It’s never fun when your canine companion barks every time someone walks past your house; they hear a noise coming from outside, when they see a dog while driving in the car with you or, worst of all, for no apparent reason.
First let’s acknowledge that some breeds are more likely to bark than others. It can be a persistent and challenging problem to correct. So what’s an owner to do when the dog won’t stop barking?
- Be a detective.
Try to figure out why your dog is barking? Rule out any physical causes by having him examined by your veterinarian. What may seem like barking for no reason to you could actually be a learned method of controlling you. Discontinue reinforcement. Also called “attention-seeking barking,” request barking is a common problem for dog owners. The first step to breaking a dog’s request barking is to stop giving your dog what she wants whenever she barks. This will, of course, take some time to train out of your dog, especially if she has been “rewarded” for her barking over many years.
- Know your dog’s triggers.
Try to distinguish between barking that stems from needing to use the bathroom (which is a valid need to vocalize) and barking over every minor desire, such as wanting to come on the couch or be given more attention.
- Stand your ground.
Do not give in to your dog’s barking, no matter how much she barks. Any concession to a dog’s barking will undo whatever progress you may have been making.
- Be consistent with your corrections.
Whether you tell your dog to stop barking with a look, a noise, an e-collar, or a yank on the leash, stay on alert. Your dog may stop barking for just a moment, but then go right back to it. Stay close by so you can administer another correction if the barking starts again. Wait until your dog’s attention has shifted fully from whatever it was barking at and on to you before you go back to what you were doing.
- Give your dog a mental and physical challenge.
Barking can sometimes be the result of lots of pent up energy. If that’s why your dog is barking, you’ve got an easy fix. Take your dog for a daily walk, drop them at your local doggy daycare, or hire a neighbor to take them on a play date in the park. You could take up obstacle challenges, obedience training, or agility courses to give both of you a new way to bond, and to replace barking with something much more fun.
- Stay calm.
Incessant barking is irritating, but if you get riled up too, you won’t be able to effectively stop the behavior. Dogs mirror the energy of those around them, so if you are anxious and frustrated, he’ll feel that way, too. Dogs respond to strong, alpha energy. So stay calm, assertive, and be firm with what you’re asking your dog to do.
- Get professional help
If you’ve tried the above, and it’s not working, or you don’t have the time to train the bark out of your dog, you may need an extra set of hands. You can find a trainer almost anywhere who will be glad to make sure your dog is no bark (and no bite!).