Top Dog Training Basics | How To Train Your Dog to Stop Barking
Barking remains one of the most familiar types of vocal communication used by dogs just like whining, growling and howling. However, when it becomes incessant, it might become very uncomfortable to the owner and unbearable for those around. Dogs bark for a variety of reasons and it is important to decode and understand what the cause of each bark is, especially if it is a distress call.
One of the most frequently asked questions by most dog owners is centered around ‘How to train your dog to stop barking ’. There are quite a number of methods that can help train your dog to minimize unwanted noise.
Before implementing any of these methods, it is important to identify what triggers the barking in order to know how to implement both the training and management solutions to address the barking.
First off, let’s start by highlighting some of the possible causes of the barking.
Why Do Dogs Bark
Aside from triggers, genetics can also play a part in your dog’s likelihood to bark.
This is because some dog breeds are more prone to barking than others – examples are Beagles and Terriers.
Some non-genetic triggers include;
- Compulsive Barking
- Territorial Barking
- Alarm Barking
- Separation intolerance
Compulsive Barking: This may be for no apparent reason, but the dog gets agitated and may pace.
Territorial Barking: A response to someone or something entering a dog’s perceived turf.
Greeting: This is a response to a greeting by you or a stranger.
Alarm Barking: A response to a startle, like a sudden unexpected noise.
Attention-Seeking: This is to get resources like your attention, food, toys, or access to the outdoors
Socially-Facilitated/Play: The excitement of having fun with you or canine friends can tip over into barking.
Frustration-Induced: Barking to indicate powerlessness or irritation, like if your dog’s ball rolls under the couch and he can’t reach it.
Boredom: Dogs that are unexercised or under-stimulated will bark to self-soothe or to stay “busy.”
Fear: Fear barks sound scary but are an attempt to maintain or increase distance from something frightening.
Excitement: Triggered by enthusiasm for activities like mealtimes, play or going for a ride in the car.
Separation intolerance: Short-term frustration barking to signal discomfort at being left alone.
How To Train Your Dog to Stop Barking
When it comes to topics like this (How to train your dog to stop barking), there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to curbing the barking issue. This is because there are various reasons that can literally cause the barking. Over the years, various studies have been carried out to ascertain the various ways on how to train your dog to stop barking.
In this post, we’ll be sharing quite a number of simple training/management solutions that will help curb the excessive barking from your puppy, dog or canine. Here are some key things to note in the training;
Understanding why your dog barks is critical to choosing techniques that may work best for your particular situation.
- Training/management solutions require steady and ongoing practice.
- All training/management techniques can be successful
- Do not expect instant results overnight
- What works for another dog may not work for your dog.
- The longer your dog has been practicing the barking behaviour, the longer it will take for them to develop other means of communication or to become desensitized to the things that cause their barking now.
- Yelling at your dog to be quiet won’t reduce their barking. The goal is to identify why your dog is barking and then give them an alternative way to communicate or remove the stimulus that’s causing them to bark.
- Keep your training sessions as brief as possible, positive and upbeat.
- Don’t forget barking is a completely normal part of your dog’s communication tools.
- Be consistent so you don’t confuse your dog.
- Time and patience is what you need to achieve a calmer, less yappy animal, but all will be happier in the long run
Now, here are the various methods you can deploy to help train your dog to stop barking incessantly.
If your dog barks at specific triggers, like the delivery person every time they come to drop a parcel or children riding their bike around the neighbourhood.
If you know what time the mailman will bring in the parcel, sit with your dog and wait. As he comes into view, reward your dog with a treat and talk to them in soothing tones. As he gets closer, reward them again. Once your dog does bark, stop the treats. Sounds quite practical right? In order for your dog to understand this properly, you’ll have to keep doing it repeatedly
You can even add some other welcoming gestures like greeting the mailman politely and introducing him to the dog if that’s not too much for you. Eventually, your dog will understand the treats are better than the barking. They will, essentially, get trained out of the habit.
Removal of the offending trigger/object
Does your dog bark at the neighbour’s cat in the front yard, and you have a lot of them? You obviously cannot eliminate the cat, and even if you could, it won’t be the best option. In cases such as these, you can simply remove the visual stimulus. Closing the blinds or curtains and keeping them out of certain rooms removes the cats from their view. If they can’t see the cats, they won’t be barking at them.
Another possible cause of incessant dog barking is sounds/noise and it’s a whole new approach entirely. For instance, if the sound of the ice cream truck or the children playing next door, you can mask the sounds with white noise or music. A small desktop fan or radio left on can be both soothing and eliminate outside noises, meaning your dog will be quieter and calmer overall.
Provide Toys/Play Objects
This approach is helpful for separation distress barkers, boredom barkers as well as attention-seeking/demand barkers.
Boredom barkers and separation distress barkers can benefit from staying occupied with hard rubber toys that dispense treats. Treat dispensing toys can also help with attention-seeking barkers who react when you’re on the phone or computer.
Add More Exercise to alleviate the Boredom
They bark when you come home, when you leave, in the house or in the yard. Make sure that your dog is getting enough activity.
Nearly every dog can benefit from more exercise, both mental and physical. A dog who has had a good workout will be less likely to be on alert for perceived interlopers or feel the need to pester you for attention.
Take the time to wear your dog out every day with a game of fetch or tug, and get their brain activated by introducing mind-teasers like “find the toy” and hide-and-seek. Remember, a tired dog is a quiet dog.
These devices are quite suitable for dogs that get stressed when left alone, there are several items on the market that can be of help.
Stress-reducing collars typically use pheromone technology or a herbal mixture that helps to relieve anxiety. The pheromones mimic those that nursing dogs release to comfort their pups, while herbal blends simulate pheromones. These are inexpensive and simple to use.
Anxiety wraps or jackets can also be helpful with a stressed or anxious dog that barks a lot.
And remember, you can set up an area of the house/yard/garage that is a “safety zone” for your dog. For added measure, you can provide white noise or music as an extra calming device.
In situations where you’ve tried all these and it ain’t working out, you still have an option of hiring a professional. These could include; Dog trainers, dog whisperers, dog psychologists, canine massage therapists, etc. You just have to figure out which one is the best for your situation and your dog.
Some will take your dog for a period of time for intensive training (typically 1-2 weeks); others will see them on a regular basis for training sessions. Either way, they will also provide you with follow-up instructions and training techniques to continue training at home.
All of these methods are tried and true when it comes to alleviating or eliminating unwanted barking in your furry friend.
Which one you use is dependent on your dog’s temperament, the reason for the barking, and what will make the most sense within your time constraints and budget.
Do not try using intimidating or harsh techniques (like physically striking your dog or threatening to strike your dog, the use of shock collars, or repeated yelling) to eliminate the incessant barking as this may end up interfering with or even breaking the bond between you and your dog.
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