A behavior chain is a series of behaviors strung together. Your dog may learn to bark once or twice to get you to turn your back, say quiet, and feed him a treat. His short behavior chain is “bark – then be quiet.” To avoid this, be sure to acknowledge and reward him frequently before he even starts barking.
It is understandable that a dog barking all the time can be annoying and even distressing, but if this happens when you are at home and you know that your dog is barking at something outside, try thanking it instead of what you may have one before. You are letting your dog know that you are aware of the situation and (most importantly) you are calm. This is vital in encouraging a dog to calm down. If you get animated and/or annoyed, the dog feels your adrenalin level rise too. The thing it is barking at must be a problem in that case.
You can avoid yanking by motivating your dog to follow you with an excited voice to get his attention. When he is following you and the leash is relaxed, turn back and continue on your way. It might take a few turns but your vocal cues and body language will make it clear that pulling will not be reinforced with forward movement, but walking calmly by your side or even slightly in front of you on a loose leash will allow your dog to get to where he wants to go.
Reward good behavior. When your dog finally does stop barking, it’s important that you praise and reward her for her silence. Over time, your dog will learn that being silent and obedient will achieve greater results than acting out and barking.
Of course with all dog training the more your dog takes notice of YOU the better! (Something I’ll explain a bit more later on…) So if your dog is not taking a blind bit of notice then we need to go back a couple of steps and get their focus and attention first!
Call the relevant authority to report a noise complaint. Find out what town hall/council/municipal office or other relevant authority to call so you can file a report on your neighbors for a noise complaint.The authorities will talk to the dog owner and assess the situation. They will usually inform you of the outcome. If nothing changes, call again a few days later.
Obsessive/Compulsive barking which is identified as excessive barking for no apparent reason or at things that wouldn’t bother other dogs. This may be accompanied by other compulsive behaviors such as spinning or jumping.
Instead, use your positive interrupt to invite your dog to you, and calmly put him in another room or on a tether – then greet your visitors. You may want to tape a note to your door advising guests that you are training your dog and it may take you a moment or two to answer the door, so they don’t give up and go away.
Interesting, what if your dog barks at everyone, everything, and sometimes nothing at all beyond the fence line in our yard? Sometimes he just runs around the house barking, doesn’t matter how much exercise he gets, doesn’t matter if I teach him quiet and give him treats, he will bark at people, dogs, squirrels, the air immediately when he’s outside driving neighbors nuts I’m sure.
Whenever you leave the house, try giving your dog a puzzle toy stuffed with food. Something hollow that can be stuffed with treats, spray cheese, or low-fat peanut butter will keep your dog occupied for at least 20 to 30 minutes, which may be long enough for her to forget that she was afraid of you leaving.
You don’t want to discourage your dog from playing, but play barking can get annoying at times. If you have more than one dog and they bark when playing together, build a set routine of times and places where it is okay. When you are playing with your dog, encourage the use of toy-based games to decrease the amount of barking.
“Demand barking tends to be shorter—a single bark or a few in quick succession. There are more pauses in between, and the dog is usually at you or the thing they want. It’s much more controlled,” she says.
It’s always important to consider the alternatives to no-bark collars, such as traditional disciplinary measures, or other means which avoid inflicting physical or emotional pain or stress on the dog. If it’s possible, it’s best to discipline dogs in this way, as we’re sure you’ve seen on various episodes of the Dog Whisperer, rather than to cause any unnecessary suffering by using a no-bark dog collar.
Bark collars. And finally there are bark collars that automatically set off an interrupter when the dog wearing the bark collar barks. Some bark collars emit a noise, some bark collars a blast of air or citronella and some use an electric stimulation between two points on the collar that limit the feeling to that area. They can all work. My experience has been that the electronic one is the most successful and most important only the dog wearing it feels the interrupter. The citronella spray bark collar and the noise bark collar can be triggered if other dogs close by are barking. With any form of bark collar, however, I would recommend you seek expert advice before using one.
Research your town or city’s anti-barking laws. Look online at your town or city’s codes, by-laws or dog legislation. There may be a code against unruly pets or incessant barking at night; many places have legislation or regulations in place that deal specifically with dogs and/or noise. There might also be a code covering ignoring requests from neighbors.
Be assertive in your physical posture. Focus your body and calm energy on blocking the dog from the stimulus that seems to be causing the barking. Concentrate and remain calm to let your dog know that you are in charge and that the dog doesn’t need to worry about the stimulus.
If the “Quiet” procedure is ineffective after 10 to 20 attempts, then allow your dog to bark 3 to 4 times, calmly say “Quiet,” and then immediately make a startling noise by shaking a set of keys or an empty soda can filled with pennies. If your dog is effectively startled by the sound, he’ll stop barking. The instant he does, call him away from the door or window, ask him to sit, and give him a treat. If he stays beside you and remains quiet, continue to give him frequent treats for the next few minutes until whatever triggered his barking is gone. If he resumes barking right away, repeat the sequence. If this procedure doesn’t work after 10 to 20 attempts, please see our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, for information about finding a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB or ACAAB), a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB) or a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) for guidance.
Some people don’t recognize that petting a dog in the middle of barking, in the dog’s mind, is rewarding their behavior. You may think that you’re calming them down, but you’re really reinforcing that response. Remember, don’t reward what you don’t want repeated.