How Can I Stop my Dog from Barking So Much? Top 5 Tips and Tricks to Stop your Dog's Barking
[Written by Star LaBranche]
Does your dog have a barking problem? There are a lot of reasons why dogs bark. These can include their breed, as some dog breeds are more talkative than others, boredom, fear, or even separation anxiety. Figuring out why your dog is barking excessively is the first step to figuring out how to stop it. Dogs who bark excessively because they are protective, will need to be cared for differently than dogs who are attention seeking.
Let’s take a look at some of the common ways people curb the excessive barking behavior and make their time with their dogs enjoyable and fun. It’s important to remember that these tips are for excessive barking. All dogs will bark and give you a piece of their mind from time to time. These tips are to specifically address when the barking doesn’t stop and becomes a problem.
Additionally, none of these tips are intended to be magic. It will take time and consistency to help stop excessive barking. There is no easy solution. You will need to work with your dog through training and with help from your vet to get to the root of the problem.
1. What Doesn’t Help to Stop Excessive Barking
If you are doing any of the following behaviors yourself, you can stop right away because they aren’t helping. First, don’t shout at your dog when they are barking. Your dog is more likely to think you’re trying to join in the fun and it will encourage them to continue. This happens especially when the dog is barking for attention or separation anxiety.
Also, dogs learn behaviors just like children do. If your dog has been barking excessively for a long time, they are more likely to continue because they have learned that this behavior is acceptable (even though it isn’t). Don’t wait too long before you start dealing with this behavior. The more they bark, the harder it will be to break this habit.
Before you start with training or behavior modification, be sure you take your dog to the vet, just to make sure there isn’t something physically wrong with your pet. With one of their only avenues of communication being barking, they might be trying to tell you they are injured or in pain. While at your vet, you can also talk to them about how to help with the behavior, provided it’s not because of a physical problem.
2. Limit What Is Stimulating Your Dog
If your dog is a territorial or fearful dog who barks whenever a leaf blows, it might be time to invest in a good pair of blinds to block out all of the excess stimulation they might be experiencing. Whether they are barking at shadows or a dog next door, this “out of sight, out of mind” method could help deal with the problem.
Even, and especially, if your dog is primarily an outdoor dog, bringing them inside at night could help with excessive barking. Part of their stress could be that they know their people are inside and they are stuck outside without the ability to look after them.
3. A Tired Dog is a Good Dog
Dogs generally have lots of energy and sometimes more than their humans. A dog who is bursting to play, explore, and adventure is likely to bark excessively when kept inside for hours on end. To curb this behavior, make sure your dog gets lots of walks and exercise. While a five mile run might be out of the question for most owners, simple toys such as a tail teaser can provide hours of fun for your pooch while you can sit on the couch and relax.
Many breeds are considered working dogs and will need “jobs” inside the home. It can be as simple as earning treats through playing games with family members or picking up their toys. Working with a dog trainer can help you to teach them commands and tricks to help them feel that they have done their duty to their family (and burn off some of their impressive stores of energy).
This method is also good for fearful or anxious dogs who need distraction from whatever is causing them stress. Helping the dog focus on tasks and earning prizes could help them to be calmer and feel more secure.
4. Ignore Barking When It Happens, Don’t Reward It
As mentioned earlier, you should never shout at your dog when they are barking. But also consider that if they bark at an unfilled Kong and you refill it with peanut butter, they have just learned that barking will get them rewards. It’s the same for any other behavior. It might stop the barking temporarily, but it’s teaching the dog that barking will get results and pups like results.
When you ignore your barking dog, they might continue for a little while, but they should soon realize their attempt at gaining your attention is not working. Remember to reward good behavior, when your dog is quiet and acting appropriately. This will show them that they will get attention and pets by displaying good behavior, instead of acting out.
5. Be Open to Adjusting Your Home Life as Needed
If your dog is so unhappy all they can do is bark repeatedly to express their feelings, it might be time to rethink how things work in the home. Remember, you and your loved ones generally come and go as you please and have social interactions as you go about your day. Your dog is inside your house or in your backyard while you are gone and doesn’t get to experience what you do.
Consider adding a dog walker to help your pooch get a break from their four walls and spend some time with a friendly face. You could also do your best to make more time for your dog throughout your day. If you have some down time, you can take your dog to a dog-friendly park, play a fun game with them in the backyard, or even take a training course with them. Investing in your relationship with your pup is always a great idea that can equal great rewards.