Barking is normal. But one of the most common gripes from first time owners is about dogs that won’t (or can’t) stop barking. Read on to find out how to stop a dog barking.
Too much barking in one go or consistent barking throughout the day can drive us potty. It can also lead to complaints from the neighbours, lack of sleep and a raised anxiety of the entire household. There are ways to tackle the problem, but beware: most solutions require time, patience, temperance and tolerance.
Your dog gets a sort of inner reward when she barks; this could be as basic as ‘feeling good’ about warning the pack of an approaching danger. If you can work out the nature of this inner reward you are already half-way to solving the problem of how to stop your dog barking.
Rules for training
When it comes to training a dog remember the following rules of sensible and responsible dog ownership:
Don't yell at your dog to be quiet; she will think you are barking too and she may also get scared
Keep your training sessions positive, upbeat and gentle. Persistence is the key. You will need to devote some time to her education!
Be consistent. All of the family must train your dog in the same way, otherwise she will be confused and the training will fail.
You must also be realistic about your chances of stopping the barking straight away. Once your dog is in ‘bark’ mode your chances are slim so you must first understand the process of the barking and what it is she gets from it. Once these have been determined you can begin to train her (although you may never be able to eradicate the barking altogether). Hound dogs in particular are renowned for loving the sound of their own voice.
Why does my dog bark?
Dogs may bark in any number of situations, including:
- A visitor or even a noise at the front door
- A stranger on or near the dog’s ‘territory’
- Animals and birds in the garden
- Another dog nearby
- Someone walking past the window or door of the house
- Attention seeking
It is vital that you determine why your dog barks in the first place. Once you have discovered the trigger of the barking and what she is trying to tell you, you can adopt a plan of action that is more effective than simply telling her to be quiet.
You should consider the fact that your dog is barking because she is too full of beans. Is her exercise routine appropriate and as outlined by experts in respect of her breed? Once she has been exercised your dog will be less hyperactive and less likely to exhibit signs of boredom and frustration.
Video: © Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution. YouTube
Below you will find some simple ways of dealing with barking in common situations.
How to stop a dog barking when:
1. There’s somebody at the door
This is one example of alarm barking. Your dog is warning you of a potential encroachment of another person onto your territory. Remember, this is an instinctive reaction for which we have the dog’s lupine cousins to thank. Wolves patrol their entire territory every week, and they deal with trespassers by showing aggression and violence. An instinctive behaviour such as this is hard to eradicate but not impossible:
You can instruct your dog to ‘go to bed’ (that’s assuming you have already taught her what that means).
Take your dog’s mind off the issue. Throw a ball or wave a toy in her line of sight when she begins her barking or command her to sit.
2. Someone passes by the house
This is another example of alarm barking. The proximity of the person is enough for your dog to be concerned that territory may be lost.
If your dog chooses a window of the house to keep watch, try closing the curtains to block out the view when she begins to bark or quietly and gently take her into another room that doesn’t have the same view.
If your dog stands in the front garden and barks bring her gently in when she begins to bark.
3. She is confined to a space by herself
If you must put your dog in a room on her own for a while or confine her to a crate against her wishes she will be unhappy because she feels separated from the pack.
Turn your back on her and ignore her when she begins to bark. When she finally gives up, reward her with a treat. When she begins to realise that she is rewarded when she stops barking (and that could take a while), gradually lengthen the time after she has stopped barking until you give her another treat.
4. She barks at an inanimate object or another animal
Sometimes dogs will express fear. This may be due to her instinctive behaviour or even a trauma she has suffered previously. You may want to try to desensitise your dog to the object of her fear.
Begin by placing the object as far away as possible and out of sight. Reward her for all the non-barking as you bring the object closer in stages. Wait until she stops barking and then reward her. You may consider using this method if your dog tends to bark at other dogs.
One of the best ways to stop your dog barking is to teach her to bark on command. This may seem counter-intuitive but it has been known to work. Once your dog understands that her barking is just another lesson from the top dog she will be more inclined to know what to do when you tell her not to bark. Excessive barking is a behaviour that challenges our sensitivity; it is hard to eradicate but with consistent and patient training it is not impossible.
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