According to the NAVC’s recent Voice of the Veterinary Community study, helping animals on a daily basis is what veterinary professionals cite as their favorite part of their job (77%), followed by doing meaningful and purposeful work (65%). But on the flip side,...
It is completely natural for your dog to bark, and trust us, they all bark — at night, in the morning, to greet you, to greet others, out of excitement and anger and playfulness, and sometimes just because they feel like it.
To some degree, you will likely be working against your dog’s nature as you train them not to bark. Luckily, dogs are very intelligent. They have a high degree of desire to meet our needs, so there is a good chance that you can teach your dog when you don’t want them to bark.
Here’s what you need to know about how to get your dog to stop barking.
Why Does Your Dog Bark?
To train your dog not to bark, you first need to understand why they bark. Your dog may bark for a number of reasons, from a desire to protect your home to alerting you to intruders. Some dogs are barking because of a perceived prey animal. It seems that some dogs bark for the sheer joy of it.
Here are a few of the most common reasons that dogs bark:
- To get something they want. Your dog might bark at dinner time to let you know that it’s time to feed them. They might drop a toy in front of you and bark until you throw it. Dogs often use barking as a way to get what they want from the people and even the other animals in their lives.
- Scare away intruders. Dogs that have historically been bred to protect, such as Rottweilers and German Shepherds, may be especially likely to bark at people going by. These dogs are trying to communicate to potential intruders that they better not cross the barrier.
- As an expression of prey drive. Dogs that have been bred to hunt, like hound dogs and spaniels, often express themselves by howling or baying, especially when something excites them or if they see something that they perceive as being prey. Some dogs are also very likely to bay in response to the sound of other hound dogs baying, since they have historically hunted in packs.
- To alert you to something. Dogs bark to alert you to a number of things in their environment, from new people to new animals. Some highly sensitive dogs may even bark at a new piece of furniture or a fallen branch in the yard.
Why Do Dogs Bark Nonstop?
The above reasons can easily explain a bark now and then, but if your dog is barking all of the time, you may wonder if any of these explanations can really describe your dog’s behavior.
Dogs may learn to bark to amuse themselves or get attention, just as they may learn to do any number of repetitive behaviors.
Nonstop barking can be a very serious problem that may even be making you need to consider rehoming your dog or resort to training you never would have considered before, such as bark collars.
However, great training tips can teach your dog when barking is appropriate and when you need them to stay quiet
How to Reduce Problem Barking
Here are a few simple and easy ways to enact solutions for problems barking. These are great techniques to give a try no matter why your dog began chronic barking.
Too often, the reason your dog keeps barking is that they think that you are barking together. When your dog barks and you yell at them, your dog may think that you are joining in the barking.
Many dogs are very surprised if they are punished in some way after you have been yelling at them for barking. There is no reason for your dog to assume that your negative reaction is due to their behavior.
They may think that you are joining in for the same reason that they are barking. Whenever you are working with your dog to reduce problem barking, remain calm and consistent. Never give in to the urge to join in with the noise.
Be Positive and Upbeat
This training tip really goes along great with the first one. You want to be self-controlled and in charge of the training session at all times. You want this to be a positive experience for your dog. Never train when you are feeling overly frustrated or overwhelmed.
Training your dog not to bark can be extremely frustrating, though. Some owners find that they benefit from ways to reduce the noise like earplugs. It’s important that you can still hear your dog to some degree, but you don’t need to deal with the full volume for every training session.
Consistency is Key
Very often, one member of the family will take on training while other members of the family are less involved. This is not an effective strategy in dog training. Your dog needs to get a consistent experience from every member of the family if they are to learn that you don’t want them to chronically bark in any situation.
Talk to your family about how serious you are about reducing your dog’s problem barking and how important it is that you come to a resolution. Remind your family that the quicker you train your dog to stop barking, the sooner you can stop having to worry about the training process.
Consistency is essential to speed up training and get it over with so you can go back to enjoying your dog.
Find and Eliminate the Motivation
Your dog is barking for a reason. You want to determine what it is and eliminate it as much as possible. If your dog is barking at passersby or someone arriving at your home, consider removing your dog from the room as soon as they begin barking. By immediately removing access to the stimulus of barking, you can eliminate the potential reward that your dog is receiving from doing so.
Never leave your dog anywhere that they may be stimulated to bark without you being able to remove them from the situation. For instance, never leave your dog outside unattended when they can bark at passersby or neighbors, and no one there to correct the behavior.
Dogs that are repeatedly provoked by neighbors, even neighborhood children, may be more likely to not only bark, but experience more significant aggressive behavior down the road. Dogs that are consistently allowed to get away with their undesirable barking behavior will be much more likely to continue the behavior over time.
Ignore Ongoing Barking
When you have removed your dog from the source of the stimulus, they may continue barking. This barking might be directed at you to ask you to allow them back out of the door or back outside so that they can observe the stimulus again. It may also be an ongoing reaction.
Be sure that your dog can’t hear or smell the stimulus. Close windows and consider putting on a white noise maker to drown out any sounds that may trigger your dog. Then, you will need to undergo one of the more difficult aspects of training your dog not to bark: you will need to ignore your dog completely.
Any kind of reaction from you, positive or negative, may encourage the dog to think that they are having a positive effect. You want your dog to believe that their barking is having absolutely no effect on you so that they will stop doing it.
You may have to ignore your dog for a long time, especially at the beginning. However, eventually, your dog will get tired of barking. As soon as your dog stops barking, give them positive reinforcement, through praise or a treat (or both!).
As your dog gets the hang of it, increase the periods of time that they have to be quiet before they get their reward. In time, your dog will come to understand that you want them to bark once or twice to alert you and then go quiet on command.
At this point, you will have come close to eliminating the problem behavior in your dog. Most dogs experience some degree of setbacks over time, so be prepared to re-train when needed.
Rule Out Medical Causes
If your dog’s problem barking doesn’t go away with consistent training, it is important that you rule out medical causes that could be responsible for the behavior. Sometimes there are related causes that you may not have thought about, so it’s important to talk to a licensed veterinarian for guidance. For instance, allergies can cause behavioral changes in dogs, so if your dog has been itchy or showing other signs of allergies in addition to chronic barking, the conditions could be related.
A service like Airvet comes in handy here as you can connect to a veterinarian remotely for help with just a few taps, 24/7, and you won’t be paying veterinary-office prices to get some quick guidance.
Barking can be tough to deal with, especially as a first time dog owner, but don’t give up on your pup! With some consistent training, and even a little extra help from a veterinarian or behaviorist, you can help your dog understand when it’s okay to bark and when it’s time to lie down and relax. Good luck!
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