Do not punish your dog for barking at certain sounds, like car doors slamming and kids playing in the street, but then encourage him to bark at other sounds, like people at the door. You must be consistent!
Besides boredom and frustration, one of the major reasons dogs bark is territorial. To you, it’s just the mailman, but to your dog, it’s a vicious robber there to attack their master. You can’t stop receiving your mail, but there are lots of things you can do to desensitize your pet and make your home a haven away from negative external stimulus.
One tool that may help with this training is a head halter. It looks somewhat like a combination collar/muzzle, but it allows the dog to breath and drink. Used with supervision (never leave it on the dog when he is alone), it may have a controlling and calming effect on your walks and at home, reducing the likelihood of barking. A head halter does not replace training, rewards and praise, but is a tool to help you in your counter-bark training.
Go for a walk around the block with your dog on leash. Use the interrupt when he’s sniffing a bush, or eyeing garbage in the gutter. Start with mild to moderate real-life distractions if possible, but if a major distraction presents itself, including a stimulus that causes him to bark, give it a try!
*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.
The point is this: Dealing with a dog that won’t stop barking day or night is frustrating for everyone. Figuring out the behavioral problem that is causing your dog’s barking could save your sanity and keep the peace.
Attention-seeking: When you hear this bark, you will usually know just what it means. This bark says “Hey! Hey! Look! Here I am!” Other dogs may whine and bark together to get attention, almost like the tone of a whining child.
Puppy barking drives owners and neighbors crazy—it can’t be totally eliminated so don’t expect to stop it. Dog barking is one of the most common behavior complaints, but this normal puppy communication becomes a problem only if puppies aren’t taught proper limits.
There’s a reason we get scared of things that go bump in the night — as humans, we fear the unknown, and dogs also feel the same nighttime anxiety. “If a dog is fearful, they may bark at any noise they hear that is scary to them or startles them. They may also bark as an ‘alarm’ to tell those around that something is going on that they should be aware of,” says Ganahl.
I know first hand the frustration of dealing with a barking dog. Trust me, I have a Chihuahua! While inappropriate barking can make you want to pull your hair out at times, it’s important to remember that it’s a natural behavior for your pup. Barking is the way he communicates and of course he’s going to feel the need to alert you when an intruder is approaching (by “intruder” I really mean a friendly neighbor)!
You can use the positive interrupt to redirect a frenzy of frustration barking. If you consistently offer high value treats in the presence of frustration-causing stimuli, you can counter-condition your dog to look to you for treats when the cat strolls by (cat = yummy treats) rather than erupt into a barking fit.
The key thing is to realise that your dog or puppy’s barking has got NOTHING to do with boredom! This means that trying to keep your dog occupied by leaving bones down and loads of chews and toys stuffed with peanut butter are unlikely to work. In fact it can make things much worse, so pick up the food.
Teach “hush”: (helpful for territorial barkers and alarm barkers, as well as some excitement and play barkers) sometimes we want our dog to bark for a short time to alert us to people at the door, but many of us would like to be able to stop the barking after a few minutes. Teaching your dog the “hush” command can short-circuit a dedicated barker. The next time your dog barks at something, place a treat in your hand, walk up to your dog and put your hand in front of his nose so that he can smell the treat but can’t get to it. He should stop barking to sniff at your hand. Once he’s quiet and sniffing say “hush” and toss the treat a few steps away from him. Repeat the process until you can just say “hush”’ without needing the hand prompt in front of his nose, then give him a treat. In time, you should be able to say “hush” and your dog will abandon the barking and come to you for his reward for being quiet.
It may be time to get some earplugs for these first few sessions, especially if you’ve let them train you to come when they bark. Completely ignore them and let them bark until they take a break. Then, when they are quiet, treat and reward them or let them out for quiet behavior.
Outside, you might consider putting slats in the chain link fence to cut down on his visual access to the world surrounding his yard (better yet, install a privacy fence) or put up an interior fence to block his access to the more stimulating parts of the yard. Given that alarm barking will inevitably occur, it’s also useful to teach him a positive interrupt – a cue, other than “Shut up!” that you can use to stop him in mid-bark. (See “The Positive Interrupt,” to the right of this page.)
