Find a replacement behavior. One of the best ways to train an animal out undesirable behavior is to teach her an alternative behavior. That way, instead of growing increasingly frustrated and irritated that you are not responding to her desires, your dog will eventually realize that if she wants to get her way, she’ll need to engage in the other, more-desirable behavior.
If you struggle to figure out why your dog is barking and the above advice has not helped, don’t panic. The reasons why dogs bark are not always as straightforward as we would like, and qualified pet behaviourists will be able to help you. Ask your vet or visit the Animal Behaviour and Training Council website to find a qualified local behaviourist who can help you and your pet.
Keep in mind that not all the dog daycare centers out there are really good. You want to meet with the people that will take care of him and fully understand what happens there. After all, you are leaving the dog with strangers. You want to be sure that the dog feels great and is treated as he should be treated. If you notice that the dog is not happy and does not enjoy his time at the center, do not force him to keep going!
Barking is completely normal dog behavior and stopping nuisance barking will not mean your dog won’t bark at all. They will still let you know if there is an intruder, the aim is just to get the barking to a more manageable level.
Why do dogs bark? Unfortunately, there is no single reason that dogs vocalize, which means that there’s no across-the-board quick fix to stop your dog from barking. It can be frustrating to live in a home with (or next door to!) a dog that barks because it’s tough to prevent barking, and even tougher to stop it once the barking is underway. The first step to curbing a dedicated barker is discovering the motivation behind the behavior then addressing the problem with a customized training solution.
Many of the “humane” methods are humane to humans. Those standards shouldn’t apply to animals. Citronella in the eyes is as painful as a quick shock. What we might prefer is not the same as what a dog might. The beauty of the shock collar is that it is over quickly, and animals (generally) learn fast. So while trying to work it out in a way that a human would prefer may work, for dogs that are persistent and stubborn barkers, these collars are quick and effective trainers. And, that method may have more to do with you and what you can stomach than what an animal might actually suffer less from.
This type of barking is a form of expression which often developed through positive reinforcement from the owner. If your dog barks to let you know he needs to go relieve himself, this is usually a good thing. When he barks because he wants your dinner or to play or go for a walk, this is less positive.
Toys: Separation barkers benefits from having something to do when you leave the house. A hard rubber toy, that dispenses treats are a great way to keep them happy, and their mouth busy with something other than barking. Just be careful that the toy is big enough not to be a chocking-hazard.
Many times we have unintentionally taught our dog to bark by reinforcing the behavior. If your dog barks in the yard and you go out and shout at him, he has gotten your attention and may even think you are joining in with your own funny little human bark. Even looking at your dog when he barks can be a reinforcer.
Dogs also bark when they’re either too cold or too hot. Many people have the misconception that dogs’ fur keeps them warm in subzero weather; it’s not the case, unless the dog is a husky. If you’ve seen the dog shivering or looking miserable in the heat of the day, tell your neighbor the dog could be barking because its uncomfortable.
Some dogs end up being distracted in just a few seconds. It is so common to see them look outside the window and then stop barking. That is because they saw something that made them enthusiastic. Such a situation is really common with the large or medium sized breeds that have a strong hunting instinct. They will see a sparrow out the window and will want to chase it. Since they cannot do that, they start barking at the sparrow.
If you are not sure what your dog is barking at or if he seems to be barking at everything, keep a bark diary. You may start to see a pattern, for example he barks at 3pm when kids are getting out of school. It might be useful to ask your neighbours to do this also, so you know when he is barking when you are not home. Your neighbours also then know you are attempting to resolve the problem.
You may have heard the suggestion that if you put a behavior such as barking on cue and have it under good stimulus control, the dog then won’t bark unless you give him the cue to speak. Here are the four rules of stimulus control:
During walks, a dog may let out an excited bark if they see another pup along the way, Spaulding says. “You’ll also see excitable barking when dogs are doing something they enjoy, like chasing a small animal or for agility dogs when they run a course.”
When he pulls, immediately stop and stand completely still until the leash relaxes, either by your dog taking a step back or turning around to give you focus. When the leash is nicely relaxed, proceed on your walk. Repeat this as necessary.
