Some dogs end up being distracted in just a few seconds. It is so common to see them look outside the window and then stop barking. That is because they saw something that made them enthusiastic. Such a situation is really common with the large or medium sized breeds that have a strong hunting instinct. They will see a sparrow out the window and will want to chase it. Since they cannot do that, they start barking at the sparrow.
If your dog barks at any and every noise and sight regardless of the context, he’s probably alarm barking. Dogs engaged in alarm barking usually have stiffer body language than dogs barking to greet, and they often move or pounce forward an inch or two with each bark. Alarm barking is different than territorial barking in that a dog might alarm bark at sights or sounds in any location at all, not just when he’s defending familiar areas, such as your house, yard or car.
If the dog carries on barking, then go to where it is and look to see what the problem is. Do not pay attention to your dog at this point just in case it is doing it to try to get your attention on its terms (Simon Says is a game that dogs are VERY good at). Instead, show your dog that you are investigating the problem. Whether anything is there or not is not important. The main thing is that your dog sees you assessing the situation as the responsible one in the family. Give another “Thank you” and either take the dog away or just leave. Your dog sees that you have had a look and you do not think it is a problem. If your dog still continues after that, then quietly put your dog somewhere on its own until it is quiet. Your attitude is one of “Calm down”. Once you get silence, you can let your dog out again. If it goes back, repeat the process. If this happens three times then leave the dog in Time Out to show it that it really needs to chill out. This helps your pulse rate to stay low which will always have a good effect on your dog. The best leaders remain calm in a crisis.
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.
Some dog owners ‘debark’ their dogs but that is a very controversial method which does not address the underlying cause of the barking. It is a surgical procedure where the voice box is removed, leaving dogs with a raspy, instead of full, bark. There are complications and the operation can be life-threatening.
You can also teach your dog to be silent on command. This will help strengthen the association between quiet behavior and attention or rewards. Your dog should always be quiet before receiving attention, play or treats. By giving your dog a guaranteed method of getting attention, he’s no longer forced to bark for attention. Regularly seek your dog out to give him attention—sweet praise, petting and an occasional treat—when he’s not barking.
Who among us hasn’t smiled at our dogs howling at the sound of a ﬁre truck siren speeding past? The howl, which sometimes speaks of a dog’s distress, is also a communal conversation. Dogs often howl in groups, and some owners delight in teaching their dogs to howl on cue, by howling – or singing – themselves. “Group howl” is a popular activity of wild dogs, and of many humans around the campﬁre at dog camps. Try it – you and your dog might enjoy it!
If you prefer not to hold your dog’s muzzle or if doing so seems to scare your dog or make him struggle, you can try a different method. When your dog barks, approach him, calmly say “Quiet,” and then prompt his silence by feeding him a steady stream of tiny, pea-sized treats, such as chicken, hot dogs or bits of cheese. After enough repetitions of this sequence, over several days or more of training, your dog will begin to understand what “Quiet” means. You’ll know that he’s catching on if he consistently stops barking as soon as he hears you say “Quiet.” At this point, you can gradually extend the time between the cue, “Quiet,” and your dog’s reward. For example, say “Quiet,” wait 2 seconds, and then feed your dog several small treats in a row. Over many repetitions, gradually increase the time from 2 seconds to 5, then 10, then 20, and so on.
This is caused by one of two reasons. It could be an “I want to get to you but can’t” situation, such as when a dog is on lead or at the other side of the road, which is known as ‘frustration-related barking’. Or, it could be a “GO AWAY, you are scaring me” situation, also known as ‘fear-related barking’.
Let’s look at this from the dog’s point of view. A dog in the home is in its den, and there are often potential threats passing by (anything could be problem seeing as they are in a world they don’t really understand). Often, dogs will bark at the passing person/dog/bike/car/hot air balloon (this last one comes from personal experience a few years ago in the Netherlands). How many dog owners thanks their dogs for letting them know? What is the usual response to a dog barking? It’s OK, there is no need to tell me; I may not understand Dutch but I can tell if someone is happy or not…
Here’s a list of six techniques that can help stop your dog from barking. While all of them can be very successful, you shouldn’t expect miraculous results overnight. The longer your dog has been practicing the barking behavior, the longer it will take for him to change his ways.
This is not a comprehensive list and you are likely to find various other products to help you stop your dog’s excessive barking. But, these are by far the most humane and also very popular among pet owners who have problems with barking dogs.
There is a huge array of ’tools’ on the market that claim to stop nuisance barking in dogs and offer a quick fix. These include spray or electric shock collars, compressed air sprays, rattle cans and other devices, whose main function is to startle, scare, cause pain or discomfort to a barking dog in an effort to teach him that barking brings unpleasant consequences.
Rule out medical problems. Sometimes barking is your dog’s way of indicating to you that she is injured or sick. If there is a chance that your dog might have some medical problem or injury, you should take her to see a vet as soon as possible.
Try counterconditioning your dog. Counterconditioning is a common treatment method for dogs that typically involves training the dog to associate something fearful with a reward. In the case of separation anxiety, instead of fearing someone or something, the dog fears being left alone. To counter condition separation anxiety, you’ll need to train your dog to associate being left alone with something the dog enjoys (like treats).
Stress-reducing collar – This is similar to the diffusers discussed earlier. Stress-reducing collars are loaded with soothing pheromones that will help stressed dogs calm down and reduce anxious barking.
As your dog gets comfortable with you being out of her sight, try closing a door to block her access to you, and gradually extend the duration of time that you are out of the room or behind a closed door.
Sometimes you can tell whether the type of bark is a play bark or anxious bark. A play bark is usually made while the dog has loose, relaxed body language. An anxious dog has ears back and the whites of the eyes are showing. If your dog barks only when you go out, he may have separation anxiety.