Don’t you just hate excessive barking? If your dog works himself into a barking frenzy every time the phone rings, or somebody walks by on the street, or a car goes by, you have a dog behavior problem. How can you stop a barking dog?
Why Dogs Bark
Barking is a natural behavior for dogs. They bark to communicate with their pack members. But this natural behavior can get out of control very quickly and become nuisance barking before you know it.
A dog left by himself all day will bark because he wants you to come home. And guess what, eventually you do. This teaches him that loud barking will eventually bring you back.
The dog may bark at the mail carrier every day. This annoying habit makes sense when you realize that the dog is defending his territory from an intruder. Of course, the mail carrier doesn’t hang around, but in your dog’s mind, he’s chased him off. So the barking problems are reinforced.
You may also be accidentally training your dog to bark. Do you respond to your dog every time he barks? He barks, and you let him out. He barks at the door, and you let him in. He barks, and you feed him. He barks, and you pet him. Before you know it, you’ve fallen into the trap of giving him attention every time he barks, instead of praising him when he doesn’t bark.
Excessive Barking Can Be Stopped
The first step is to be sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise and attention. Most barking problems result when a dog is lonely, bored, and frustrated. Dogs are social animals, and they need lots of interaction with people and other dogs.
Your dog may not realize that nuisance barking is just that–a nuisance. Sometimes he’s encouraged to bark if there’s a stranger around. Other times he’s told to stop. It’s up to you to teach your dog that it’s OK to bark until you say “stop barking.” Then he’s to stop immediately.
How to do this? By using a reward system. When you dog barks, say “stop barking” after he barks a couple of times. At the same time, dangle a favorite tasty treat in front of him. He can’t bark and sniff the treat at the same time, so he’ll be quiet. After he’s quiet for a few seconds, give him the treat. Repeat this, extending the length of time he’s to be quiet. In a single training session, you should be able to get him to be quiet for one to two minutes.
If he even makes a little bark after you tell him “stop barking,” scold him immediately. Don’t wait, or he won’t know what you’re scolding him for. If he continues to bark, even quietly, pull out the big guns.
At the top of your lungs, yell “STOP BARKING!” More than likely, your dog will stare at you in shock. If this only makes your dog more excited, keep a water gun handy and squirt him in the face. You want to get his attention and get him to stop barking long enough that you can reward him for being quiet.