There was the time I was engrossed in writing an article and our dogs were alarm-barking ferociously. Resisting the urge just to tell them to stop, I reluctantly got up to investigate. No, the house wasn’t on fire, but I did find our horses running down the driveway toward the road.
Before you begin any training session with a high energy dog, it’s crucial to exercise him. If your dog has too much energy during a training session he won’t be able to pay attention and listen. In order for new concepts to sink in, like learning to be quiet when asked, you first must get their overflowing energy out. High energy dogs often get bored so it’s important to know your dog’s favorite reward. A reward can be anything from a favorite toy to a delicious treat. As long as the reward gets your dog’s attention, you’ll be able to stop your dog barking with time.
Dogs are super sensitive and pick up on our deepest emotions and slightest body movements. If you think of your dog as like your mirror, then you will start to understand that the calmer you are, the more chance your dog will be relaxed.
Say “Go to your spot,” show your dog a treat, and then throw the treat onto the spot where you’d like your dog to go. Repeat this sequence 10 to 20 times. By the tenth time, try pretending to throw the treat so that your dog begins to move toward the spot on his own. As soon as he’s standing on his spot or rug, throw him the treat. As your dog catches on, you can stop making the fake throwing motion with your arm and just give him the cue, “Go to your spot.” Then wait until he does and reward him.
Debarking or devocalization is a surgery performed under full anesthesia that removes all or part of a dog’s vocal cords. The dog can still make noise, but it’s more of a raspy, hoarse sound. Many animal rights and veterinary groups strongly discourage the practice.
What seems like excessive shedding can be normal for some dogs, but it can also be the result of stress, poor nutrition or a medical problem. Your veterinarian can best determine if your dog’s hair loss is part of the normal shedding process or is a symptom of an underlying disorder. Excessive shedding can sometimes be prevented through proper nutrition. Quality pet-food manufacturers work hard to include the right amount of nutrients so that supplements are not needed, but dogs with allergies and/or sensitivities still might need to experiment with different brands and formulations to discover which food works best for them. We recommend that you consult your veterinarian for advice on what foods will best suit your dog.
Many owners can identify why their dog is barking just by hearing the specific bark. For instance, a dog’s bark sounds different when he wants to play as compared to when he wants to come in from the yard. If you want to reduce your dog’s barking, it’s crucial to determine why he’s barking. It will take some time to teach your dog to bark less. Unfortunately, it’s just not realistic to expect a quick fix or to expect that your dog will stop barking altogether. (Would you expect a person to suddenly stop talking altogether?) Your goal should be to decrease, rather than eliminate, the amount of barking. Bear in mind that some dogs are more prone to barking than others. In addition, some breeds are known as “barkers,” and it can be harder to decrease barking in individuals of these breeds.
Separation Anxiety/Compulsive Barking: Dogs with separation anxiety often bark excessively when left alone. They also usually exhibit other symptoms as well, such as pacing, destructiveness, depression, and inappropriate elimination. Compulsive barkers seem to bark just to hear the sound of their voices. They also often make repetitive movements as well, such as running in circles or along a fence.
Barking is a completely natural behavior for dogs, but we humans don’t always appreciate it. In your dog’s mind, however, there’s a good reason to bark, so the first thing to do is figure out why she wants to bark in what you consider the most inappropriate times.
For this reason bark collars are considered by veterinary behaviorists to be a costly investment for something that most likely will not work long-term and may even be harmful. More exercise, chewing, company and stimulation can assist.
For immediate help, I recommend that you visit our website and plug in your zip code or city to see if there is a VSPDT local to you. If there isn’t, there is always the option of doing a phone consultation with one of them.
If the dog seems to be barking at nothing, he’s likely bored. Boredom, due to lack of exercise and mental stimulation, is probably the biggest reason for excessive barking. Think honestly about whether your dog is getting enough. How would you feel if you were locked up at home all day with no cell phone, tablet, computer or even television? Not even a book to read. You’d get bored pretty fast.
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!
Remember, to a dog barking is often an escalation of other forms of communication. Therefore, just like you don’t want to reward a puppy for barking to get your attention, you also don’t want to reward them for lesser forms of negative noises like whining or growling.
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 person 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.
Use training methods. Teaching your dog the “quiet” command is an excellent training technique. It will be useful for any kind of problem barking, though it may be the only option for certain behavioral problems like territorial alarm barking.
I have heard about these “no-bark” collars before, and as before, I am shocked and appalled by the very idea that anyone would choose to do this to their beloved animals. If you are new to pet ownership and think this would be a good way to train your dog to not bark, do your research. Read books and training manuals, and talk to kennel owners, Humane Society volunteers, and professional trainers, and find out what people who are heavily involved and invested in the welfare of dogs really think about the no-bark collars. Because these collars are no good, and certainly anyone with any sense of how to treat a dog would ever seriously consider using one of these devices.
I don’t have a problem with leash aggression with my dogs, but two out of three of them bark PERSISTENTLY on the lead and during walks. They aren’t barking at anyone or anything in particular – It’s entirely excitement based… And it’s so bad that I can’t walk them anymore. I improvise their exercise by playing fetch games (making them run) and taking them down to our field to let them run riot there. I miss being able to walk them though. The pulling I don’t mind really (I know it’s not ideal tho) but the barking at everything out of being so excited…It’s incredibly frustrating and embarrassing. 🙁
I know first hand the frustration of dealing with a barking dog. Trust me, I have a Chihuahua! While inappropriate barking can make you want to pull your hair out at times, it’s important to remember that it’s a natural behavior for your pup. Barking is the way he communicates and of course he’s going to feel the need to alert you when an intruder is approaching (by “intruder” I really mean a friendly neighbor)!
When your dog sees or hears something in an area your dog considers his/her territory, excessive barking will often be triggered. Your dog will look alert and aggressive during this type of barking and the barking will often get louder as the threat gets closer. It is good to note that this type of barking is often motivated by fear or a perceived threat to their territory and people.
Some jurisdictions will act on anonymous complaints, while others require your name and address but won’t reveal this to the neighbor complained about. Check the public or private status of making a complaint before making it.
Anti-bark collars are punishment devices and are not recommended as a first choice for dealing with a barking problem. This is especially true for barking that’s motivated by fear, anxiety or compulsion. Before using an anti-bark collar, please see our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, for information about finding a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist or a qualified Certified Professional Dog Trainer for guidance.