Although barking is how dogs communicate with each other and their owners, it can sometimes become a nuisance, especially when it happens frequently and becomes disruptive and bothersome to your neighbours.
In today’s article, we look at several effective training techniques that you can use to minimise your dog’s barking. But before we move on, we’d like to note that barking is completely natural for dogs, so you can’t expect your mate to stop doing it altogether. Occasional barking is well within normal. In fact, a too quiet dog can sometimes be a sign of disease or illness, and you obviously do not want for such to be the case.
Why does your dog bark?
Knowing the reasons your canine buddy barks can help you handle the problem a lot better. Dogs bark to protect their territory, to ask for a response from another animal, to greet you, or because they might be agitated.
Your pet can bark when you come back from work or to ask for attention. Anger, frustration, and fear are all emotions that can be expressed through this behaviour.
As such, our first piece of advice for you would be to know your dog as best as possible and understand their most common barking triggers.
How to Stop Your Dog from Barking Frequently
Dogs are quite easy to train, especially when compared to other species. Getting your pooch to stop this behaviour is actually simple in that all you have to do is to reward them when they stop and become quiet.
Use a specific command or a clicker to make an association between your dog being quiet and the reward they receive. The other way of handling the problem would be to teach your dog to bark on command first.
This can be very effective when taught from a young age as puppies are able to learn that they should only use barking when you tell them to do it and only in extreme situations -- not for everyday boredom or frustration.
If you know what triggers your dog’s barking and you also know that you can’t get rid of it (such as an individual who passes down the street with another dog every day, a biker, or a delivery person), you can definitely use desensitisation to your advantage.
It does call for a lot of patience on your part. You should take your dog away from the window (in the situation we’ve mentioned), sit down together and give them toys and treats. When your pooch barks, stop the treats and the attention you’re giving them.
Most dogs soon associate the rewards with them being quiet, and they understand that you do not want them to bark, however much they might want to.
Get rid of the offending object
Some dogs can bark at raccoons, squirrels, and other stimuli and while you might not be able to remove all of these from your dog’s environment, what you can do is keep your dog indoors with the curtains pulled so that they don’t bark a lot during the day.
If your pooch tends to bark because they are bothered by certain sounds, such as the ice cream truck going down the street, your task is a bit more difficult. You can use a white noise machine to get your dog distracted.
Dogs also tend to be slightly calmer when you use music to distract their attention. If you are lucky enough to work from home, just listen to some music (there’s even calming music for dogs on YouTube) while you do it.
Keep your dog entertained
The reason many dogs bark when they’re left indoors for many hours is that they get bored. Besides, many of them can develop separation anxiety if they have nothing to do, and have no other canine friend to spend their time with.
If your dog is a barker and you suspect that this behaviour happens because of loneliness or boredom, getting another pet might be the right way of going about things. If they don’t get along with other dogs, a cat might be a good choice.
Also, taking very long walks with your mate every day for at least one hour or more can keep them well-exercised and also tired by the time evening comes around. Play with your canine buddy for at least fifteen to thirty minutes every day -- apart from the two to three walks you should take together.
If your dog uses barking to get your attention, ignore them
Some people think that yelling or trying to calm down their dog with vocal commands as they bark is the correct way of handling the situation. Sometimes, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Some dogs bark to get their owners to take them out for a walk or fun or to play with them. If you know your pooch and you know that they’re trying to use barking as a means of convincing you to do what they want, you can try ignoring them.
As soon as your pet becomes quiet again, give them a treat. In time, they will learn that being quiet makes you not just give them a reward but also a pat on the head or some attention.
When all else fails, call a professional
Seeking help from certified professional dog trainers can also be an option. And while their services might cost, they will teach your dog to be quiet without using punishment or some other harsh means that you definitely do not want to be applied on your pooch.
They have the experience of working with hundreds of animals before your dog, so reaching out to a dog trainer can solve the problem and save you a lot of frustration, too.