If your dog’s barking has got to the stage where you are considering using a bark collar, before you do, please speak to a qualified behaviourist. You can contact one through your vet, or visit the Animal Behaviour and Training Council website. If you rehomed your dog from Blue Cross, simply get in touch with the centre you rehomed your pet from for free, expert behavioural advice.
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” 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.
You can also prevent undesirable behavior by reducing the chances of those situations arising. For example, if your dog barks for your help whenever her ball rolls underneath the couch, try putting something under the couch to block her toys from rolling under there.
The goal is to get your dog used to whatever it is that’s causing the barking. For example, if your dog barks at people outside the window then sit with him as he looks out the window. When someone approaches pull out the treats, tell him “quiet,” and wait for your dog to stop barking. When he does, praise him and give him a treat. Gradually increase the time he must be quiet before giving a treat. The goal here is to get your dog to associate the stimulus with positivity (rather than barking).
Consistency with this concept is key. You have to train your dog to understand that being quiet results in a reward. This means only letting your dog out of the crate when they are calm. It means only petting your pup when they are exhibiting relaxed behaviors.
If your dog is bored, getting a companion may help. Consider fostering through a rescue organisation. That way you are not necessarily committing, in case you end up with two problem barkers! You could also arrange a play-date with a friends dog, or think about booking your dog into doggy day-care.
While I wouldn’t reward a dog barking to boss you into getting their dinner, I would respond to an empty water bowl or a request to go to the bathroom. Part of being a good dog owner is learning to understand your dog’s barks, and to respond to genuine needs.
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.
Talk to your neighbor. Many people jump straight to drastic measures instead of simply talking to the neighbor about their concerns. Unless you’re on bad terms with your neighbor, the best way to solve this problem is usually to just talk to him or her about it. You could casually approach your neighbor next time you see him or her outside, or write a note asking to set up a time to talk.
PerfectFit harnesses have tiny sizes (for tiny dogs, ferrets, etc.), so if Victoria’s don’t yet come in the size you need, you could have a look on dog-games.co.uk (they also have a list of stockist worldwide on the site should you wish to have one fit in person).
Tell your dog to stop barking using a look, a sound, or a physical correction. But don’t stop there. Your dog may pause and then go right back to what he was doing. His body relaxed, but his brain was still on alert. Be patient. Wait until your dog completely submits before you go back to what you were doing.
If you feel you do not have the time or the money to train your dog, I urge you for your own sake and the sake of others around you to really consider whether a dog is right for you at this point in your life. Owning a dog in many ways is similar to having a child, as you are responsible for the dog’s welfare and are there to be the dog’s companion as well as his provider. This is not a light responsibility, and lasts for rest of your pet’s life.