Dogs bark, birds chirp, cats meow, and cows moo. While listening to these sounds of nature can be soothing, they can often also be irritating. It is important to remember this is one of the ways animals communicate to each other and to us. While barking is a dogs way of sending a message, it doesn’t mean all barking is warranted. Just like other unwanted behaviors, such as chewing shoes or jumping on guests, dogs can be trained to stop barking when not justified.
First, you want to understand why your dog is barking. Dogs bark for many reasons including warning of danger (protective barking), because they are alarmed, they may feel lonely, they may want to induce play, or even seek attention. Clearly some of these reasons, such as warning of an intruder or a natural response to being alarmed, make sense and many of us have dogs for this extra protection. However, the other reasons for barking, such as seeking attention, greeting guests, or even being constantly alarmed by every movement outside, can be very irritating. There are many gadgets and training techniques that you can try to break your dog of unwarranted barking.
Train Your Dog to be Quiet
Teaching your dog to be silent on command is a very useful tool and will come in handy to stop unwanted barking. However, to teach your dog to be silent, first they have to be trained to speak on command. This may sound a little backwards, but this technique has proven to be successful. Once they learn the command for “speak,” they can learn the command for “quiet” (also known as “time to stop barking!”). Ask your trainer for tips on this training or check out some valuable resources here.
A lot of the time dogs are home alone while their owner is working and during these 8 to 10 hours they can get easily bored if they are not provided with enough stimulation. This boredom could lead to barking just for the sole purpose of your creative dog trying to amuse them self. Ensure your dog has enough toys to keep him/her stimulated while you are out to prevent boredom. Check out dog puzzlers for dogs that need that little extra challenge! You can also hire a dog walker (hint, hint) to ensure your pet is getting enough exercise and attention throughout the day. This is especially a great idea if you live in a small space, like an apartment.
Alter the Environment to Rid of Barking Stimulants
The truth is that there are some stimulants that will trigger some dogs to bark regardless. For example, barking in response to an intruder may be a natural response. However, if your dog is watching at the window as people are walking by, how does he/she decipher whether this is a guest, a dangerous intruder, or just a friendly mail man. If these types of things trigger your dog and he is not able to identify the different situations, then you might try to remove the stimulants. Inside you can create a barrier by closing the curtains so your dog is not able to see each passerby. In the yard, if possible have privacy fencing, or if that isn’t possible sometimes planting hedges and taller plants around the boundaries, will help avoid these extra barking stimulants. In addition to visual stimulants, certain noises will also trigger barking. You can use fans, noise machines, a radio on to attempt to mask some of these outside noises that can be problematic.
Train Appropriate Greeting/Play Behaviours
If your dog uses barking as a greeting, or barks excessively as part of playing, it could be quite irritating for you, your guests, or others in close vicinity. Training appropriate greeting and playing behaviours could eliminate this unwanted barking. To train greeting behaviours, it must start with you, as the owner. Once they have this down pat, start introducing visitors to ensure they have an acceptable way of greeting everyone who comes to the door. Maintain calmness when you approach the dog at the door and have special place for them to sit. Your calmness and expectation of your dog to remain calm will go a long way. Of course, initially, rewarding this behavior with treats will get you off to a great start! Remember consistency and patience is crucial!
This will come in handy for dogs that barks out of pure excitement when playing and will give you more control of their barking during these fun times too. There are a lot of resources online to teach your dog the quiet command, and it’s always great to enlist a professional trainer for assistance in properly training your dog to ensure positive behaviors.
If your dog’s barking is chronic, disruptive, and problematic you might need immediate assistance to keep the peace with a Bark Control Aid. There are many different types of aids that will eliminate barking quite quickly such as Electronic Bark Control Collars or Spray Collars. When the aid is triggered by barking it will emit either electric vibration, an ultrasonic noise, or an unwanted scented spray that will give a negative association as a result of barking. Theoretically, the dog will learn to stop barking as the result will not be positive (see Pavolvian Conditioning). Important: keep in mind these tools are not to be used in place of training, daily exercise, and play. They are available to help with other tools when in a problematic situation. Always consult your trainer for appropriate use of these aids.
Remember to stay calm, consistent, and patient and don’t hesitate to seek external help when dealing with problematic dog behavior! And, of course, call Pet City Canada for your pet sitting and dog walking needs to ensure your dog is getting a healthy amount of exercise and stimulation.