Tony has been dog training (in association with his mother Jan Fennell) since 1999. The Dog Listener book has been translated into over 25 languages. He has been on radio and television on 4 continents and teaches the Amichien Bonding dog training process all over the world in English and French.
Dogs often bark when they find themselves excited but thwarted, or frustrated, from getting to something they want. For example, a frustrated dog might bark in his yard because he wants to get out and play with children he hears in the street. A frustrated dog might bark and run the fence line with the dog next door, or bark by the patio door while watching a cat or squirrel frolicking in his yard. Some dogs bark at other dogs on walks because they want to greet and play, or they bark at their caretakers to get them to move faster when preparing to go for walks. The most effective means for discouraging excitement or frustration barking is to teach a frustrated dog to control his impulses through obedience training. You can teach your dog to wait, sit and stay before gaining access to fun activities like walks, playing with other dogs or chasing squirrels. This can be a daunting task, so you may need the assistance of a Certified Professional Dog Trainer to help you. Please see our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, for information about finding a CPDT in your area. You can also discourage the presence of cats and other animals in your yard by using motion-activated devices to startle intruders.
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.
It is vital that you determine why your dog barks in the first place, and if barking mostly occurs when your dog is left alone, a behaviour consultation with a qualified pet behaviour counsellor will likely be necessary to address this problem. Similarly, if your dog barks at people or dogs when out and about, or at visitors coming to the home, a simple tip is unlikely make a difference and a comprehensive assessment will be needed to help improve your dog’s behaviour.
Constant barking can be irritating, but you won’t be able to correct the dog behavior problem if you are frustrated. Animals don’t follow unbalanced leaders. In fact, your dog will mirror your energy. If you’re frustrated, he will be, too! And barking is a great release for that frustrated energy. Take a moment to curb your own internal barking first.
If you find this technique too slow you can try the reverse direction method. When your dog pulls, issue a ‘Let’s Go’ cue, turn away from him and walk off in the other direction, without jerking on the leash.
While Dr. Rachel Barrack of Animal Acupuncture explains that there is not always a universal cause for night barking, loneliness remains one of the top triggers she sees in dogs that can’t seem to settle down. Dr. Barrack says, “Dogs are pack animals, so if left alone in another room at night, they may bark to try and get attention. Allowing your dog to sleep in your room should help to eliminate barking due to separation anxiety. If sleeping in your bedroom isn’t an option, maybe you need another dog for a source of companionship.”
Make helpful suggestions. It’s possible your neighbor is well aware of the issue, but isn’t sure how to get the dog to stop barking. If you’re pretty sure you know what the problem is, there’s nothing wrong with making suggestions. This is especially effective if you’re a dog owner, too. You can commiserate over how tough it can be to get a dog to stop barking. Here are a few common problems you might consider bringing up:
No one should expect a dog to never bark. That’s as unreasonable as expecting a child to never talk. But some dogs bark excessively. If that’s a problem in your home, the first step is figuring out what causes your dog to bark too much. Once you know why he is barking, you can start to treat his barking problem.
I realize that shock collars can work to correct a barking issue. However, they’re a negative Band-Aid people employ instead of training their dog. It’s much better for both parties to address the underlying causes of the barking instead of shocking them for unwanted behavior.
The next step in “Go to Your Spot” training is to recruit friends and family to help you conduct mock practice visits. Arrange to have someone come to the door. You will work with your dog to help him stay on his own. Be prepared! This will probably take a long time the first few visits. When you open the door, one of two things can happen. Sometimes you leave your dog there on his spot while you talk to the person at the door, as if your visitor is a courier or delivery person. Your dog never gets to say hello. (However, you, the or both of you should frequently toss treats to your dog to reward him for staying.) At other times, invite the visitor in. Wait until the person sits down somewhere, and then release your dog to join you and your guest. When you have a friend help you with a mock visit, be sure to repeat the scenario over and over, at least 10 to 20 times. Practice makes perfect! Have the person come in for 5 to 10 minutes or just pretend to deliver something, then leave for 5 to 10 minutes, then return for a second visit, and so on. Your dog should experience at least 10 visits in a row with the same person. With each repetition, it will become easier for him to do what you expect because he’ll be less excited by the whole routine—especially when it’s the same person at the door, over and over again.
Pet owners always think it is strange when I recommend teaching their dog to bark on command. This places the behavior under stimulus control and with one more step, you can teach your dog to be ‘quiet’ on command.
Continue to recruit people to help you practice “Go to Your Spot” exercises until your dog reliably goes to his spot and stays there until you release him by saying “Okay.” At this point, your dog should be able to perform his new “Go to Your Spot” skill perfectly about 90 percent of the time during training sessions. The hardest part for your dog will be going to his spot and staying there in real-life situations, when he hasn’t been able to do a few warm-up repetitions. To prepare your dog for times when real visitors arrive, ask friends who already know your dog well to drop by randomly when you’ll be home. Then ask friends who don’t know your dog well to drop by. With plenty of practice, your dog will be able to go to his spot and stay there, even when neither of you knows who’s at the door!
Respected trainer and president of Legacy Canine Behavior & Training Inc, Terry Ryan, explains in her book ”The Toolbox for Building A Great Family Dog” Once you recognize what the rewards are (in your case getting up and feeding) and take them away, the behavior will likely increase immediately. This is known as an ”extinction burst”. In plain words, Gus will get worst before he gets better. It might be frustrating, but take it as a good sign. It’s working! You’ve got his number! Stay the course and the behavior will drop off over time.”.
The secret to stopping the behavior is therefore to never give in. The worst thing that can be done is giving in some days and resisting others. This puts the dog on a ”variable schedule”. What this means is that if the dog barks and gets fed one day and not the next day, the behavior of barking only puts more roots because it works in the same way as ”playing the lottery”. People get hooked on playing the lottery because of the variability of it. Slot machines are based on this principle.
Give your dog more exercise and mental activities to let them have an outlet for their energy. Take them on an uphill walk or a hike instead of the normal daily walk. Train your dog in herding or agility activities for mental stimulation.
Your ﬁrst step is to gently inform your neighbor that her dog is barking excessively, and when. This is best done during the day, not with an irate phonecall when the dog wakes you up at two o’clock in the morning again. Assume she’s not aware of it, or at least not aware it’s disturbing to her neighbors.
A chest-led harness is a perfect training aid, as it takes pressure off a dog’s sensitive neck by distributing the pressure more evenly around the body. When the leash is attached to a ring located on the chest strap and your dog pulls, the harness will turn his body around rather than allowing him to go forward. I recommend this kind of harness for anyone who needs extra help, as safety has to come first.
The collar wasn’t used properly and you obviously weren’t interested in the welfare of your dog if you weren’t checking how it was affecting it. Sounds like the collar was on constantly without checking to make sure it wasn’t hurting the dog. Maybe you had it turned all the way up. A lower setting barely shocks.
While barking at people outside or at the door (including you and your family), if your dog is also wagging his tail, crying, and jumping, this is a greeting bark, and must be handled differently than territorial barking. Greeting barks are friendly, but can still be annoying to you and your neighbors. Here are a few tips to help control the barking.
Busy toys: (helpful for attention seeking/demand barkers, boredom barkers and separation distress barkers) both boredom barkers and separation distress barkers benefit from having something to do when their people leave the house. Hard rubber toys that dispense treats are a great way to keep them occupied and happy when alone. They’re also great for dogs that bark for attention. For example, if your dog barks at you every time you get on the phone, give him a busy toy to keep him occupied while you make calls.