But first the good news. If your dog continues to keep you up at night, even after you have tried every humane method to calm it down, you’re far from alone. As the owner of two Chihuahuas, the notoriously “yappy” dogs, I have been woken up many a night from a deep and restful sleep for no good reason at all. In fact, Chihuahuas were named by the Houston Chronicle as one of the loudest dog breeds — along with breeds like beagles, huskies, dachshunds, terriers and basset hounds.
Anti-bark collars are punishment devices that shock, make an ultrasonic noise, or spray citronella when a dog barks. They are not good first choices for solving barking problems, especially when the barking is based on fear, anxiety or compulsion. Before using an anti-bark collar, you should consult with a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, a Veterinary Behaviorist, or a Certified Professional Dog Trainer. These should only be considered when all other methods have failed.
Other off-collar devices can work well if your dog barks in a set area. Bark-activated water sprayers or noisemakers switch on when they pick up barking, shooting water at your pet or emitting an irritating sound. These can sometimes break a dog of barking in a given area, but they work best if you are home to reward your pet when he stops barking. That helps reinforce what you want your dog to do.
Patrick has been a long-time dog adopter and currently lives with his two dogs – Tarzan and Loki – in Brooklyn, NY. He is a certified dog trainer, writer on all things dogs, animal shelter volunteer, freelancer researcher of animal sciences and aspiring author.
Does your dog bark at the doorbell? Do you not even have a door bell, but your dog barks at ones on TV? Does your dog bark at car horns? When certain people come over? All these things and more! can be addressed with training and desensitization. They do not just up and go away on their own. You have to work at it. My next blog post will be a How to – Desensitization.
Uncontrolled barking might be triggered by a noise or object that catches their attention and startles them. This can happen anywhere and not just at home. If it does happen at home it could possibly be part of territorial or protective barking.
Other medical problems can also cause excessive barking. For example, a brain disease or a dog who is in chronic pain. Older pets may also develop a form of canine senility that could cause uncontrollable barking. Have your pet checked by a veterinarian to rule out any medical conditions as reasons for excessive vocalizations.
Each type of barking serves a distinct function for a dog, and if he’s repeatedly rewarded for his barking—in other words, if it gets him what he wants—he can learn to use barking to his benefit. For example, dogs who successfully bark for attention often go on to bark for other things, like food, play and walks. For this reason, it’s important to train your dog to be quiet on cue so that you can stop his attention-related barking and teach him to do another instead—like sit or down—to get what he wants.
Incidentally, while I was at the home of the 30-minute barker, he started to do his thing. I casually called out “Thank you”, and he trotted back into the living room and sat down. This was quickly followed by two thuds as the owners’ jaws hit the floor…
Ok, our’s goes nuts when she sees an animal on TV (lunging, snarling and barking). She goes nuts when someone rides by on a bike or skateboard (lunging, snarling and barking). She goes nuts when someone walks by on the sidewalk (lunging, snarling and barking). She goes nuts if she sees any animal….ever (lunging, snarling and barking). She goes nuts if kids play in their yards (lunging, snarling and barking). She goes nuts if a neighbor mows their lawn (lunging, snarling and barking). I’ve been trying to train her by providing instant, unwavering correction, but she is unable to resist her instincts. She is unable to break her focus without being strongly corrected. Frankly, I’m sick of fighting with her. I’m for the bark collar or a remote controlled training collar.
Even since spring came by and I started working outside, he barks constantly. He barks when he’s outside, when he’s in the house, when I’m asleep. At first I thought that’s because he wasn’t getting enough attention but even when I play with him he barks. I can’t do anything without him constantly driving me insane.
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.
Consult an expert. There are many different types of dog behavior specialists, each with their own unique qualifications. No matter what kind of expert you choose, you should always check the person’s qualifications and look for recommendations or reviews online. If you can’t find an expert online, ask your vet for recommendations on an expert who can help your dog with her unique needs.
You’ve probably never had a dog that has a penchant for barking. It is indescribably miserable, and it makes everyone around the dog miserable. We tried everything at first. Our dog is a terrier. He wants to chase and bark at every dog, squirrel, cat, or shadow that walks by our house. He sits in the window. Waits by the glass door. Goes outside and barks and chases. It’s clearly in his DNA. I can’t cover up every window or door in my house. He would be super miserable if we did.
