Don’t Let Your Barking Dog Drive You Crazy
You love your dog, but the barking can sometimes be – a lot! It can be really annoying to you and your neighbors if it becomes incessant barking. So what can you do to control or reduce your dog’s barking and make him the most loved dog on the block?
First off there are the traditional methods. Dog training and dog obedience schools help train the dog and also teach you how to handle your pet too, so that you can grow a lasting bond with your dog. Of course if you take your dog out and give them lots of exercise they’ll be a lot less inclined to bark. A tired dog has less energy to bark and a tired sleeping dog can’t bark at all!
Here’s a list of six techniques that can help stop your dog from barking.
While all can be successful, you shouldn’t expect miraculous results overnight. The longer your dog has been practicing the barking behavior, the longer it will take for them to change their ways.
Some of these training techniques require you to have an idea as to why your dog barks.
Always remember to keep these tips in mind while training:
- Don’t yell at your dog to be quiet—it just sounds like you’re barking along with them.
- Keep your training sessions positive and upbeat.
- Be consistent so you don’t confuse your dog. Everyone in your family must apply the training methods every time your dog barks inappropriately. You can’t let your dog get away with inappropriate barking some times and not others.
Remove the Motivation
Your dog gets some kind of reward when they bark. Otherwise, they wouldn’t do it. Figure out what they get out of barking and remove it. Don’t give your dog the opportunity to continue the barking behavior.
Example: Barking at passersby
- If they bark at people or animals passing by the living room window, manage the behavior by closing the curtains or putting your dog in another room.
- If they bark at passersby when in the yard, bring them into the house. Never leave your dog outside unsupervised all day and night.
Ignore the Barking
If you believe your dog is barking to get your attention, ignore them for as long as it takes them to stop. Don’t talk to them, don’t touch them, don’t even look at them; your attention only rewards them for being noisy. When they finally quiet, even to take a breath, reward them with a treat.
To be successful with this method, you must be patient. If they bark for an hour and you finally get so frustrated that you yell at them to be quiet, the next time they’ll probably bark for an hour and a half. They learn that if they just bark long enough, you’ll give them attention.
Example: Barking when confined
- When you put your dog in their crate or in a gated room, turn your back and ignore them.
- Once they stop barking, turn around, praise them and give a treat.
- As they catch on that being quiet gets them a treat, lengthen the amount of time they must remain quiet before being rewarded.
- Remember to start small by rewarding them for being quiet for just a few seconds, then working up to longer periods of quiet.
- Keep it fun by varying the amount of time. Sometimes reward them after five seconds, then 12 seconds, then three seconds, then 20 seconds and so on.
Desensitize Your Dog to the Stimulus
Gradually get your dog accustomed to whatever is causing them to bark. Start with the stimulus (the thing that makes them bark) at a distance. It must be far enough away that they don’t bark when they see it. Feed them lots of good treats. Move the stimulus a little closer (perhaps as little as a few inches or a few feet to start) and feed treats. If the stimulus moves out of sight, stop giving your dog treats. You want your dog to learn that the appearance of the stimulus leads to good things (treats)!
Example: Barking at other dogs
- Have a friend with a dog stand out of sight or far enough away so your dog won’t bark at the other dog.
- As your friend and their dog come into view, start feeding your dog treats.
- Stop feeding treats as soon as your friend and their dog disappear from view.
- Repeat the process multiple times.
- Remember not to try to progress too quickly as it may take days or weeks before your dog can pay attention to you and the treats without barking at the other dog.
Ask your dog for an incompatible behavior
When your dog starts barking, ask them to do something that’s incompatible with barking. Teaching your dog to react to barking stimuli with something that inhibits them from barking, such as lying down on their bed.
Example: Someone at the door
- Toss a treat on their bed and tell them to “go to your bed.”
- When they’re reliably going to their bed to earn a treat, up the ante by opening the door while they’re on their bed. If they get up, close the door immediately.
- Repeat until they stay in bed while the door opens.
- Then increase the difficulty by having someone ring the doorbell while your dog is in bed. Reward them if they stay in place.
Barking Can Be Good
Sometimes barking is good. It’s your dog’s main way of communicating with you. They may have heard or smelled something and wants to let you know. Just acknowledging them may well stop the barking, they know you’ve heard and understood. If your dog continues to bark, try a “NO”, or “Quiet” command. When they stop barking, reward them so that following your commands becomes pleasurable to them.
Keep Their Mouth Full!
Giving your dog something to chew on is also a good deterrent to barking. How many dogs have you heard barking with their mouths full? All your dog’s attention is now on the new squeaky toy you gave them!!
Barking Collars (After Trying Traditional Methods)
If the traditional methods don’t seem to be working it may be time to try a barking control collar. Many of these work by using sound so that the desired behavior, (in this case stopping barking), can be associated with the sound. Some of the more sophisticated, and of course expensive, models also use electric shocks to deter the dog from barking.
Types of Detection in Bark Collars
There are two types of bark detection used in Bark control collars. The sound collar uses the noise of your dog’s bark to activate and the vibration collar uses the vibrations from your dog’s throat.
Neither type is perfect. The sound type can be set off with sharp loud external sounds and the vibration type from violent motion such as your dog drying himself. There are collars that combine the two methods and these help reduce the false readings.
Whichever method you use, barking can be brought under control in a reasonably short space of time, so persevere and enjoy your dog for years to come.