How to Stop Your Dog Barking
A dog’s barking is a perfectly natural form of behaviour and you can’t expect a dog to never to bark at all, but if a dog barks a lot, it can extremely annoying for the dog owner and it can cause problems with the neighbours too.
A dog’s bark is one of the ways that it communicates and it is important to understand why a dog barks before you start to worry about how to stop a dog barking. Dogs might bark when a person or another dog encroaches on their territory, they bark to give an alarm, they might bark because they are seeking attention, or they may just bark because they are bored or frustrated. Identifying why your dog is barking is the first step towards being able to stop your barking at inappropriate times or barking excessively.
Most dog owners would be grateful if their dog barks at an intruder, so you probably wouldn’t want to stop your dog barking altogether, but incessant barking can be a big problem for dog owners, so here are some tips on how to stop a dog barking.
1. Keep a barking diary
If you can’t tie down what it is that is causing your dog to bark, keeping a bark diary may help to isolate the root cause of the barking. Keeping a track of the time and what is occurring around that time will help you identify what is causing the dog to bark and that will help you tackle the problem. If your dog barks when you are not at home, you could use electric means to find out what causes your dog to bark, such as a webcam or a noise activated security system.
2. Stay calm and take control
Constant barking can be extremely annoying, but it is important that you keep your cool and maintain your authority over the dog. If you lose your temper and start shouting at your dog, there is a good chance that the dog will bark even more, because it will get even more excited and because dogs don’t react well to unbalanced leadership.
3. Own what the dog is barking at
If the dog always barks at a particular object or a person, you will need to make it clear to your pet that you own that particular stimulus. You can do this by placing yourself between the object and your dog and making it clear that you accept the object and that it is yours.
4. Create physical barriers between the stimulus and the dog
One of the simplest ways to stop a dog barking is to prevent the dog from seeing the stimulus that is triggering the behaviour. You could use privacy fencing in the yard, for example, or curtains at the windows of your home.
5. Anti-bark collars
There is a range of different types of very effective anti-bark dog collars on the market that will help train a dog not to bark excessively. There are electric shock bark collars that issue a mild electric shock as a stimulus when the dog barks, there are citronella spray collars that issue a harmless spray on the dog’s nose when the collar is triggered by barking, and there are ultrasonic anti bark collars that emit a sound that the dog will find unpleasant.
6. Exercise your dog
Excessive barking can be a result of pent up energy. If that is the case with your pet, making sure that your dog is properly exercise will help to stop the barking. Take your dog on longer, more interesting walks, play with your pet more often, and give the dog more challenging things to do. All these things will all help to stop a dog barking.
7. Be firm and follow through
When you are training your dog not to bark, you need to be firm and you need to be consistent. Use the same word, such as “no” or “quiet” and the same gestures to chastise your dog every time they bark unnecessarily and focus on your dog, repeating those words and gestures, until they stop barking. It is important to make it absolutely clear to the dog that the barking is unacceptable, so you can’t just say the word once and then let the dog carry on barking; you need to follow it all the way through until the barking stops.
8. Don’t inadvertently reward the barking
A common mistake that many people make is they inadvertently reward barking when their pet gets excited. This often happens when a dog owner gets home and the dog becomes very excited to see their owner and starts jumping up and barking. Of course, the natural response to that behaviour is to pet the dog and tell them you are happy to see them too, but what you are effectively doing by doing that is rewarding them for their barking, which gives a confusing message to the dog about their barking behaviour.
9. But do reward the good behaviour
As with any type of training, you need to let the dog know when they have they done the right thing by rewarding them in some way. If the dog does stop barking when you give them the relevant command, make a fuss of them, without getting them over-excited again, or give them a small treat as a reward for the good behaviour.
10. Get professional help to stop dog barking
If you can’t get the dog to stop barking on your own, you could ask a professional dog trainer to help you. Owning a dog is a big responsibility and if you do have a dog that barks a lot, it might annoy your neighbours and the local authorities might even get involved. Paying the cost of hiring a professional dog trainer might be better than potentially having to lose your pet.
11. Ignore the barking
Although this point might seem to contradict some of the other points listed here, sometimes, if a dog is barking to gain attention, ignoring the barking can be an effective way to curb excessive barking. You may need some patience to make this work, but if you do think that your dog is barking because it wants attention, ignore your dog completely until the barking stops, and then reward the dog when it does eventually go quiet. If your dog learns that barking will get him nowhere, but being quiet gains it the attention it seeks, that will soon stop the constant barking for attention.
12. Teach your dog an alternative behaviour
If your dog always barks at a particular event, for example, someone ringing your front door bell, you can correct the behaviour by teaching the dog that another response is expected to that event instead of barking. To do this, you could start telling your dog to go to his bed when the doorbell rings and rewarding your pet with a treat when it complies.
13. Give your dog toys to play with
Dogs that bark when their owner is not at home can be a big problem, because the owner may not even know there is a problem until they receive complaints from the neighbours. The most likely reason that dogs bark when they are left alone is that they are bored, so leave some toys for your dog to play with when you go out and see if that helps. Alternatively, some people find that leaving a TV or a radio switched on will help to keep a dog occupied.
14. Talk to your vet
Remember that barking is how dogs communicate, so it could be that your dog is actually trying to tell you that something is wrong. If you can’t work out why your dog is barking a lot, especially if that behaviour is unusual for your pet, you should take your dog to the veterinarian, because it could be that the dog is barking because it is in pain or feeling some form of discomfort.
15. Discipline and exercise
For most dogs that bark too much, firm discipline and plenty of exercise will solve the problem. The most common reasons that dogs bark too much are boredom, pent up energy and over-excitement and all of these things can be usually be remedied quite easily by keeping the dog occupied, making sure that it gets plenty of exercise, and with good, firm training.
When you are training your dog not to bark, you have to start off from the basis that barking is normal behaviour for a dog. What you want to do is train your dog not to bark at inappropriate times and not to bark constantly. Training aids, such as electronic anti-bark collars can be a great help when training a dog not to bark, but they should only be used as a training aid, not as the solution to the problem on their own. If you make sure that your dog is getting plenty of exercise and stimulation and you make appropriate use of discipline and rewards, you should be able to get most dogs’ barking behaviour under control relatively easily.