Do your neighbors hate you because of your excessively barking dog? Are you being driven crazy because your pup thinks it is okay to alert you to every single sound, movement or imaginary object in the yard? Learning how to train a dog not to bark is an easy undertaking when approached with the proper attitude and commitment.
Listed below are a few methods that are effective for curbing this frustrating and annoying behavior.
Why Do Dogs Bark
Before you begin training your dog not to bark you should understand the reasons that cause excessive dog barking in the first place.
A common cause is boredom and lack of exercise. Dogs need an outlet for their pent up energy, and when they are not properly exercised, played with, or socialized, they will find ways to entertain themselves.
Just like humans, some dogs simply love the sound of their own voice. These bored pups may also use barking as a means to seek attention, whether negative or positive.
Other dogs bark because it is in their nature to do so. Certain breeds originated as watch dogs, so their instinct is to alert the household of potential dangers.
Other dogs bark out of fear or aggression. These dogs use their voice as a warning for the other dog, animal, or human to stay back and give space.
How to Train a Dog Not to Bark
Whatever the reason for the commotion, barking dogs should be trained to keep quiet, in order to maintain peace and order within the household, as well as the neighborhood.
There are numerous methods available to help you train your dog not to bark, and there is certainly a proper method for each type of owner and dog.
Method 1: Desensitization
For a dog who barks out of fear (typically common among dogs that have been under socialized), desensitization and socialization are crucial.
Common triggers are other dogs, humans, or scary objects, such as garbage cans. Gradually get your dog used to these triggers by first approaching them from a distance and providing your dog with lots of praise and treats.
As soon as your dog begins to bark, promptly turn around so that your dog is not able to see the object. Over time the combination of positive reward and exposure to the stimulus will help your dog come to understand that whatever he or she is afraid of is not harmful.
Method 2: Speak and Quiet Commands
Does your dog seem to bark for no reason at all, especially at night? This behavior is common among certain breeds, especially Siberian Huskies.
Learning how to get a dog to stop barking at night can be tricky, since there is no apparent stimulus. However, teaching the “speak” and “quiet” commands can greatly help with this endeavor.
First, teach your dog “speak.” During a barking fit, enthusiastically give the command and follow with positive praise and a treat. Continue until your dog will bark on command.
Next, teach your dog “quiet.” After a barking fit when your dog has stopped barking on its own, give profuse positive praise while saying the command “quiet.”
Eventually your dog will learn he has an on/off switch and you can use the “quiet” command whenever he or she is barking inappropriately.
Method 3: Understand the Motivation
Some dogs bark because they become overwhelmingly excited to see a certain stimulus. This is common among beagles when they see small animals they want to chase or playful pups when they encounter a potential playmate while out on a walk.
This behavior can be hard to correct because the dog is likely inadvertently rewarded if you continue to walk towards the rabbit/squirrel/other dog, etc. Keep a mental log to look for patterns that cause your dog to bark.
If your dog always barks at other dogs while on walks, turn around and find a new route so that your pup does not have the motivation to make noise.
If your dog barks at the mailman, close the blinds during the time of day the postman stops by. If ringing the doorbell excites your dog, place him or her in another room if you will be having company stop by.
Method 4: Ignore your Dog
Sometimes dogs simply bark because they want your attention. If this is the case, the best course of action is to completely ignore your dog.
While teaching dogs not to bark in this way can be especially frustrating for the first few days as your dog ramps up his or her barking in an attempt for attention, after a short while your pup will understand that this behavior yields no reward and he or she will have to seek out alternative methods to garner attention.
You can also preemptively keep your pet busy with a toy or treat-filled KONG before the barking begins, if you know that he or she commonly begins the commotion at certain times of the day.
Method 5: Counter Command
Does your dog initiate barking at predictable times or are you wondering how to stop a dog from barking at people?
A counter command can be especially helpful in this situation, which is where you ask your dog to complete an action that is incompatible with barking.
For instance, if you are on a walk and a person walks by that your pup would typically bark at, ask for your dog to lie down and stay instead. This method is especially useful with dogs that are highly food motivated.
If you have company coming over and your dog is likely to bark as they walk through the door, ask your dog to sit or to go into his or her crate instead with a peanut butter filled KONG.
Look for ways to counter your dog’s barking and always give a reward for good behavior. The counter command approach is especially useful for the owner who is and proclaims, “My dog barks at everything!”
When learning how to train a dog not to bark, you’ll have to determine which method works best for your dog. What’s effective for someone else’s dog may not be for yours. Patience, persistence and plenty of praise when your dog behaves correctly will quickly ensure a peaceful environment for you and your neighbors.