Dog barking is a common problem in many homes, especially if you have an active dog. One of the things that makes this so hard to deal with is the fact that dogs bark for reasons beyond what we can simply train them out of. Dogs often bark to alert their owners when someone comes to the door or enters the home. They might also bark while playing, because they're happy and excited about something, or to get attention.
Barking problems are generally caused by lack of control over your pet or misdirected barking behavior. If you give into your pup's demands every time they bark, then they will think that it works and will continue doing it. Likewise, if you punish them every time they bark (which isn't recommended for a number of reasons), they will probably stop because they are scared, not because they understand what you are trying to teach them.
One very important thing to remember when you are looking for effective ways to stop your canine's excessive barking is that one size does not fit all. No two dogs will respond the same to the same training method. So be prepared to try out a few different techniques before finding the right one for your individual pup.
Stop Your Dog From Barking
1. Determine why your dog is barking
This may sound ridiculous, but you'd be surprised at how many people don't actually know what's causing their dog to bark excessively. Before you can teach your pup not to bark at every leaf that blows past his window, you need to determine WHY he is barking in the first place. If your pet is barking due to separation anxiety or fear of strangers, for example, trying to stop him from doing so will prove extremely difficult (if not impossible). Dogs that suffer from separation anxiety are much more likely to respond favorably to calming aids like Rescue Remedy , which can help them calm down enough so they learn not to depend on you to make them feel secure.
Fearful dogs should be given as much (if not more) attention as possible during times when their anxiety typically peaks, such as when strangers come over or when you leave the house. This will help them to develop a positive association with whatever caused them to bark in the first place. Fearful dogs that bark excessively may also benefit from seeing a behavior counselor and/or taking anti-anxiety medications like fluoxetine and clomipramine . For some ideas on how to deal with separation anxiety and fear issues, click here.
2. Health Concerns
While most cases of excessive barking are behavioral, it can also be caused by underlying health conditions like tumors of the inner ear (which can cause deafness), thyroid disease (which can cause weight loss) ear infections, diabetes, pain from arthritis or injuries, and even separation anxiety. It's important to rule these out first before trying to implement any training techniques.
If your dog is acting out excessively it might be due to stress, so make sure his living environment is as free of stressors as possible. Your dog's physical and mental health are directly related , so if he's not feeling well then you won't see the best behavior either.
If your pet barks at certain things but makes no attempt to escape his environment (for example, barking at cars that pass outside his house), you can desensitize him by rewarding calm behavior and ignoring vocalizations. This is best accomplished by pairing the passing vehicle with a treat, so your pup quickly learns that "oh goodie, it's the car! I get a treat!" Other objects/situations you can work on include newspaper delivery trucks, people walking past your home, loud motorcycles or other sources of excessive noise.
4. Make sure they have their basic needs met
For example, if you're keeping your dog in the backyard all day long then make sure there is easy access to fresh water and shade . Also, socialization is another great way to keep him happy, so get him out there and meet new people!
5. Use the "Quiet!" command
Teach them they should be quiet on command. To do this, first set up a training session where you have plenty of treats with you so that your pet knows they will soon be getting some yummy snacks. Have someone hold onto your furry friend's leash while you see how many barks they will give before stopping. When they starts barking, immediately say their name followed by "Quiet!" or simply "Shh" - whatever word/sound works best for them. Then, when they stop barking for even just one second, throw them a treat so that they know not barking equals treats. Once your pet seems to have the hang of this, have your partner let them go free so you do not have to worry about holding their leash. Just stay near enough to them so you can immediately say "Quiet!" if they starts barking again. It is very important to be consistent, and instruct everyone in your family or household use the same commands.
6. Keep your dog occupied
Dogs who bark for hours on end because they are bored simply need to be given more exercise and mental stimulation. Try engaging in lots of interactive playtime with your pet each day, and if he doesn't have his own chew toys, give him a frozen kong filled with peanut butter or frozen treats when you can't actively entertain him (e.g., when you leave the house). If they are already tired from playing but still barking, consider crating them somewhere quiet and dimly lit until they fall asleep; this alone will do wonders for helping your pup calm down.