As an example, think about barking when left alone. A dog that is very loud when left isn’t making a noise because he or she is being spiteful or wants to get you in trouble with your neighbours. The vocalization is an expression of the dog’s fear, loneliness and sometimes even panic. By strapping a device such as an electric shock collar to an upset dog, you don’t do anything to make them feel safer or more comfortable when left on their own – and what’s more, the pain confirm their fears that being left means horrible things happen to them (painful electric shocks occur every time they bark).
Before you begin any training session with a high energy dog, it’s crucial to exercise him. If your dog has too much energy during a training session he won’t be able to pay attention and listen. In order for new concepts to sink in, like learning to be quiet when asked, you first must get their overflowing energy out. High energy dogs often get bored so it’s important to know your dog’s favorite reward. A reward can be anything from a favorite toy to a delicious treat. As long as the reward gets your dog’s attention, you’ll be able to stop your dog barking with time.
Shock collars are to citronella and ultrasonic collars, but instead deliver a brief electric shock to the dog’s neck. These collars typically have a number of different settings to change how intense the shock is, and if using one of these collars it is best to use the lowest setting possible to prevent injury to the dog. Again, these should only be used as an absolute last resort.
Punishment is generally frowned upon in the veterinary behavior community, but at least in this case the punishment is not too traumatic and it does help your dog not to do the behavior. In some cases where you have received noise complaints from the neighbours, it can be a quick fix. The citronella collar and shock collar are two devices that punish the bark and are unreliable and can lead to learned helplessness. They can go off randomly while the dog is not barking and even when they work correctly, the dog usually has no idea what he is receiving punishment for.
This is really simple and every single dog owner can teach the dog how to be quiet. If not, a trainer can easily come to your home and help you out with that. The great thing about it is that teaching the dog to be quiet actually reinforces the bond between the owner and the animal.
I have a Sibercaan (Native American Indian Dog/Canaan Dog hybrid), and only stubborn persistence works. If I stop, he’ll lean into the harness continually and won’t back off. One time I tried to out wait him, but after 45 minutes I had to literally lift him off his front feet to turn him around. He has snapped a chest lead, supposed ‘large breed’ leashes, so I made a harness by serging 2″ five ton rigging strap and a leash made of 7200lb test mooring line, with a harness handle. Basically I just lift him like luggage and redirect him before I put him back down. Although he’s disappointed, it doesn’t hurt him because of the wide straps, and letting a dog strain at a standstill is terrible for their hips and paws. Manual lift and redirect is safer and faster. Granted, this is only as effective as your ability to lift the dog. He’s 110 pounds currently with 20 or so more to go, so for most people he would easily pull one off their feet in a linear tug of war. When I say lift,I’m just taking the weight off his front paws, so when he pushes with his hind paws,he just stands up, and it’s actually pretty easy to redirect him this way. I’ve had success with my neighbor’s mastiff at 178 pounds with this method, and it works with my sister’s behemoth Newfoundland retriever at 190 pounds. The biggest thing is to be patient, his breed is renowned as sled pullers, so the stop and wait thing is more like a challenge to him. If you teach them that no matter how strong they are you can still direct them in a calm manner, they generally become cooperative. Hopefully this will help some other large breed owners.
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.
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!
You can’t correct them if you’re not at home. I have a 5 year old bulldog/dalmation mix. When I rescued her, literally off the street, I lived in a house, with a yard. Unfortunately I went through a nasty divorce and she and I are forced to live in a condo. She barks all day while I’m gone. I leave the radio on, a fan…anything that will cover up noise or distract her. I walk her 3x’s a day and wear her out at night. She still barks. People don’t want to put a bark collar on their dogs. It’s unfair for you to be so condescending and judgemental. My neighbors complain constantly. What would you have people do? Put them down? Give up their pets?
Unlike their human companions, dogs aren’t able to shut out noise and distraction as easily before bed. According to Dr. Barrack, this is because dogs have such acute hearing. “Although your home or apartment might be very quiet to you, a dog can be extremely sensitive to outside noises and bark in response. Putting on a TV, radio or white noise machine might help block out some of that external noise and hopefully eliminate this cause of bedtime barking.”