Saying something positive like “Thank you” or “Good dog” starts training the owner to think of barking as a positive thing, which helps the dog to calm down sooner. Remember the Dobermans in the non-burgled house?
Punishing your pet might temporarily suppress the behaviour but does nothing to change the motivation behind it. So your bored barker might stop woofing when told off, but they might find a different thing to occupy themselves with instead – very likely something you won’t approve of, either!
Now one way you can do this is by leaving your home calmly and then coming home calmly and ignoring your dog. (I know this may sound a bit harsh to some of you, and it may not be what you want to do, but this advice is all about doing what’s best for your dog and how to stop the barking!) Also, remember they are a different animal, and just like ignoring the cat or a goldfish when you enter the house it will not result in them being upset.
Don’t muzzle your dog to keep them quiet for long periods of time when they are alone. It can be dangerous to your pet. Your dog regulates his temperature through the mouth by panting and a muzzles prevents your dog from doing this, as well as drinking water and eating.
Ignore the barking. Attention-seeking or request barking may be the only way your dog knows how to behave. Even after you’ve discontinued your reinforcement of that behavior, it will most likely take a while to break your dog of the habit. In the meantime, it’s best to ignore – rather than punish – this attention-seeking behavior.
Keep greetings low key. Teach your dog to sit and stay when meeting people at the door so that he has something to do instead of barking. This will reduce his excitement level. First teach him to sit and stay when there aren’t any people at the door so that he knows the behavior well before you ask him to do it with the distraction and excitement of real visitors arriving.
Apply the quiet command. Once your dog has learned the quiet command in training sessions, you’ll need to apply the quiet command to real-world scenarios. You can do this by having a friend slam a car door in front of your house, rattle your mailbox, or approach your front door.
Before you can stop a dog from barking, it’s helpful to understand 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.
Your ﬁrst step is to gently inform your neighbor that her dog is barking excessively, and when. This is best done during the day, not with an irate phonecall when the dog wakes you up at two o’clock in the morning again. Assume she’s not aware of it, or at least not aware it’s disturbing to her neighbors.
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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.