Barking is a normal behavior for dogs. Even the most well-behaved, well-trained dogs bark occasionally, and especially when triggered by specific events. It’s unreasonable to expect a dog to never bark; After all, that’s like expecting a child to never talk! However, there is a difference between a normal amount of barking and excessive barking that has become an issue. If you’re concerned about how much your dog is barking, there are steps you can take to help. It’s important to understand that it will take time, practice, and consistency, so having patience will be key. First, let’s look into why dogs bark.
Reasons for Barking
There are a number of reasons why dogs may bark. It’s their main form of vocal communication, and mean several different things based on the situation. Below are the most common triggers for barking:
- Being territorial/protective
- Boredom or loneliness
- Attention seeking
- Separation Anxiety
- Compulsive Barking
Tips for Stopping the Barking
Don’t Encourage Barking
If your dog is barking for attention such as needing food or water or out of boredom, it’s important that you’re not rewarding him for this behavior by giving him what he wants. Instead, wait until he stops barking to respond. If you give him what he wants while he’s barking, he’ll think he’s being rewarded for barking and continue to do this in the future. Conversely, if you ignore him while he barks, but use positive reinforcement when he is quiet, this will teach him.
Use the “Quiet” Command
Instead of yelling at your dog to “stop,” try teaching him the “quiet” command. This way, it’s a skill he’ll be using and you can positively reward him for it, rather than reprimanding. Using a calm and affirmative voice, tell your dog to be “quiet” when he’s barking, and use treats or another reward system when he does the desired behavior.
Manage Surroundings & Anti-Stress Methods
If your dog is an excessive barker when left alone, you can try to better manage his surroundings to distract him. For example, if you’re headed out for a few hours, try turning on the television or radio for some background noise. If he’s known to bark at the mailman or neighbors walking by, shut the blinds before you leave. Knowing his triggers and managing the environment can be extremely helpful. If your dog is barking out of anxiety, you may also want to invest in items such as a stress-reducing collar or anxiety jacket to help manage this. If your dog was properly crate trained, this should also be a safe space for him to go and feel calm with some comfortable bedding and toys.
Dogs that excessively bark at dogs or other people were most likely not fully socialized as puppies. Adding in some extra play dates and socialization for your dog can be extremely helpful! Be sure to use some of the other methods above, such as the quiet method and positive reinforcement, when socializing to keep him on track.
Sign up for Dog Training at Canine College
If you’ve tried these methods and are still having trouble getting your dog barking under control, it may be time to call in the experts! At Canine College, we offer a variety of training methods including private training sessions to give your dog the one-on-one attention he may need, or group training which is helpful for socialization. Contact us today to learn more and sign up today!