We’ve all heard those annoying dogs around the neighborhood that just won’t stop barking. We wonder to ourselves what their owners must be thinking. The truth of the matter is that dogs love to bark naturally, so unless you are committed to working on training them to stop, they will continue to bark. Remember that barking to dogs is like talking to humans. Try to go a day without talking and see how hard that would be to do.
The first thing to remember is that you are not trying to stop your puppy from barking 100%. Instead, you want to train them to bark at appropriate times. We want to limit the excessive barking.
Let’s explore a few reasons for why dogs bark:
- to gain attention
- hunger or thirst
- seeing another animal
- express their own needs
- alert others of danger
- laying or excitement
- hurt or trapped
- simply to make noise (hear themselves talk)
- they want a treat
Here are a few helpful hints on what NOT to do:
- Do not reward a dog for barking. In other words, don’t give them a treat just to keep them quiet. By “rewarding” them after a barking session this will enforce to them that if they bark they will get a treat.
- Do not yell at your dog for barking. The best way I can explain this is an argument between two people. One yells (barks), then the other yells, and nothing gets accomplished except that the noise level keeps on rising.
- Do not remove the dog from the situation that is causing the barking. If your dog sees a cat and starts to bark, walking the dog away from the cat is not going to teach them that you don’t want them barking at cats.
- Do not hug, kiss, or pet your dog to get them to stop barking. Again, affection is a type of reward. We don’t want them to bark for our love.
Here are a few helpful hints on what TO DO:
- Exposure your dog more to the things that are causing them to bark. For example, if you dog barks every time you vacuum, try running the vacuum everyday or twice a day.
- Sign your dog up for obedience training. Teaching the “Quiet!” or “Stop!” command will be a great help in controlling your pups barking.
- Alter your dog’s behavior by helping them to find a replacement behavior. Instead of having your dog bark when you vacuum, teach them to go into their doggie bed. Your pup may just be looking for a way to feel safe.
- When trying to avoid outside barking, when you are away, make sure that your dog has food, water, and toys to play with. You should also have an outside doggie bed (weather resistant), and a covered area where your puppy can go in case of rain.
If your dog is barking when you arrive home, do not bring them inside the second you walk in. To the dog this will show them if they bark all day, you will eventually come home and bring them inside. Instead, wait for your puppy to stop barking, and then bring them inside when they have calmed down.
- Establish yourself as the dog’s master. This will help when you command them to be quiet or stop barking.
- Ignore your dog. Yes, this seems mean, but it enforces to them that barking is not a way to get your attention or the attention of others.
- Plant shrubs around your yard/fence. While this isn’t exactly training, it does help to cut down on the temptation for your dog to bark while outside.
Positive Vs. Negative Reactions
Another technique that you can use is positive and negative association. The key to this technique is staying out of the sight of your dog.
First, pretend you are leaving for work. Instead, hide somewhere outside away from your dog. When they begin to bark, make a loud noise, such as clashing to pans together. Continue this until they are quiet for 15 minutes. Then throw a treat their way to reward their good behavior.
If ALL Else Fails
There are many companies that make no bark collars. One of the best working is the Citronella no bark collar. Each time your dog barks, a mist of citronella is sprayed into the air. This scent is hated by most dogs, and they will soon realize that if they don’t bark, they won’t have that smell around them. This is a great option for a single-dog family home. If you have more than one dog, you will need to choose another type of collar.
If a Citronella collar doesn’t work for you, there are E-collars which shock the dog whenever it tries to make a sound. The electronic shock is small, and does not carry any harm to your dog at all. It will grab your pups attention, and stop its barking.