No matter why your dog is barking, some general training will help keep his mind occupied and wear him out. A tired dog is a happy dog. Regular walks in the morning can help, even just a 15 minute walk around the block is better than nothing. Two walks a day would be perfect. If you work long hours, consider a dog walker, doggy daycare, a play-date with a friend’s dog or asking a someone to visit in the middle of the day.
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.
See what works best for your dog and go from there! Use the same techniques below, but once you get your dog’s attention, move them into a room where they are more protected from the cause of the barking. It might also help your nervous dog to soothingly talk and pet him until he calms down.
If your dog likes toys, keep a favorite toy near the front door and encourage him to pick up the toy before he greets you or guests. If he learns to hold a toy in his mouth, he’ll be less inclined to bark. (He’ll probably still whine, however).
When your dog starts barking, ask him to do something that’s incompatible with barking. Teaching your dog to react to barking stimuli with something that inhibits him from barking, such as lying down in his bed.
He continues, “As I have always stated, the completion of the bad behavior is a reward. So you letting your dog play out actions like barking is actually reinforcing it to your dog. It also makes sense that the longer your dog has had this problem, quite often the more difficult it will be to correct.”
You are exactly right. People who are lucky enough to not have a dog that barks a ridiculous amount don’t know the frustration of this problem for owners and neighbor. Pretty sweet to get a dog early enough to train it not to do this. Many dog owners have dogs that have already developed constant barking and something had to be done to be fair to the neighbors who are the biggest sufferers.
To better understand the process of extinction which is the process of a behavior diminishing and eventually ending, we can compare a dog’s behavior to a big fire. Giving in to a behavior as barking in the morning is adding fuel to the fire. The behavior increases, becomes stronger and is harder to extinguish. If the fuel is not added, the behavior over time, will likely become smaller and easier to extinguish.
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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.
If ‘free time’ is a rather large chunk of your dog’s day, it might be a good idea to up their exercise time (walks, playing in garden) and/or mental stimulation (training, use of food toys, scent games) in order to tire them out and simply give them something to do that isn’t barking.