How To Stop A Dog From Barking
Firstly, it is important to note that it is natural for dogs to bark. You can’t expect a dog to be silent all the time without being allowed to do what comes natural to them. However, a lot of dog owners struggle with excess barking. Some dogs will bark at anything, or sit at home barking all day long which isn’t good news for your neighbours. In some cases something needs to be done about a dog’s barking.
Why do dogs bark?
Dogs bark for a variety of different reasons. Dogs use barking to communicate with other dogs and humans. Different types of barking include attention seeking barking, territorial barking, compulsive barking and barking out of frustration.
If your dog is barking a lot they could be doing it because they are bored, scared, excited, frustrated, guarding something or simply trying to get your attention. Sometimes owners accidentally encourage their dog to bark more without even realising it. Dogs have learn’t that in certain situations if they bark, they get a reward.
Find out what they are barking at
If you want to try and stop your dog barking so much one of the first things you should do is try and find out what they are barking at. What is their reason for barking? In some cases the reason is very obvious, such as barking at people or dogs walking by the window.
Take the stimulus away
Once you have figured out what it is they are barking at try and stop your dog from seeing it. For example, if they bark at dogs that walk past your house put them into a different room where they can’t see them or shut the curtains. If it is a noise they are reacting to put the television on so that they can’t hear it. Taking the stimulus away is not always possible, read on to discover more tips.
Give them a distraction
Some trainers suggest distracting your dog when they bark. This includes doing things like throwing them their favourite ball or getting them to do a command such as ‘paw’ or ‘touch’ for a treat.
The licking a lid trick
Licking can be self-soothing for dogs, it immediately calms them down. It also releases pleasurable endorphins which help with stress release. If your dog is continuously barking put something really tasty on an ice cream tub lid (not ice cream!) such as cheese and get them to lick it off. This doesn’t work with all dogs but it distracts some dogs and helps them to calm down.
Don’t encourage the barking in any way
If you want your dog to stop barking then you need to make sure you are not encouraging it in any way. When your dog barks for attention don’t go over and stroke them, ignore them until they are quiet. Pay attention to when they are barking and be aware of your reactions.
Reward your dog when they stop barking
One technique to help reduce barking is to reward your dog when they stop. If they are barking non stop wait until they eventually get tired or bored and as soon as they are silent reward them. You can reward them by simply throwing a treat over every time they go quiet.
If your dog is barking at something in particular, such as a piece of furniture, a specific person or dog then try desensitisation. This is where you get them to gradually confront the stimulus. Start off by placing your dog a fair distance from the stimulus. Then as you get closer reward them when they don’t show any reaction.
You should eventually be able to get very close to the stimulus without your dog reacting. However, it is important to only do this if it is safe to do so. If your dog shows any signs of aggression consult a dog behaviourist.
Teach them to the ‘quiet’ trick
If you can teach your dog to bark on command then you should be able to teach them to be quiet on demand. You can do this by rewarding them when they are quiet and when they get the hang of it mark it as they ‘quiet’ command by saying quiet and rewarding them if they do not bark.
Is your dog bored?
Some dogs bark because they are bored. They might be left at home all day with nothing to do or want more attention from their owner. If your dog barks a lot it is worth checking whether they are getting enough exercise. If they have a lot of energy built up they are more likely to bark.
Dogs also need a certain amount of mental stimulation to keep them happy. Make sure your dog is not barking because they are simply bored. Get them some new toys to play with such as that will engage their brain. Spend more time playing with them as well as doing some extra training to test their mind. This should help reduce the barking.
Don’t join in by shouting at them
Lots of people will shout at their dog as soon as they start barking. What they don’t realise is this only encouraging their dog to bark even more. It’s like when someone is shouting at you, your instant reaction is to shout back at them. You are just having a barking match with your dog. Also, the more agitated you get, the more your dog will feed off your energy and continue to bark. So stay calm and don’t shout when giving your dog instructions.
Barking prevention products
There are also some specialist products that can help with dogs that bark excessively.