…does it apply to your dog?

There’s a lot going on in the media these days regarding our right to free speech. But do dogs have that same right? I’m talking about barking, of course!

You cannot expect a dog to never bark. That would be like expecting a person to never talk. Barking occurs for a number of reasons:

  • Fear
  • Boredom
  • Greeting
  • Separation anxiety
  • Protection
  • Compulsive behavior

To curb your dog’s excessive barking, you first have to know what triggers their barking. Consistency, time and positive rewards will get you the progress you are looking for.

Here are a few examples of knowing why your dog is barking and what to try:

If the behavior is protective or territorial — try limiting what your dog can see. Close drapes, put up slats in fencing, etc.

If the behavior is because of boredom — take them to doggy daycare while you are at work or have a neighbor come over for brief play periods while you’re away. Food dispensing toys might also work.

If your dog barks as a greeting — select a spot away, but still within sight, of the door. Have your pooch go to that spot and stay with a reward. Do not open the door until “stay” has been secured. Once you can open the door and he/she stays on that spot, practice with someone actually coming to the door.

If your pet barks when you come home, DO NOT REWARD THIS BEHAVIOR with petting and attention. Wait until he/she is quiet to acknowledge and praise.

We humans need to know that shouting “SHUT UP” only makes your canine buddy think that you’re going in on the action. And negative attention to a dog is better than no attention at all!  Don’t yell — speak commands firmly. Choose a command word that makes sense. “Quiet” or “hush” works well.

Catch him during the act of barking. Calmly tell him “quiet” and wait for the barking to stop. Immediately reward with a treat and kind words. Do this over and over (and over…and over) and they will eventually catch on that when they hear the command “quiet” and they stop barking, they get a yummy treat. The better the treat — the quicker the lesson can be learned!

Another way to train to cease barking is to teach them to “speak”. Since dogs often pick up on their companion’s body language, while your dog is barking, hold your finger in front of his or her lips and say “quiet”. Then reward. 

Then say “speak” and let the barking continue. Again, reward. Soon they will catch on and vocalize on command.

If you have allowed this problem to continue for a long time it will seem like forever before you see results because the behavior has become ingrained. BE PATIENT!

There are devices on the market that might work. Off-collar water sprayers or noisemakers can often deter barking, but they are best used when you are home and can give rewards and praise when the barking stops. 

One more note: NEVER, EVER use shock collars to train a dog not to bark. Dogs may associate the pain with the subject that they are barking at and turn aggressive towards that subject.