When you have someone come to the door pretending to be the mailman, it’s imperative that your friend does not leave the porch until your dog is quiet. If he leaves while she is still barking, she may come to think that it was her barking which drove him away.
One of the main benefits of the human-canine partnership is a dog’s natural ability to alert. You could say the talent for barking and guarding earned that first furry friend a place by the fire with our ancestors.
I mentioned the importance of your relationship and confidence not only in your own ability to handle situations but also your dog’s confidence in you. This comes through dog exercise, dog training, spending time together, setting limits and boundaries and showing appreciation for behaviors that are pleasing. Controlled walks, games such as retrieving, and learning to be patient by simply sitting or laying down by your side or relaxing in his crate will create a companion that sees no need to bark without a good reason. In this way you build a foundation of trust and confidence that lets your dog know when he can and should bark and also when he can be quiet.
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.
If your dog most often barks territorially in your car, teach him to ride in a crate while in the car. Riding in a crate will restrict your dog’s view and reduce his motivation to bark. If crating your dog in your car isn’t feasible, try having your dog wear a head halter in the car instead. (Important note: For safety reasons, only let your dog wear the halter when you can supervise him.)
Remember, most people actually do want their dog to alert them that something is going on outside. It’s like the doorbell. You want to be able to hear it and know something is there, but you only want it to ring once.
The easiest and quickest way to quiet down a territorial/alarm/defense barker is to manage their environment. By blocking your dog’s sight line to potential barking triggers, you can stop the uncontrollable barking.
The best way to reduce excitement/frustration barking is through basic and intermediate obedience training. “Sit/stay” and “down/stay” are commands that say to your dog he must wait until you release him to go play, for a walk, or to meet his buddy. Animal intruders, such as cats or squirrels can be curtailed using motion-activated devices or other forms of discouragement.
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When they bark, simply say something like “Thank You”, in a VERY gentle voice (rather like you would whisper in somebodies ear). Then if they continue with the barking, go and take a look out the window and again say “Thank You” again very softly, before walking away. (Now I know this may seem odd, BUT it makes total sense to your dog – I promise!)
You want to try to block the dog from hearing the sounds. Since you obviously cannot sound proof your entire apartment, a great solution is to buy a fan and leave it on. In most cases this is more than enough to distract the dog and the sound made will stop him from hearing what happens on the outside. If this fails, you can turn on your radio and leave it like that when you are not home. The dog will be intrigued and can often remain near the radio and listen to what is said there, with zero focus to the outdoors.
Dogs are social animals who like to live in family groups and it is common for them to become upset when they are left on their own for longer than they feel comfortable with. This is called ‘separation anxiety’ and we have lots of information about this here.
If Method #1 isn’t working after at least 10-20 sessions, add a startling noise to the “quiet” command, such as a can of pennies, a bell, even a loud single clap of your hands. This should gain his attention and you can then go through the remaining steps of calling him over, asking him to sit, and giving praise and treats until the person or noise is gone. If he begins barking immediately after you release him, repeat the steps. If after 10-20 more tries the barking hasn’t diminished you may have an obsessive or anxiety situation and should seek the advice of a professional.
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.