How to stop your dog barking

How to stop your dog barking

Barking is a natural reaction for most dogs and is a form of vocal communication.

However, sometimes it can become a problem when the dogs barking is excessive. In order to choose an appropriate training method to stop dogs from excessive barking, you need to first identify the reason they are barking. Yelling at your dog when they are barking will not reduce the behaviour, and can in fact make it worse.

The main goal is to identify why they are barking and providing them with an alternative way to communicate or remove the triggering stimulus. Dogs will bark for numerous reasons such as:

  • Territorial barking
  • Alarm barking
  • Attention-seeking
  • Compulsive barking
  • Socially facilitated barking
  • Frustration-induced barking

Remove the motivation to bark

If your dog barks at animals or people walking by, you can manage this behaviour by closing the curtains or removing your dog to another room. If they bark when outside, you should train them to play with a toy instead, such as a squeaky toy. Give them praise and treats when they use the toy instead of barking.

Ignore the barking

If your dog is barking to get your attention, you should ignore this behaviour. Do not make eye contact or talk to your dog when they are barking. When they stop barking, provide them with a reward.

Desensitise your dog to the stimulus

If your dog barks as specific triggers, you should gradually desensitise them to these. Start by producing the stimulus at a distance, far enough away that they will not bark when they see it. Give your dog treats when they maintain eye contact with you and do not bark. Slowly move the stimulus closer whilst providing treats when they do not engage in the unwanted behaviour. If your dog starts to bark, you have gotten to close to the stimulus and will need to go back to a distance which does not cause your dog to bark.

Barking at other dogs

To stop your dog from barking every time another dog is in sight, you need to desensitise your dog to the stimulus (the dog). You can do this by getting a friend with a dog to stand out of sight or far enough away that your dog does not bark.

Get your friend to slowly come closer, feeding your dog treats. Stop giving your dog treats when the other dog is out of sight. Repeat this several times. It is important to try not to progress too quickly, it can take some time for your dog to pay attention to you and the treats without barking.

Ask for an incompatible behaviour

Whenever your dog begins to bark at a stimulus, you can teach them to perform another behaviour or command which doesn’t allow the barking, such as lying down in their bed.

Barking at visitors

If your dark is triggered when you have visitors over you can teach them to go to a specific spot such as their bed, mat, or crate. If you can, try to make them go to a separate room from where your visitor is. When they go to their spot and stop barking, make sure you reward this behaviour with a treat and praise. When they learn, you can open the door, allowing them to see your visitor. If they begin barking, close the door again. Repeat this process until they reliably stay in their spot.

Barking due to boredom

Barking is another common behavioural problem in dogs when they are bored. Make sure they have plenty of mental stimulation by proving them with chew toys or puzzles and give them an adequate amount of exercise. It is particularly important to exercise your dog before you leave for work in the morning if they are excessively barking during the day. Dogs can also be more likely to bark at other people and animals if they have not been socialised enough.

Teach basic obedience 

Teaching your dog the “quiet” and “lie down” command can be a simple, yet effective way to stop barking. Make sure you provide positive reinforcement when your dog does the command, and they are lying down quietly.

Other tips

You should never punish your dog when they are barking as this could increase the unwanted behaviour. Make sure all of your dog’s needs are being met and put into place the mechanisms to keeping your dog actively quiet.

Remember, if you find these tips aren’t working for your dog, it’s a good idea to speak to your vet who can recommend a qualified behaviourist to help with your situation.

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