responsible for enforcing noise complaints about barking dogs. Your neighbor will most likely get a formal warning, but if the noise continues, they might be issued a citation. Calling the police isn’t always the best move, as officers often have bigger problems to worry about than barking dogs. However, if you suspect abuse or neglect are causing the barking, you should absolutely get authorities involved.
You can avoid yanking by motivating your dog to follow you with an excited voice to get his attention. When he is following you and the leash is relaxed, turn back and continue on your way. It might take a few turns but your vocal cues and body language will make it clear that pulling will not be reinforced with forward movement, but walking calmly by your side or even slightly in front of you on a loose leash will allow your dog to get to where he wants to go.
You are exactly right. People who are lucky enough to not have a dog that barks a ridiculous amount don’t know the frustration of this problem for owners and neighbor. Pretty sweet to get a dog early enough to train it not to do this. Many dog owners have dogs that have already developed constant barking and something had to be done to be fair to the neighbors who are the biggest sufferers.
Consult an expert. There are many different types of dog behavior specialists, each with their own unique qualifications. No matter what kind of expert you choose, you should always check the person’s qualifications and look for recommendations or reviews online. If you can’t find an expert online, ask your vet for recommendations on an expert who can help your dog with her unique needs.
Have a treat ready every time your friend comes to the door. Even if you’ve passed the point of giving treats during regular training, you may need to use treats for applied training sessions involving an actual perceived intruder.