Personally I feel horrible about it but we just had to get a shock collar for our dog today. We own a town home and today our neighbor told us she called our association and reported us for his barking. He’s always been a very well behaved, easily trainable dog, so we decided to let him stay out of his crate while away since we hate having to lock him up when we leave for extended hours occasionally. Day 1: absolutely great. He stayed in the baby gated area. Day 2: did not go well at all. He escaped the area, ate the cat food, pooped all over the house, chewed up tons of things… Behavior that he has never displayed before even when left out briefly. He was put back in the crate and ever since we’ve been having issues. He tries to escape it. He’s somehow dented it and he’s only 40 pounds. Tried covering and he ate the blanket. He’s even got scratch marks on his face from trying to escape and when he does, he destroys everything. Again this is a dog that has always been happy, never barked, never chewed anything up, never misbehaved. The only naughty things he did prior was potty a couple times as a puppy and I caught him licking my pizza when I went to use the restroom… Other than that he gets nothing but compliments on his great behavior. We moved his kennel to different areas of the house. We’ve left TVs on for background noise. But nothing works. This is brand new behavior and we have had him almost 2 yrs since he was 4 months. Our neighbor constantly is complaining and calling us that he’s barking when we leave. The issue is we have only caught him 1x. We’ve definitely tried the whole routine of acting as if we’re leaving hoping we’ll catch and correct him. Putting him away and everything but quietly standing in the house for up to a half hour and heard absolutely nothing. We’ve caught him once when we came home where we could hear him outside barking from inside. Our neighbor has called us asking when we are coming home and just basically harassing us. It doesn’t help that she doesn’t work, so she is always home. We have tried numerous attempts to give him positive reinforcement taking him for walks, giving him treats, and giving him lots of love and affection before putting him in his crate. The neighbor still calls complaining. Nothing works. This is behavior that’s been going on for about six weeks. We had to get the shock collar because we really had no other choice except for let him continue then get more calls to our association and be told that we’re not allowed to have him anymore.
Best case scenario, the neighbors will be able to put their heads together to come up with a good solution that doesn’t leave anyone feeling ostracized. However, if the dog owner is unreceptive and the barking continues unchecked, you may have to change tacks and get authorities involved.
When your dog barks at people passing by or at the door, you will allow a limited number of barks, three or four, before giving the command “quiet.” Call your dog to you or go to him and gently hold his muzzle. Repeat the command “quiet” in a calm definitive voice. Release his muzzle and call him to you and ask him to “sit.” Praise and give him a treat if he complies. If he doesn’t, repeat the steps. Continue to give him praise and treats until the people are have passed by completely or come inside your home. Use these same steps when he barks at people from the yard.
Continue to recruit people to help you practice “Go to Your Spot” exercises until your dog reliably goes to his spot and stays there until you release him by saying “Okay.” At this point, your dog should be able to perform his new “Go to Your Spot” skill perfectly about 90 percent of the time during training sessions. The hardest part for your dog will be going to his spot and staying there in real-life situations, when he hasn’t been able to do a few warm-up repetitions. To prepare your dog for times when real visitors arrive, ask friends who already know your dog well to drop by randomly when you’ll be home. Then ask friends who don’t know your dog well to drop by. With plenty of practice, your dog will be able to go to his spot and stay there, even when neither of you knows who’s at the door!
When your dog can consistently stay in a sit or a down on his spot for 30 seconds, while you turn away and walk to your front door, you can start to introduce some distractions. Tell your dog to stay, and then do something distracting. At first make your distractions mild. For example, start by bending down or doing a single jumping jack. Over many sessions of training, gradually intensify your distractions to things like running a few steps or tossing a treat on the floor. Reward your dog quickly after each distraction for holding the stay. If he breaks the stay, quickly say “Uh-uh,” ask him to sit or lie down on his spot, and try again. When your dog can stay while you do all sorts of distracting things, ask him to stay while you go to the front door of your home and pretend to greet someone there. Your goal is for him to learn to stay the entire time you’re at the door.
There are also high-frequency noise emitters that you can place outside. These will respond to barking and emit a noise similar to the dog whistle. Hopefully this will correct the behavior. These solutions might work, but just be aware that other dogs that live nearby may also be bothered by the noise even if they aren’t the ones doing the barking.
