Barking Bad- How to get your dog to stop barking.
Have you become exasperated trying to figure out how to get your dog to stop barking? It’s in a dog’s nature to bark. They enjoy barking, and they bark for a plethora of reasons. They will bark when they want something, when they are playing, when they are establishing territory, when they are spooked, when they are irritated, even when they are just saying “Hello!” Excessive barking, however, can drive a dog’s family–and others–crazy!
Here’s a list of techniques that can aid in getting your dog to stop barking. While all of them can be very effective, you shouldn’t expect miraculous results overnight. The longer your dog has been practicing the barking conduct, the longer it will take for him to change his ways.
Always remember to keep these tips in mind while training:
- Don’t shout at your dog to get him to hush—it just sounds like you’re barking along with him.
- Keep your training sessions positive
- Be predictable so you don’t confuse your dog. Everyone in your family must apply the training methods every time your dog barks inappropriately. You can’t let your dog get away with inappropriate barking some times and not others.
- Remove the stimulus
Your dog gets some kind of recompense when he barks. Otherwise, he wouldn’t do it. Figure out what he gets out of barking and remove it. Don’t give your dog the chance to continue the barking behavior.
Example: barking at passersby
- If he barks at people or animals passing by the windows, manage his behavior by closing the curtains or putting your dog in a different room.
- If he barks at passersby when he’s outdoors, bring him into the house.
- Ignore the barking
Disregard your dog’s barking for as long as it takes him to stop. That means don’t give him any attention at all while he’s barking. Your attention only rewards him for being riotous. Don’t speak to him, don’t touch him, and don’t even look at him. When he finally quiets, reward him with a treat.
For this method to be effective, you must wait as long as it takes for him to stop barking. If he barks for an hour and you finally get so balked that you yell at him to be quiet, the next time he’ll probably bark for an hour and a half. He learns that if he just barks long enough you’ll give him attention.
Example: barking when constricted
- When you put your dog in his crate or in a gated room, turn your back and ignore him.
- Once the barking ceases, turn around, praise him, and give him a treat.
- As he realizes that being quiet gets him a treat, lengthen the amount of time he must stay quiet before being rewarded.
- Be mindful to start small by rewarding him for being quiet for just a few seconds, then working up to longer periods of silence.
- Keep things lively by varying the amount of time. Sometimes reward him after 5 seconds, then 12 seconds, then 3 seconds, then 20 seconds, and so on.
- Desensitize your dog to the incentive
Progressively get your dog used to whatever is causing him to bark. Start with the stimulus (the thing that makes him bark) at a distance. It must be far enough away that he doesn’t bark when he sees it. Feed him lots of yummy treats. Move the stimulus a little closer (perhaps as little as a few inches or a few feet to start) and feed treats. If the stimulus moves out of sight, stop giving your dog treats. You want your dog to learn that the appearance of the stimulus leads to good things.
Example: barking at other dogs
- Have someone with a dog stand out of sight or far enough away so your dog won’t bark at the other dog.
- Ask this person and their dog come into view, start feeding your dog lots of treats.
- Cease feeding treats as soon as this person and their dog disappear from view.
- Repeat the process multiple times.
- Remember not to try to progress too fast as it may take days or even weeks before your dog can pay attention to you and the treats without barking at the other dog.
- Familiarize your dog with the “quiet” command
It may sound absurd, but the first step of this technique is to teach your dog to bark on command. Give your dog the command to “speak,” wait for him to bark two or three times, and then stick a tasty treat in front of him. When he stops barking to sniff the treat, praise him and give him the treat. Reiterate until he starts barking as soon as you say “speak.”
Once your dog can bark on command, teach him the “quiet” command. In a calm environment with no distractions, tell him to “speak.” When he starts barking, say “quiet” and stick a treat in front of his nose. Commend him for being quiet and give him the treat.
Example: visitor at the door
- When the doorbell rings, your dog signals you to the presence of an “intruder” by barking uncontrollably.
- Once you’ve coached your dog on the “quiet” command in a calm environment, practice in increasingly distracting situations until your dog can immediately stop barking when asked to, even when that “intruder” arrives at the door.
- Ask your dog for an incompatible behavior
When your dog starts barking, ask him to do something that’s inconsistent with barking. Teach your dog to react to barking stimuli with something that represses barking, such as lying down in his bed.
Example: visitor at the door
- Toss a treat on his mat and instruct him to “go to your place.”
- When he’s going to his mat to earn a treat, up the ante by opening the door while he’s on his mat. If he gets up, close the door right away.
- Reiterate until he stays on his mat while the door opens.
- Heighten the difficulty by having someone ring the doorbell while your dog is on his mat. Reward him if he stays in place.
- Keep your dog busy
Make sure your dog receives ample physical and mental exercise every day. A tired dog is a well-behaved dog and one who is less likely to bark from boredom or frustration. Depending on his breed, age, and health, your dog may require numerous long walks as well as a good game of chasing the ball and playing with interactive toys.
By Mariamell Tejada