A young, energetic dog craves lots of exercise and attention from you. Thirty minutes to an hour of vigorous exercise in the morning will go a long way toward helping your dog settle down. For the first few weeks, you may need to have someone come over at lunch to exercise him again.
Does your dog bark for attention? Don’t give him any! None at all – even stern reprimands count as attention. He has no idea what “quiet” means; yelling “quiet!” will only make it worse. He’ll think you’re joining in the barking game. Reward him with your attention when he’s calm and not barking. Teach a cue for being quiet. It’s a good trick to have in your dog’s bag for when he’s out with you and barking isn’t welcome.
When your dog can consistently stay on his spot for at least 30 seconds, with you standing in front of him, you can start moving toward the door. Say the cue “Go to your spot,” walk with your dog to his spot, ask him to sit or lie down and ask him to stay. At first, just turn your head away from your dog. Then turn back to give him a treat and release him from the stay. After a few repetitions, make things a little harder. After your dog is sitting or lying down on his spot, ask him to stay and then take one step toward the door. Return immediately, give your dog a treat and then release him from the stay with your release word or phrase. Gradually increase the number of steps that you take away from your dog and toward the door. Eventually you’ll be able to walk all the way to the door and back while your dog stays sitting or lying down on his spot. (Don’t forget to keep rewarding him for staying!) If your dog stands up or leaves his spot before you release him from the stay, say “Oops!” the moment he gets up. Then immediately tell him to sit or lie down on his spot again and stay. Wait a few seconds and then release him. You may have progressed too fast. Next time, make the exercise a little easier so your dog can succeed. Ask him to stay for a shorter period of time and don’t move as far away from him. When he’s successful at an easier level, you can gradually make the exercise harder again. Never end your dog’s stay from a distance. Instead, always return to him, say “Yes,” give him a treat, and then say “Okay” to release him.
The problem with shouting at a dog is that it thinks that you are upset as well. The problem is that it does not blame itself for your distress. It thinks that you are concerned about the threat too. Also, if you carry on shouting at your dog, it actually thinks you are joining in, thereby reinforcing its initial alert. I once met a couple whose dog would bark non-stop for 30 minutes. The only reason it stopped after a half-hour was because the wife’s voice stopped working, she screamed at it for so long.
While industry claims that no harm is done to the dog, obviously the stimulus, or sensation, provided by the no-bark collar is not something the dog likes. If it didn’t hurt them, they wouldn’t worry about barking freely despite the consequences. That being said, we don’t know of any severe injuries or deaths caused by no-bark collars, and if the dog learns not to bark, it won’t be shocked anymore. We can’t help but wonder how this is restraining some of dogs’ natural functions, however, or causing undue stress and anxiety. Furthermore, consider the fact that in Europe, electric shock no-bark collars are illegal.
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.
In the “less-barking” category, the guarding breeds tend to reserve their formidable vocalizing for serious provocation. Sight hounds also lean toward the quiet side, preferring to chase their quarry rather than bark at it. Then, of course, there’s the Basenji -a somewhat primitive African breed of dog who doesn’t bark – but he sure can scream!
Think twice before ignoring. Of course another less preferable way is to ignore the barking and wait for it to go away. In a crate or enclosed area this may work (particularly with a puppy who is learning to settle) but if the dog is outside or in a large area then the barking itself can be self-rewarding. In many instances there are multiple stimuli occurring which will encourage the dog barking. In my opinion, dogs should never be left outside unsupervised or unaccompanied. Go out with your dog and do not allow him to run the fence, race down the hedgerow chasing the cars, or barking at the person walking by. Show your control and confidence in handling these situations and be the leader of your pack. Have him on a leash or a long line so that you can reinforce your commands and maintain control without shouting or becoming agitated.
Whenever you leave the house, try giving your dog a puzzle toy stuffed with food. Something hollow that can be stuffed with treats, spray cheese, or low-fat peanut butter will keep your dog occupied for at least 20 to 30 minutes, which may be long enough for her to forget that she was afraid of you leaving.
While barking at people outside or at the door (including you and your family), if your dog is also wagging his tail, crying, and jumping, this is a greeting bark, and must be handled differently than territorial barking. Greeting barks are friendly, but can still be annoying to you and your neighbors. Here are a few tips to help control the barking.
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.
Especially with the larger breeds, there is this necessity be active at all times. If there is not much space available indoors, the dog will become frustrated. The same thing happens when he is not allowed to play. What you want to do is create an area where the dog can play. This is where you put all his favorite toys and you let him do whatever he wants.
First, get your dog excited by ringing the doorbell, knocking on a wall or whatever you know will start him barking. Say your command word, such as ‘speak’ and pair it with a treat. When your dog is consistently barking when you say ‘speak’, you can then say ‘quiet’ and give a treat. Your dog will have to stop barking to get the treat.