How To Stop Your Dog From Barking
Barking is completely natural, much like sleeping, walking, and breathing. But excessive barking?
That’s a completely different ball game, in fact, it often signals insufficient training. (plus it’s extremely irritating after the first few cute ‘puppy barks’)
You’re not alone though, in fact, it’s one of the most common issues that new dog owners face.
You’re probably wondering:
How do I stop them from barking?
There are two components to examine when it comes to stopping your dog from barking.
Firstly, you have to understand the causation and what actually triggers them to bark excessively. Once you know this you can begin to take the necessary measures to combat it.
Secondly, you have to know the proactive and retroactive measures which actively minimize the barking.
So without further ado, this is how to stop your dog from barking (excessively).
Why do dogs bark?
There are multiple triggers/stimuli that can cause your dog to turn the bark machine on, here are a few:
When there is someone at the door - perhaps the most common one, and it’s usually just your dogs natural protective instincts kicking in so there isn’t too much reason to worry (watch out Mr Postman).
If your dog isn't barking when there is someone at the door you might have a reason to worry, unless your dog has super-dog-like abilities and can see through doors, they don’t know if it's a familiar person or a big bad burglar lurking on the other side.
This type of barking has been coined the term ‘alarm barking’
When someone/something invades their ‘territory’ - much like other reasons on this list, it’s completely natural. However, there is a fine line between normal and excessive.
As the threat/stimuli gets closer and closer your dogs barking will get progressively louder. Your dog may appear extremely alert with their tail up and ear pinned back, maybe even a few teeth showing if the other dog is especially close.
All dogs are different but this can be an absolute pain at the dog park, with other dog owners thinking you’re that dog owner with the aggressive dog.
When they are feeling lonely - Before complete domestication, dogs were pack animals. They hunted, ate, slept, and traveled together. So it’s completely normal that they have retained some of this ‘pack mentality’, meaning that if they are left alone for extended periods they can resort to barking to express their discomfort.
I’m sure every dog owner has got that dreaded text from a neighbor “Your dog has been non-stop barking since you left”.
It’s because they miss you!
When they are attention-seeking - a trait much more common in humans but still very prevalent in dogs too (chihuahua’s we’re looking at you!). If your dog bathes in the attention they’ll regularly crave it, sometimes in the form of barking.
This one has a very easy fix and we’ll dive into it in part two!
When they are experiencing separation anxiety - One human year is equal to 7 dog years so I’m sure you can imagine how long it must feel for your furry friend when you go to work. What is only a few hours for you will seem like days for your dog, often one of the main causes of excessive barking.
They will usually display other symptoms too, like pacing, shaking, destructiveness (brand new sofa you have been warned) and whining/whimpering.
How do I actually get my dog to stop barking?
Great questions! Now that we’ve understood the underlying causes, it is much easier to actually address these issues and take retro/proactive precautions.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, here are a few things to remember:
- Shouting at your dog won’t get you anywhere, much like a human interaction when both parties are yelling at each other. Stay composed, relaxed and in complete control, your dog will notice this.
- Invent a trigger word, shouting and yelling do next to nothing for your dog, you’ll need a trigger work like ‘quiet’ or ‘go to your bed’
Right, now let's talk about the most effective methods to stop your dog from barking.
Method 1: Removing all Motivations
Dog’s bark for a reason, and usually the reason is the reaction it causes. For example, if your dog begins to bark excessively at passers-by, simply shut the curtains or place them in a different room. Likewise, if your furry friend barks at neighbors/birds in the garden then take him/her back inside.
By removing their motivations they genuinely have no reason to do it, it’s worth mentioning that every method on this list requires patience and persistence. It needs to happen every time they bark excessively, otherwise they’re not truly learning.
Method 2: Be Commanding
Your dog needs to respect you, to do this you can respond to their barking with a confident and firm “quiet”. As soon as they have stopped barking you’ll want to praise them or give them some sort of a reward (a treat works best).
This is conditioning at its finest and will have amazing effects over time! He/she will begin to figure out that whenever he ceases barking, he's rewarding.
Method 3: Exercise
How often do you come back home from work with the kids bickering and you’re too tired to even talk? It’s exactly the same with dogs, if your doggo is bored and full of energy, they're more likely to bark excessively.
The best way to combat this is exercise, and plenty of it.
Method 4: Ignore
This one's pretty self-explanatory but it's effective too! Dogs are very similar to children. They are going to keep going until they get what they want, either through crying or barking.
But they quickly get fed up and stop. It’s really that simple, it just requires a lot more patience than the other methods (maybe even some headphones!)
Method 5 - Desensitization
This method requires getting your dog incrementally used to the stimuli that is causing them to bark.
The best way to do this is to start with the stimuli far away. For example if it is other dogs at the park then get a friend to stand 100 meters away and begin walking towards you.
Each time they get closer, encourage your dog not to bark through the use of treats. Eventually, the treats will far outweigh the stimuli and your dog will no longer begin barking.
Repeat this over and over until it becomes second nature not to bark.
Method 6 - Bark Collars
You’re probably aware of the mass amount of these types of collars that aim to minimize barking, yet their ethics can be questioned. They do work, it’s just whether or not it's fair on your furry friend.
They work very well short-term yet they don’t actually address the motivation behind barking. This means that they can make little difference over an extended period of time.
They can actually cause even further stress to your dog so it’s advisable to stay away from these sorts of tools, after all, how would you like it?
Method 7 - Last Resort
Call the professionals in! A professional dog trainer will have dealt with this issue hundreds, if not thousands of times, so it’s safe to say they are more than equipped to combat your dog's excessive barking.
These can be quite costly but if the barking is getting really excessive it’s definitely worth the investment!
That concludes our guide on how to stop your dog from barking, make sure to apply each method with calmness and you should be ready to wave goodbye to that pesky bark!