Dogs are social animals who like to live in family groups and it is common for them to become upset when they are left on their own for longer than they feel comfortable with. This is called ‘separation anxiety’ and we have lots of information about this here.
This is what’s generally known as “Separation Anxiety” because your dog after separation becomes anxious. I should add here that this stress results not only in barking, but can also manifest in destructive behaviour, chewing, injuring themselves, escaping, and excessive digging.
I have heard about these “no-bark” collars before, and as before, I am shocked and appalled by the very idea that anyone would choose to do this to their beloved animals. If you are new to pet ownership and think this would be a good way to train your dog to not bark, do your research. Read books and training manuals, and talk to kennel owners, Humane Society volunteers, and professional trainers, and find out what people who are heavily involved and invested in the welfare of dogs really think about the no-bark collars. Because these collars are no good, and certainly anyone with any sense of how to treat a dog would ever seriously consider using one of these devices.
Eventually, when real visitors come to your home, you can ask your dog to go to his spot as soon as they knock or ring the doorbell. After letting your guests in, ask them to sit down. Wait about one minute before releasing your dog from his spot to greet them. Put your dog on a leash if you think he might jump on your guests or behave aggressively. After a minute or two of allowing your dog to greet people, ask him to lie down at your feet and stay. Give him something to keep him busy, such as a rawhide or a puzzle toy stuffed with something really tasty, like low-fat cream cheese, spray cheese or low-fat peanut butter, frozen banana and cottage cheese, or canned dog food and kibble. After your dog finishes with the rawhide or the KONG, he’ll probably go to sleep. If you repeat the ritual above for a while, your dog should learn to settle down calmly when guests visit your home.
There was a time when the thought of getting a kiss from Rusty would not have been a good thing. Rusty is a rescue dog and shortly after adopting him, we discovered that he ate his own poop! Fortunately, he no longer does this, and his kisses are a whole lot more pleasant.
Because extinction undergoes some interesting processes, it is worth learning why the act of not getting up still causes your dog to bark or even causes it to increase in intensity and duration. This behavior can be explained as ”extinction bursts”. What happens in an ”extinction burst” is the behavior increases temporarily, enough to have dog owners believe that the act of not getting up is not working.
While all of these causes can trigger dog barking at night, for Joel Silverman, professional dog trainer seen on Good Dog U on Animal Planet, the solution is simple. When asked about the main culprit behind nighttime barking, Silverman says, “Just stand up and take a look in the mirror.”
So what is treatment plan? Eventually, your dog will have some pauses in between barking. These pauses must be used to your advantage. Only get up when there is quiet. If you are getting up and the barking resumes, walk back to your bedroom. Make sure your dog takes notice of this. She has to hear that her barking is what causes you to not open her door. Quiet brings you closer to opening her room, while barking gets you more distant. Being smart, and looking for rewards, dogs eventually learn that quiet becomes reinforcing and it will eventually replace barking which should gradually extinguish.
Response to Stimulus: Dogs also bark when they hear or see something interesting. For example, if your dog barks or howls when a fire truck siren screams by, it isn’t necessarily to guard you. Some dogs just want to join in or let you know something different is happening.
Continue the training. Don’t stop at discontinuing barking for attention. Continue your training to eventually cover all aspects of request/attention-seeking barking. Eventually, your dog will learn to wait patiently whether she wants to play, eat, or receive pets.
Luckily, most dogs will quickly learn that being quiet will result in more rewards and attention through training and positive conditioning. While it may take a bit more effort on the front end, your ears and neighbors will appreciate the investment in training your dog to embrace their inner peace and quiet.
The first two categories are definitely the most common types of dog barking. The first, separation anxiety, obviously occurs when you are not around. The second category may occur when you are home but will also occur when you are not. In most cases the territorial barking probably increases as you are not there to stop it and the dog may become more defensive when you are not there. Obviously to stop dog barking when you are not there is a far more difficult proposition.
Once you determine the cause of your dog’s excessive barking, you can begin to control the behavior. The best way to prevent barking in the first place is to try and remove any potential sources of the behavior. You also want to be certain not to inadvertently encourage the barking. Finally, give her better things to do besides barking.