Does your dog constantly bark? Does your dog burst into a fit of barking anytime someone comes to the door or walks past your window? This kind of barking can not only be irritating, but can also be stressful for your pet. Fortunately, there are some effective dog training techniques to help get your dog to stop barking.
Reasons Why Dogs Bark
First of all, not all barking is bad. Dogs bark for a wide range of reasons. They may bark when they want to play, to get our attention, when they are fearful or aggressive, or when they are just plain bored. Sometimes it’s hard to tell why they are barking. However, you’ll probably pick up on your dog’s different barks after awhile, and be able to tell what is going on.
Is Barking a Problem?
The kind of bark that is generally a problem, and the kind that people want to stop are the explosive bursts of loud and frantic barking that happens when your dog sees or hears something that gets them going. This is often accompanied by a dash to the door or window and furious jumping or scraping. After the stimulus is gone, the dog will generally calm down slowly and return to their regular routine. This behavior can be very annoying if your dog gets set off frequently, potentially damaging things in your home or even themselves.
This type of barking is generally territorial in nature. Your dog is letting the unknown intruder that this is their turf, and that they are not welcome. Although this is natural behavior in many dogs, it usually can, and should be curbed, not only for your sanity, but also for their well-being and safety.
Yelling at Your Dog Will Not Make Them Stop Barking
Yelling at or scolding your dog to stop barking doesn’t accomplish anything productive. If you yell loud enough, you may scare your poor dog into submission for the moment, but the next time somebody walks past your window, your dog will go right back to barking up a storm. An agitated state tends to create more agitation, not less. Try to stay calm when dealing with your pet, at all times. It’s not only better for you, and them, but will almost always be more productive.
Tips for Getting Your Dog to Stop Barking
Try applying the following techniques to stop your dog from barking. Be consistent and patient.
Make Sure Your Dog Gets Plenty of Exercise
Some dogs have a lot more energy than others, and need to burn that energy off somehow. In many homes, dogs are stuck inside all day, getting bored, and getting pent up energy. Their barking at strangers or noises is a necessary release for them. Make sure you understand how much exercise your pet needs, and ensure they get it every day. This makes it more likely that they will be relaxing inside the house, instead of anxiously waiting for a noise or motion to bark at.
Give Your Dog a Treat for Not Barking
When you are at home with your dog, pay attention to times that they do not bark. If they don’t react to a stimulus, or if their reaction is toned-down, tell them “yes,” and give them a tasty treat. Using positive reinforcement is one of the most effective methods for modifying behavior and teaching skills.
Use Food Puzzle Toys to Keep Your Dog Occupied
Food puzzle toys are a great way to keep your dog occupied and focused on something other than the front door during the day. They have to work to get the highly-rewarding food out of the device, which keeps them from getting bored. Also, because they are getting food, it is highly rewarding for them to use it.
Don’t Allow Your Dog to See Out of the Window
One of the simplest, and most common sense solutions to a dog that barks at things outside, is to simply cover your windows. This is particularly effective for dogs that are triggered by sight but not sound. Whether you close your curtains or restrict your dog’s access to the room with the big window, the result is the same. If many dogs can’t see what sets them off, then they won’t get set off. Sitting at the window all day and barking at people and animals is very rewarding for a bored dog.
Use Noise to Mask Outside Sounds
Likewise, if your dog is set off by noises and sounds, then use some type of noise to mask outside sounds. You can leave the TV or a radio on, or use a fan to create white noise that helps minimize outside noise. You can even use a white-noise machine, which is particularly good at reducing noises from outside.
Should I Use a Bark Collar to Stop My Dog From Barking?
A bark collar, also known as a shock collar, is a device that gives your dog an electrical shock when they bark. These are not only inhumane, but generally ineffective. First of all, they don’t fix whatever the actual problem is. Your dog’s barking is a symptom of something that needs to be addressed, not shocked. Also, these collars regularly go off at sounds other than your dog barking. Other dogs barking and dogs barking on TV are two examples of when these collars can incorrectly zap your pet. Also, this type of punishment is generally less effective than positive reinforcement, as well as more beneficial for your dog and your relationship with them.
Should I Hire a Dog Trainer or Behaviorist to Get My Dog to Stop Barking?
If you’ve tried all of these things for a period of time and you’ve made no progress, you might want to think about bringing in a professional dog trainer or dog behaviorist to help you out. There might be factors or issues causing your dog’s barking that a professional can identify that you aren’t aware of. Or, they might be able to give you tips and instruction on how to more effectively apply what you’ve been doing. If you do hire someone, do your research and make sure you find someone who has experience with modifying dog behavior, not just someone who teaches basic dog obedience.