We just adopted a rescue chihuahua two weeks ago, and while I knew the breed was known for barking, I had no idea what I was getting into. We live in a condo building, and ours tends to bark when he hears noises from outside our unit (which I can’t control). I find myself more sensitive to the barking because I know my upstairs neighbors can hear it, and I don’t want to them to make a formal complaint. I’m going to try #1 and #3 and see how it works (he doesn’t seem to enjoy going outside, so I don’t think exercise is the key for this guy). And now I also realize that saying “no” just made him think we were joining him.
Anxiety: Anxious barking often seems to be an act of self-soothing for many dogs. It is often high-pitched and sometimes accompanied by whining. This type of barking is common for dogs with separation anxiety.
It’s a lose-lose situation no matter which side of the fence you’re on. Whether it’s your dog that’s barking or your neighbor’s pooch that won’t stop flapping his jowls, nobody’s happy … including the dog.
To avoid this situation you need to leave a short or long (as in the video above with the barking dog) on them so you can take control quickly and calmly when you need it. At the same time your dog still gets to run around.
Train with head halters. Tools such as Gentle Leader and Halti can work wonders. Pulling on the lead gently presses the pup’s mouth shut for the few seconds of pressure and signals her to be quiet—and you don’t have to say a word. The halters are available from pet products stores and veterinarians.
Luckily, most dogs will quickly learn that being quiet will result in more rewards and attention through training and positive conditioning. While it may take a bit more effort on the front end, your ears and neighbors will appreciate the investment in training your dog to embrace their inner peace and quiet.
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In situations such as when the postman or visitors come to the door or a phone rings and your dog becomes very vocal, teaching them to perform a behaviour that simply takes your dog’s mind off barking should do the trick.
If your dog barks inappropriately, it is important to start by setting yourself a realistic goal. Planning for your dog to stop barking completely is not realistic – barking is a natural dog behaviour and dogs will bark – more or less, and largely depending on the breed – whether we want it or not. You can reduce the amount of barking, but stopping it will never be possible.
Territorial behavior is often motivated by both fear and anticipation of a perceived threat. Because defending territory is such a high priority to them, many dogs are highly motivated to bark when they detect the approach of unknown people or animals near familiar places, like their homes and yards. This high level of motivation means that when barking territorially, your dog might ignore unpleasant or punishing responses from you, such as scolding or yelling. Even if the barking itself is suppressed by punishment, your dog’s motivation to guard his territory will remain strong, and he might attempt to control his territory in another way, such as biting without warning.
These collars stop dog barking by delivering a shot of citronella, a short noise, or a small shock near the dog’s face to detract it from making noise. The problem with this solution though is that it doesn’t give any positive reinforcement when the dog is behaving, nor does it address the underlying problem of the dog being bored and having pent-up energy.
However, it’s unlikely that he became a noisy, insistent pest on his own; your family likely had a hand in this during his upbringing. For example, perhaps you thought it was cute when he barked at you while you were cooking chicken and you slipped a piece to him. Dogs are pretty good associative learners and if they make the connection that barking equals food, they won’t stop just because you no longer find it cute.
There are also high-frequency noise emitters that you can place outside. These will respond to barking and emit a noise similar to the dog whistle. Hopefully this will correct the behavior. These solutions might work, but just be aware that other dogs that live nearby may also be bothered by the noise even if they aren’t the ones doing the barking.
What you have to do is make it clear that he will not be able to play with you and that you will not acknowledge him until he stops barking. Use a trigger word and establish it. You want to be calm and simply not acknowledge your dog until he stops barking. Then, offer a treat and start playing with him. If he starts barking again and acting hectic, stop playing and repeat the process. Your dog will then figure out that his excessive barking is the problem and the reason why you are not happy to see him.
Another thing you can try is recording sounds that trigger the barking and playing these back to your dog – very quietly at first, and gradually increasing the volume – while rewarding them with food. This is a process known as desensitising and counter conditioning.
But, since dogs bark for various reasons, the first thing to do is to figure out why your dog barks, at what you might consider to be the most inappropriate times. Once you know the reason behind the uncontrollable barking, you can start to treat the problem.
Dogs can bark excessively in response to people, dogs or other animals within or approaching their territories. Your dog’s territory includes the area surrounding his home and, eventually, anywhere he has explored or associates strongly with you: your car, the route you take during walks and other places where he spends a lot of time.
The standard dog training go to answer is to put an unwanted behavior on cue. By teaching your dog, a behavior it should only come out when you cue it. For dogs that have a lot to say (Finney!) this really helps get the edge off. My favorite reason to teach a dog to bark on cue is that at the same time we teach the “enough” or “stop” or whatever you choose to call it cue. Most of us think our dogs understand what they are saying. Often they do not.
Separation distress: dogs that don’t like to be alone engage in this pitiful bark. It is not the same bark made by dogs going through true separation anxiety, as distress is a milder and more manageable form of canine discomfort than true separation anxiety.
Very often we push things too fast and do not realise that our dogs are struggling with the speed that we are progressing. Then things fall apart and we all get stressed. By slowing the training down, dogs relax more and start to succeed!
Now I should point out that this barking is NOT “naughty behavior” as many people think, nor has it anything to do with boredom which is why using a shock collar to try to stop this behavior is such a cruel idea. Let me explain.
Barking can be a nuisance both for you and your neighbours. It can also be a sign that your dog is bored or anxious. There are a number of solutions for barking dogs that avoid the use of punishing anti-bark collars and will help you to achieve peace.
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.
Some dogs bark excessively in a repetitive way, like a broken record. These dogs often move repetitively as well. For example, a dog who’s compulsively barking might run back and forth along the fence in his yard or pace in his home.
Sarah has loved and trained both dogs and horses from a very early age. Her Staffordshire bull terrier, Mona, is trained as both a therapy dog and disaster stress relief dog. In addition, Sarah has trained her German Shepherd, Soren, as a service dog.