HI Nat, we recommend a consultation with a qualified trainer to give you some tips on how to manage or change this behavior. It is to give you good advice without seeing your pup’s behavior, I’m afraid.
Provide door drills. Ringing the bell, knocking on the door, and arrivals or departures excite puppies or sometimes scare shy pups, so associate the location and sounds with good things for the puppy. Stage arrivals at the front door with an accomplice “visitor” loaded up with treats to toss the pup to help her stop seeing visitors as threats.
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Some dog owners ‘debark’ their dogs but that is a very controversial method which does not address the underlying cause of the barking. It is a surgical procedure where the voice box is removed, leaving dogs with a raspy, instead of full, bark. There are complications and the operation can be life-threatening.
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.
Compulsive barkers bark just to hear the sound of their own voices. As with dogs suffering from separation anxiety, they will often make repetitive movements, such as running in circles or pacing along a fence.
When your dog barks, mark the desired behavior with the click! of a clicker or a verbal marker, such as the word “Yes!”, and feed him a treat. Repeat this until he’ll bark on just the cue, without the trigger. Then practice in different environments until the “bark on cue” behavior is well generalized. When his “bark on cue” is well established, you can follow it with a “quiet!” cue, so you’ll be able to turn the bark off when you want.
However, that doesn‘t mean the dog never chooses to sit of his own accord. Dogs sit all the time! The above rules apply only during actual training sessions. Having a behavior on cue and under stimulus control does not mean the dog will never choose to do the behavior on his own, or be triggered to offer the behavior by some other stimulus.
When your dog barks do you have the tendency to yell something like “NOOOOOOO” or “STOOOPPP?” While you think you’re telling your dog to stop barking, they just think you’re joining in. So yelling won’t do you much good. Instead, when your dog starts barking inappropriately it’s important to stay calm. Develop a signal that alerts your dog to stop barking. That signal could be a look, sound, or physical correction. Below, I will go over the “quiet” command.
Try bark deterrents. Bark deterrents like anti-bark collars are very unpleasant for dogs, and should only be used as a last resort when no other method has worked. Some people oppose bark collars because of the perception that these bark deterrents are punishment devices. Training works much better than punishment devices, and training will of course provide the best long-term solutions to behavioral problems, but if training hasn’t worked for your dog and your landlord has threatened eviction or police intervention, you may need to resort to a bark collar.
Get backup from other neighbors. If your neighbor ignores your requests or doesn’t make a change after you’ve asked politely, it can help to get neighbors involved. Talk to other people who live nearby to see if they’re also being kept awake by the dog. You can then talk to your neighbor again as a group. This time your requests are likely to be taken seriously.
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You surely know what your dog loves to do and what makes him tired. Make sure that you offer more of that. In many cases the problem is that the dog has too much energy so the solution to stop him from barking can be as simple as taking him for walks more often than you do right now. See if this helps. If not, it might be because he is bored at home. Buy more toys and make sure that he has a space where he can play. Eventually, you will see him tired and going to sleep. As the dog is busy, he will stop barking.
Be patient. It takes a lot of training and practice to get your dog comfortable with prolonged absences. Most of an anxious dog’s undesirable behavior will take place within the first 40 minutes that you’re gone, and it will take many, many training sessions before you can comfortably reach a 40 minute absence.
Dogs love to be outside, and the walk is a stimulating and exciting part of their day, so the desire to push ahead is very strong. Humans do not make ideal walking partners since a dog’s natural and comfortable walking pace is much faster than ours. Having to walk calmly by a person’s side when the only thing a dog really wants to do is run and investigate his environment requires a degree of impulse control that can be very difficult for some dogs to utilize.