If you do want to modify play-barking behavior, use negative punishment – where the dog’s behavior makes the good stuff go away. When the barking starts, use a time-out marker such as “Oops! Too bad!” and gently remove your dog from the playground for one to three minutes. A tab – a short 6 to 12 inch leash left attached to his collar – makes this maneuver easier. Then release him to play again. Over time, as he realizes that barking ends his fun, he may start to get the idea. Or he may not – this is a pretty hardwired behavior, especially with the herding breeds. You may just resort to finding appropriate times when you allow play-barking to happen.
I leave you with a warning. If your dog is barking while tied out, or even worse barking and chasing while out on an electric fence or even in a fenced yard, you have the makings of a time bomb. Dogs who see the world just out of their reach and are allowed to live in an aroused state are the dogs will be go after things when the opportunity arises.
If your dog barks at any and every noise and sight regardless of the context, he’s probably alarm barking. Dogs engaged in alarm barking usually have stiffer body language than dogs barking to greet, and they often move or pounce forward an inch or two with each bark. Alarm barking is different than territorial barking in that a dog might alarm bark at sights or sounds in any location at all, not just when he’s defending familiar areas, such as your house, yard or car.
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.)
Before we get into how to eliminate excessive yapping, remember that you don’t want to correct all barking. After all, if someone knocks at your front door when you’re not home, wouldn’t you rather your dog bark to deter a break in?
Sometimes dogs bark for darn good reasons. I recall one January morning when I was awoken before the sun. The dogs were going ballistic. I peered out the window to see a young moose sauntering down the street!
Make helpful suggestions. It’s possible your neighbor is well aware of the issue, but isn’t sure how to get the dog to stop barking. If you’re pretty sure you know what the problem is, there’s nothing wrong with making suggestions. This is especially effective if you’re a dog owner, too. You can commiserate over how tough it can be to get a dog to stop barking. Here are a few common problems you might consider bringing up:
Use a silent dog whistle. There are mixed reviews on whether these devices work, but many have found success with them. Silent whistles make a sound that dogs can hear, but humans can’t, so your neighbors won’t even know you’re using it. Whenever the dog barks, blow the whistle. it may take a number of attempts, but eventually the dog will associate barking with the piercing noise of the whistle, and stop barking.
Before you can stop a dog from barking, it’s helpful to understand why he’s doing it. Dogs bark for all sorts of reasons, but it’s all a method of communication, says certified canine trainer and behaviorist Susie Aga, owner of Atlanta Dog Trainer.
So here are the four most common reasons that dogs and puppies bark. It’s not a comprehensive list but most dogs and puppies will fall into one of these categories. Once you’ve decided which one best describes YOUR dog, then take a look at the action plan to put an end to it once and for all.
Once your dog barks, get their attention on you. Once they stop barking to look at you, say your command. It can be “Quiet,” “Enough” or “No Bark.” The phrase doesn’t really matter as long as you are using it consistently.
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Getting a new dog means that the other dog has someone to play with. The only problem is that you want to be sure that you get the dogs to like each other. You want to talk with your vet or with a trainer and get some help with that. A great idea is to get another dog of the same breed but when this is not possible, you want to make sure that the old dog does not feel threatened. In some situations the owners will start to favor a dog and that can hurt the relationship with the other one. Make sure that you can offer equal love if you decide to get a second dog.
If she’s not receptive, or if your neighbor is such a threatening presence from the dark side that you’re not comfortable contacting her, you can file a complaint with the animal authorities in your community. Most will not disclose the identity of a complainant, but you should double-check with them to be sure. You may need to make follow-up complaints if their initial contact with the dog owner doesn’t effect an adequate change in behavior.
Crate training your puppy. A puppy barking in his crate may stop if covered with a cloth sheet so he is not stimulated to bark by what he sees. With a cover over it, the crate also feels more like a den and hence more secure. Some puppies will stop barking if allowed to sleep in their crate next to the owners’ bed, or with a belonging that smells of the owner or their siblings. When your puppy is in the crate do get to know the sounds he makes and unless it is an emergency for the bathroom do not go and open the crate or let the puppy out when the puppy barks. If you do he will learn to bark demanding to be let out and in this way tell you what to do. Sometimes a squirt bottle of water can be used to direct a spray at a puppy that barks in the crate but I have seen dogs that enjoy this too and make a game out of it. Plus, it can make quite a mess.