Get rid of his old toys. Dogs get bored very easily, especially if they are alone all day long. This boredom usually manifests itself through bad behaviors like digging, barking or chewing furniture. Just like kids, dogs need plenty of stimuli in order to keep them entertained. Getting Them new toys every now and then will certainly help reduce any frustration that comes from being stuck at home with nothing fun to do.
7. Ignore barking completely
This is probably the last thing you want to hear if your pet barks excessively at everything in sight. But there are times when ignoring your dog's vocalizations will prove much more effective than trying to correct them. If your dog barks at visitors but makes no attempt to get closer or escape the situation, try acting like you can't hear them and completely ignoring their barking. Since most dogs "speak" in order to get attention (even negative attention will do), not getting any attention at all is a pretty strong punishment. If your pet is still barking after several minutes of this treatment, it's probably time to try something else.
8. Crate train your pooch
A crate isn't just useful when your pup is going through obedience training, it can also help with certain behavioral issues as well. By confining them to a comfortable den whenever you leave the house, you will be able to prevent excessive barking and make sure they will not hurt themselves. Just make sure never to use it as some sort of punishment arena. Even if you use the right type of crate, they might get hurt more than if they were just left to bark.
9. Make sure that they gets plenty of sleep
It is no secret that dogs are usually pretty tired during the day , but not getting enough shut-eye at night can cause all sorts of problems for their behavior as well . If your dog starts barking during their usual sleeping hours, try giving them a nice long cuddle to tire them out. You will both sleep better because of it.
10. Never show them they are scaring you
This is a tip which might sound a little counterintuitive, but it's definitely one that you should try if your furry friend is barking because of some stressful situation. By showing fear, you are basically telling them whatever made you scared is a very big deal, and in turn, this will make them feel frightened about whatever happened as well.
11. Ask someone else to deal with your dog
If desensitization, training and positive reinforcement have not worked for you thus far, consider enlisting someone else to help out if necessary. Whether you hire a dog trainer or ask a friend or family member for assistance, having another person around can really make things easier for you. A simple obedience class can drastically reduce any bad behaviors that your dog might have - plus, this will increase the bond between the two of you as well. Hiring a dog trainer is also an excellent way to break any unwanted habits , and they will give you plenty of homework to do in order for your furry friend to learn new tricks!
12. Sonic Bark Deterrents
Noise making machines produce high-pitched sounds in response to barking. The noise is ultrasonic, meaning humans can’t hear it, but dogs can. The tone annoys them, so it acts as a correction, and it stops when the barking stops. Therefore, your dog will learn that barking brings on the noise and silence makes it go away.
These devices come in both indoor and outdoor versions. Both respond to barking from any dog as long as that dog is within range of the machine. This is a bonus if you have more than one dog and both are barkers. The outdoor machines are also great for shushing dogs in your neighbors’ yards which can prevent barking competitions between your dog and theirs. However, if you have multiple dogs and only one dog is a nuisance barker, take note that all the dogs will receive the device’s correction.
These devices have a specific range, so placement is key. The machine should be facing your dog, and your dog must be within the detection area of the machine’s microphone. Finally, keep the area between the dog and the device clear so nothing blocks the ultrasonic noise. Be sure to turn the machine off when you aren’t dealing with nuisance barking otherwise your dog may get used to the tone.
13. Use citronella collars
Available in both automatic and manual versions, citronella collars are actually very effective tools when it comes to stopping excessive barking in dogs . The collar releases a harmless stream of citronella scent whenever your pet barks. They will soon learn that quiet times are much more enjoyable, and you can teach them to bark on command for some extra special attention.
14. Muzzle your dog
If your pet is highly excitable and/or easily spooked, a muzzle can be a humane way to keep him from hurting himself or others when he's unable to stop barking.
In rare cases, your dog might simply be too hardwired into his wild nature. These pups are always going to love barking at every noise that comes their way . If this sounds like your pooch then there isn't a whole lot you can do other than trying to take him out of stressful situations and hoping for the best.
If you are consistent this training will not take long, but your canine may continue to slip up and bark inappropriately for several more weeks or months after you have successfully trained them. It takes time to rewrite DNA and replace years of habit.
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