There are a variety of motives behind a dog bark. This article covers barking... and how to get it to stop.
Please keep in mind that changing a bad habit is a process that can sometimes take days or weeks to achieve. Even once that happens, be sure to regularly encourage normal, calm behavior with love and praise.
1) Why Are You Barking In The First Place?
A dog's bark serves a couple purposes: scaring off potential intruders while simultaneously calling in reinforcements.
If your dog sees, smells or hears something outside that he/she deems bark-worthy, try going over to the window to take a look. Once you do, look at your dog and in a calm voice say, "it's cool. Not a big deal". Then return to your seat and call your dog over to you. Once he/she comes, be sure to say "good dog" and offer a happy butt scratch.
You'll be surprised by how effective this actually is. Overtime, your dog will learn that whatever was causing him/her to bark is, in fact, not a big deal.
2) Release Pent Up Energy
Dogs who get regular daily exercise along with playful interaction will tend to bark much less than dogs who are cooped up, bored and frustrated.
Like most dog lovers, when leaving the house on the average workday, we might try to remedy those sad eyes by turning on Animal Planet. Unfortunately, our attempt to satisfy our own guilt it will not fulfill a healthy dog’s need for real stimulation. And thus, the slightest outside noise will induce an hour of non-stop barking.
The essential foundation for a well-balanced dog is a strict adherence to a 30 minute walk twice a day, with an additional 15 minute walk in the afternoon or at night. An enormous benefit to having a dog in the first place is the requirement for us humans to get out for regular walks as well!
Regular, fast-paced walks combined with the right interactive dog toys should help keep your dog’s mind occupied once you leave for the day.
3) A Quieter Alternative
Teach your dog to react differently to what usually sets him/her off. For example, the most common trigger for an all-out barking explosion is a simple knock on the door.
Here are a few steps that will help teach your dog a quieter way to deal with the “intruder”. This popular method requires two partners (and at least one dog). It is also most effective on dogs who already know how to “sit”, “lay down” and “stay”:
- Inside the house, place a mat around 10 feet away from the door. Over a period of a few days, toss an occasional treat on the mat and say in a firm voice, “GO TO BED”. When your dog eats the treat, have him/her “sit”, “lay down” and “stay”.
Then walk over to the door and open it. Even though no one is there, it will give your dog some idea of what to expect. Follow up the good behavior with another treat and a bunch of love. Do this at least 3-5 times a day.
- Once those few days have passed, give your partner a few treats to hang onto before knocking on your door from the outside.
- Meanwhile, when your dog begins to bark at the knocking door, you’ll need to hold a treat directly to his/her nose. Then, toss the treat onto the mat and tell him/her to "GO TO BED". Before opening the door, you may be required to walk over to the mat with the treat and repeat the command.
- Once your dog reliably goes to the mat to earn the treat, make him/her “sit”, “lay down” and “stay”. If he/she tries to get up before you open the door, repeat the “lay down” and “stay” commands.
- Now it’s time to up the ante by opening the door. If your dog gets up, close the door immediately and repeat the commands until he/she stays on the mat while the door opens.
- Upon entering the house, your partner should carry the treats over to the mat and say “GO TO BED”, followed by “sit” and “lay down”. Once your dog complies, your partner should give up the treat.
Repeat these steps as many times as it takes. You might need to buy your partner a couple beers later on.
What Not To Do
- Don't shout at your dog to stop barking. (Your dog will just think you’re joining in).
- Don't make your training sessions aggressive, harsh or stressful. That will only add to your dog’s pent-up energy.
- Don't give up after just a few weak attempts. Dogs have schedules too. Unless you're going to do it right until it works, why bother wasting your dog's time?