Obviously, having a dog means they will bark. But can you control your dogs barking? Maybe train them not to bark unnecessarily? Here are some tips and advice on how to help reduce what your dog will bark at.
Before we start, there are some important things to remember when training your dog:
Never, ever shout at your dog to be quiet – this can be confusing to your dog, stressful and sounds like you’re barking along with them. They won’t understand the reason you’re yelling at them!
Keep your training session positive; positive reinforcement should always be used when training, never punishments.
Consistency is absolutely key. In order to avoid confusing your dog , you and others in your family need to apply the same training techniques when your dog barks inappropriately. If you let them get away with unnecessary barking sometimes and not others, you’re going to confuse them. This can be stressful.
Remove the Motivation. – Most of the time when your dog barks they get some sort of reward. If they didn’t they would do it. This might be the reciprocal bark from another dog, attention from you are even interaction. But what do we mean by remove the motivation?
For example, if your dog is barking at people or animals passing by the window, either remove your dog from the room or close the curtains. Remove the interaction with what/whoever is passing.
If your dog barks incessantly whilst out in the garden, bring them inside. Call them inside to you and praise them for doing so. This positive reinforcement will hopefully discourage them from barking out in the garden.
When you’re not able to supervise your dog out in the garden, don’t let them out by themselves.
This kind of barking is known as “Alarm Barking” and can be the way your dog is telling you that there are potential intruders.
If this kind of barking is sound triggered, try playing white nose or music to drown put the offending sounds,. These can be garbage trucks, children playing outside or even the post man!
If your pooch is going to be home alone for a time, these noises and music can help keep them calm and happy whilst you’re out.
Ignore the Barking. – This method requires a lot of patience and a strong will! If you believe your dog is barking only to get your attention, ignore them for as long as it takes for them to stop.
Whilst they’re barking don’t touch them, interact with them, or even look at them. Most likely, they’re barking to get your attention – any kind of attention. Denying them your attention is removing the “reward” they’re seeking for barking so much.
When they are finally quiet, take a breath, and reward them with a treat.
As stated before, for this to work you need to be very patient. If you wait it out for an hour before giving in, your dog may bark even longer next time. This is not the kind of behaviour you want to encourage. They’re learn that they bark long enough, you will 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.
Desensitisation. – Another method is to gradually get your dog accustomed to whatever is causing them to bark. Start with the stimulus – is your dog barking when a postie comes to the door? Are they barking at children walking past the window on their way to school? What about the garbage truck?
Whatever it is, you need to gradually get your dog accustomed to it in a positive way.
If you know the regular times these things make an appearance, sit with your dog, and wait. As the stimulus comes into view, give your pooch a treat and talk to them in a calm voice.
As it/they get closer, give your dog another treat, talking soothingly. When your dog starts barking, stop giving them treats. This is another method that required time and patience. You want to teach your dog that the appearance of the stimulus leads to good things (this is called positive reinforcement) and will cease to bark at it.
If the stimulus is a person(s) then, added bonus, if you can get them to greet your pup and get to know them, they’ll become used to them.
Example – Your Dog 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.
Alleviate Their Boredom – Excessive barking can be a sign of boredom or frustration in dogs. If you can tackle their boredom, you’re likely to reduce or completely eradicate the unnecessary barking. Oftentimes dogs get stressed when left on their own and barking can be a coping mechanism.
So, how can you stop boredom barking?
Relax My Dog! We were obviously going to mention our very own, proven way to beat boredom, stress, anxiety and under stimulation. We have SO many videos of virtual dog walks, dog tv episodes and music designed especially for pets who are bored, stressed, and anxious.
But you need to find out what kind of tv your dog finds relaxing, Where some may enjoy the virtual dog walks with other (virtual) dogs, others will bark at any other dog, real or on screen! Show your dog a selection of our music and vids and see which ones chill them out the most.
Another way to relieve boredom is to tire them out before you leave in the morning and after you get home. Take them on a lovely, long walk or have a goo play session in your garden. This is great exercise for the both of you and a great way to spend time and bond with your dog.
Other things to consider are making sure your pooch has enough toys to play with, their walked regularly and maybe even think about getting them a play mate?
Get Professional Help – f all else fails, and you’re really out of all other options, not feel bad about asking for help. Talk to your vet or a dog behaviourist. There is no shame in seeking outside help – professionals are there to help you!
Please do bear in mind that everything in this post is strictly advisory and has been gathered from various reputable sources from the internet. We’re not vets, and you should always seek professional advice if you ever have concerns.
Thanks for reading. If you have anything that you would like us to cover, then feel free to get in touch with us over on ourFacebook, Twitter or Instagram!