If you want to find out more about what makes your dog tick, and what to do about any unwanted behaviour you may be experiencing, then The Dog Listener by Jan Fennell (my Mum) is available at your local library, online and in all good bookstores. If you would like more hands-on help, let me know.
It is difficult to learn how to get a dog to stop barking is he has separation anxiety or barks compulsively. The help of a veterinary behaviorist should be considered. Likewise, medication may be needed to treat these issues.
At the “more” end of the continuum, the scent hounds are programmed to give voice to announce the presence of their quarry. Thus Beagles, Coonhounds, Foxhounds, and others in this group are quite vocal – although they do tend to bay rather than yap. Most of the herding breeds are easily incited to bark. Skilled at telling a recalcitrant sheep or cow to back off, these Type-A workaholic dogs also delight in playing the role of noisy fun police. Many of the toy breeds also have a well-deserved reputation for barkiness as do the terriers.
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The first step towards controlling excessive barking is to understand the specific reasons behind it. Even after you know the why, don’t expect to wave a magic wand and stop your dog from barking. Training your dog to bark less (you will never stop it altogether) is a time-consuming process. Also keep in mind that some breeds are more apt to bark than others and these could prove more difficult to train.
You want some control over your dog’s voice, but don’t lose sight of the value of his vocal communications; he may be trying to tell you something important. If you ignore him you might find your horses on the highway, the house burned to the ground, or Timmy in the well.
Demand barking is easiest to extinguish early. The longer a dog successfully demands stuff, the more persistent he’ll be if you try to ignore him. However, ignoring him is the best answer to this behavior. No treats, no attention – not even eye contact. The instant the demand behavior starts, utter a cheerful “Oops!” and turn your back on your dog. When he’s quiet, say, “Quiet, yes!” and return your attention – and treat – to him.
Puppy barking drives owners and neighbors crazy—it can’t be totally eliminated so don’t expect to stop it. Dog barking is one of the most common behavior complaints, but this normal puppy communication becomes a problem only if puppies aren’t taught proper limits.
Offer him a treat when he stops barking. This creates a connection between the action done and the treat. In time, he can learn the command Quiet and whenever he hears it, he will just stop barking because he knows that this is what you want the dog to do.
I have taught this to puppies. All you have to do is put the leash on him (don’t pick it up and walk, don’t tug on it, don’t hold it, just let it drag), and feed him or play with him while he has it on. Also let him walk with it on him while he has it on, even though you’re not doing anything with him. You will need a few repetitions of this. Eventually, pick up the leash and hold it while you’re playing a game, he’s being fed, or just wandering around. Again, don’t try to tug on it, just let it hang loose while he does his thing. You will start to get to a point where you can start to lead him while he has it on. Hope this helps!
If you have a backyard area, even if it is not fenced in, you can create the play area. This is actually recommended. Whenever the dog is bored and starts barking uncontrollably, all you have to do is let him play.
I think I’ll start using “thank you” with our German Shepherd, Thor. He is a big talker and like Ginger, he has different ‘words’ for different things. Whining for ‘I’m lonely’, a higher pitched bark for ‘pay attention to me/play with me’ and his Big Loud Alert/Protection bark.
We don’t necessarily want to stop dog barking though, especially when the barking is an alarm alerting us to danger, or perhaps warding off an intruder. But we do want to stop dog barking when we ask them to, and we don’t want them to bark if there is no reason. Some dogs will bark at the slightest noise, disturbance or movement. Often, although barking could be in the breed’s instinct, the owner has unknowingly reinforced the behavior. If we shout at the dog that is barking he may think we are joining in. If we tell him gently to be quiet or give him affection, he may mistakenly think we like it and sees this calm voice as praise for barking.
An example of this is a dog barking outside in the yard unattended. One thing that works around here is I leash walk the Collie in the yard before taking him off leash. This gives Finn a chance to chill a bit and the squirrels a chance to flee, without the added satisfaction my dog gets of driving them away. For many of us, it means just not opening the dog and sending the dogs out to play in the yard unattended to bark.
Positive reinforcement is the best way to train a dog, but if your neighbor isn’t taking training seriously, it may fall on you to correct the barking dog’s behavior. A dog whistle makes a noise that won’t disturb humans and won’t harm dogs, but the high frequency will annoy any pooch that can hear it. When the neighbor’s dog starts barking, give the whistle a blow. It may cause more barking at first, but if the pup comes to associate its barking with the irritating whistle sound, it will eventually stop barking to avoid the noise.
The answer here is obvious, and relatively easy: Bring the dog inside. Many outdoor barkers are perfectly content to lie quietly around the house all day, waiting for you to come home, and sleep peacefully beside your bed at night.