Excessive barking can be like nails on a chalkboard for both pet owners and neighbors! To help curb your pups barking, you’ll need identify why your dog feels the need to bark. Are they afraid? Excited? Bored? Hungry? Seeking attention? Are they a barking-prone breed or mix such as a beagle, terrier, or herding dog? To start, make sure your dog has adequate food, water, exercise and attention. Some breeds require more attention or exercise than others. Bored dogs will often attempt to expel their excess energy by barking for long periods. The solution may be as simple as longer daily dog walks, doggie play dates, or a daily session of tug-of-war.
Tips to Reduce Dog Barking:
What Not to Do
Don’t yell at your dog for barking, he will think you are barking with him! It’s intuitive to yell at your dog for barking since that is how we often handle misbehaving humans, but It is critical to remember dogs are not humans. They don’t understand yelling to correct behaviors because they don’t speak english (or any other language). Raising you voice can make your dog anxious and afraid of you and damage your trust…thus encouraging him to ignore your commands and making it harder for you to train him in the future.
Don’t soothe your dog either. Dog’s view your attention as a reward, and your dog will begin to associate barking with being rewarded. Your attention will also reinforce that there was a reason to bark at in the first place.
What to Do
Be consistent and have everyone in your house practice the same training methods. Make sure everyone is using the same command and reward. Agree on one word such as “no bark” or “quiet”.
Have daily training sessions for 5-10 minutes, short but frequent sessions are the most effective.
Ignore barking at all costs, no matter how long it goes on. Any attention you give him will encourage more barking. This includes barking while on daily dog walks.
When ignoring barking, try not to make eye contact with your dog. They are most likely viewing your reaction to their barking as positive attention. To a dog, getting attention means “Wow my owner is so proud, I am such a good bark-er. I will bark even louder now!” Essentially, any attention you give your dog while they barks is a reward and will encourage them to keep yapping.
Of course, when barking goes on for long periods of time, ignoring and maintaining composure and patience becomes more difficult. Remember, eventually you eventually cave in and yell at them (yelling=attention), they will just keep barking for longer and longer periods, knowing eventually you will give them the attention they want. Go to a place where you can’t hear them or pop in some ear plugs.
The time to reward your dog is when they finally calms down and stop barking. Give them a treat and some attention when they stop. Daily dog walks are also a great reward. Vary the time it takes for him to get a treat and attention. Sometimes wait for 5 seconds, other times 15 seconds, 20 seconds, back to 5 seconds, etc. This will keep it interesting for your dog and teach him that the safest bet for getting a treat is to be quiet. Slowly lengthen the amount of silent time necessary for a treat.
You can try to desensitize your dog to the stimulus that causes them to bark. Does the sight of other dogs sends your dog in a complete mental breakdown. Coordinate daily dog walks with a friend or neighbor. Ask them to hold their dog far enough away from you that your dog doesn’t bark. Reward your dog with extra delicious treats (such as chicken). Remember, your rewarding your dog for seeing another dog and not barking. Stop feeding your dog treats when the dog is out of sight. Keep repeating this. After a while, ask your friend to come a bit closer and repeat using the same process. The point of this training is to teach your dog that seeing the bark-provoking stimulus (e.g. another dog) is a good thing and leads to yummy treats! This can take weeks and weeks of training so be patient, the reward of more tranquil walks will be worth it!
You can teach your dog to busy themselves with something else besides barking. For example, tell them to lie down whenever the doorbell rings. The “lie down” method is great since dogs are less likely to bark when lying down. Whenever they stop barking and lie down, reward them with a treat. Repeat this until they lies down on their own when the doorbell rings and continue to reward with treats for being so good!
Teach your dog “speak” and “quiet” commands. Ask your dog to “speak” and wait for them to bark a few times, then reward with a treat. Repeat this over time until he learns to bark upon you saying “speak”. Once he knows “speak” you can teach him “quiet”.
Always teach “quiet” in a calm place with no distractions. Tell him to “speak” and when he starts barking tell him “quiet”. When he stops barking after “quiet”, reward with a treat. Repeat this command in increasingly difficult situations with more and more distractions. A good idea is to start in your bedroom eventually move to the dog park.
Soon enough you’ll enjoy a dog who behaves for attention, instead of barking for it!
For more information on barking, visit these sites: