Before you can stop a dog from barking, it’s helpful to understand why he’s doing it. Dogs bark for all sorts of reasons, but it’s all a method of communication, says certified canine trainer and behaviorist Susie Aga, owner of Atlanta Dog Trainer.
Keep in mind that not all the dog daycare centers out there are really good. You want to meet with the people that will take care of him and fully understand what happens there. After all, you are leaving the dog with strangers. You want to be sure that the dog feels great and is treated as he should be treated. If you notice that the dog is not happy and does not enjoy his time at the center, do not force him to keep going!
Saying something positive like “Thank you” or “Good dog” starts training the owner to think of barking as a positive thing, which helps the dog to calm down sooner. Remember the Dobermans in the non-burgled house?
Most dogs will bark if there’s motion or sound — like a squirrel zipping across the lawn or a kid racing on his bike past the house. They might bark to warn off intruders at the door or other dogs that come too near the fence. Dogs might bark in excitement when you get out the leash to go for a walk or they might bark from stress when they have separation anxiety from being away from you. And some dogs just bark because they’re bored and don’t have anything else to do.
Customizing a training solution for your dog’s specific type of bark will make it much easier to stop, and in some cases, prevent the barking from happening. The following tips are a mix of management solutions, which are easier to implement, as well as training suggestions, which require more time and dedication on your part.
Studies have shown that the collars that make a noise do not work with most dogs. One study compared the citronella spray collar and the electronic shock collar and found they are equally effective for eliminating barking. Some collars use a microphone to hear the dog’s bark. If you have more than one dog, the second one could set off the collar with his barking. Anti-bark collars are not designed to be left on all the time and your dog may learn not to bark when the collar is on, and then resume the barking when the collar is off.
Ultrasonic bark deterrent devices work by emitting an ultrasonic sound that dogs find unpleasant, which startles them out of barking. Reviews of ultrasonic anti-bark devices are mixed; some dogs don’t respond to them, and others are too sensitive for what is essentially a correction. But for some dogs, these are very effective.
If all else fails and your neighbor is making no attempt to curb the barking, it may be time to file a noise complaint. Talk to your other neighbors and see if they are as bothered by the barking as you are. Urge them to file a similar complaint. Look up your local laws, as different areas have different laws that govern dog barking and noise complaints.
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.
Think twice before ignoring. Of course another less preferable way is to ignore the barking and wait for it to go away. In a crate or enclosed area this may work (particularly with a puppy who is learning to settle) but if the dog is outside or in a large area then the barking itself can be self-rewarding. In many instances there are multiple stimuli occurring which will encourage the dog barking. In my opinion, dogs should never be left outside unsupervised or unaccompanied. Go out with your dog and do not allow him to run the fence, race down the hedgerow chasing the cars, or barking at the person walking by. Show your control and confidence in handling these situations and be the leader of your pack. Have him on a leash or a long line so that you can reinforce your commands and maintain control without shouting or becoming agitated.
If your dog barks at things he sees out the window or front door, block the view. Close the blinds or curtains on the windows. If he can see out windows near the front door, Aga suggests covering them with darkening film you can buy from an auto parts store or even temporarily taping up some bubble wrap to block the view. If possible, confine the dog in a part of the house that doesn’t have windows or doors.
Block scary sounds. Inexperienced pups hear lots of “new” stuff that may inspire barking. When barking arises from fear, the pheromone product Comfort Zone with D.A.P. may help relieve the angst. White noise machines are available to mask sounds, or simply turn the radio to a normal volume and tune it to static.
Take a moment to think about how you react when your dog barks to get your attention. Do you raise your voice, shout, or tell them off for it? If so, stop. When you meet your dog’s barking with noise and attention, you are rewarding your dog by giving them the attention they are asking for.
Identify a place in your home where you’d like your dog to go when people come to the door. If possible, choose a place that’s at least eight feet away from the front door but still within sight. It might be a spot at the top of a set of stairs, inside the doorway of an adjacent room, your dog’s crate, or a rug positioned at the far corner of an entryway or foyer.
Try to keep meeting and greeting under control. When you or a family member comes home, ignore your dog for the first couple minutes. When people come to the door, teach your dog to sit and wait until the person comes to him; this will bring control and anticipation to the greeting rather than barking.
What you want to do is first focus on teaching your dog the “Speak” command. This is really easy as the dog will react to you. Make sure that you practice this when the dog is not barking. After the command is learned, you want to teach the “Quiet” command. Use any trigger word that you feel comfortable with. When the dog barks, you signal him by putting your fingers to your lips and saying the trigger word. A dog naturally picks up physical signals much faster than a voice command. That is why the gesture helps. After some practice and after you hand out treats as the dog does what he is supposed to, all you need to do is calmly say the trigger word when the dog starts barking and barking will stop.
If you have a nervous dog, time and patience is key! The overall goal should be to get your dog around the things that is making him nervous. If you can get a nervous dog to play a game of tug-of-war around things that seem to make them nervous, then you off to a great start! But, most dogs don’t play when they’re nervous, so having high quality rewards nearby can help. This will slowly help your dog associate something great with things that used to make him uncomfortable. Over time, (sometimes a long time,) you should begin seeing improvements.
You love your dog to pieces, but is it too much to ask for them to shut up at night? If you’re trying to figure out how to stop your dog from barking at night, you know what a frustrating situation it is — especially when it seems like they are making noise for no apparent reason.
Excessive barking due to separation anxiety occurs only when a dog’s caretaker is gone or when the dog is left alone. You’ll usually see at least one other separation anxiety symptom as well, like pacing, destruction, elimination, depression or other signs of distress. For more information about this problem, please see our article, Separation Anxiety.
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’.
Did you know that if we yell at a barking dog, they often feel we are joining in? Does your dog bark at you when you are the phone? Think maybe you taught this by accidentally giving them the attention they were seeking?
Be assertive in your physical posture. Focus your body and calm energy on blocking the dog from the stimulus that seems to be causing the barking. Concentrate and remain calm to let your dog know that you are in charge and that the dog doesn’t need to worry about the stimulus.
If ‘free time’ is a rather large chunk of your dog’s day, it might be a good idea to up their exercise time (walks, playing in the garden) and/or mental stimulation (training, use of food toys, scent games) in order to tire them out and simply give them something to do that isn’t barking.
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.
If you are consistent with your training and practice several times each day on the weekends and at least twice a day on weekdays (such as before work and in the evening), you may be able to accomplish long-term comfort in under a month. However, every dog is different, and your dog may need a longer training period or more training sessions each day.
Ironic that I should be writing a how to get your dog to stop barking post when for the first time in my life, and after being a pro dog trainer for close to 20 years, I am living with dogs who love the sound of their own voices. Let’s meet the players, shall we.
On walks, teach your dog that he can walk calmly past people and dogs without meeting them. To do this, distract your dog with special treats, like chicken, cheese or hot dogs, before he begins to bark. (Soft, very tasty treats work best). Show your dog the treats by holding them in front of his nose, and encourage him to nibble at them while he’s walking past a person or dog who would normally cause him to bark. Some dogs do best if you ask them to sit as people or dogs pass. Other dogs prefer to keep moving. Make sure you praise and reward your dog with treats anytime he chooses not to bark.
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Apply the quiet command. Once your dog has learned the quiet command in training sessions, you’ll need to apply the quiet command to real-world scenarios. You can do this by having a friend slam a car door in front of your house, rattle your mailbox, or approach your front door.