We would like our dog to stop barking when we want to. However, the reality is sometimes more complex.
We tend to think of barking as a behavioral problem. Nonetheless, it is completely natural for dogs.
It doesn’t change the fact that having a dog that barks non-stop is not a pleasant experience. Barking can scare your guests and especially a child. You may even be worried about receiving complaints from your neighbors!
Why Is My Dog Barking?
This is the first question to ask yourself to know how to modify the behavior of your canine companion. Indeed, he can bark for various reasons, but most of the time is to warn us.
Here are the main causes of dog barking :
- Attention seeking
- Alert Signal
- Separation Anxiety
The dog seeking your attention wants a reaction from you. In other words, he expects you to interact with him.
Any dog who barks out of frustration or boredom is due to a lack of stimulation. Your dog can find the time long and he needs to make up for his excess energy by barking.
All dogs have a job and yours is naturally to protect the house. For example, when someone approaches his territory, he wants to scare away the intruder, such as the postman or a passerby.
A barking dog can be as stressful to the people around him as it is to himself. This is why teaching your dog not to bark is beneficial for both you and him.
3 Important Points Before Training Your Dog
1. Be a Leader
Your dog needs a leader who has calm and positive energy, and who will guide and motivate him. A leader respects others and is committed to leading his team to success.
Some people will try to talk to their dog to stop barking, while others will give him treats. These ways of doing things only excite and encourage your dog to bark more.
By thinking that you have to dominate your dog or show him who is the “alpha”, you force him to obey and to be afraid of the consequence that follows. Using force or confrontational methods, such as yelling, creates an unpredictable dog. This results in an unbalanced, unconfident, and unhappy dog.
Training your dog with positive reinforcement is powerful. Your dog will know that by listening to you, the consequence will always be positive. This way of doing things makes your dog want to listen to you rather than avoid a negative consequence.
2. Have The Good Currency
Find the right currency for your dog by knowing what he likes the most. This is going to be your way of paying him in exchange for good behavior.
Is it a treat like beef liver or maybe cheese? Is it a particular toy?
This currency will allow you to reinforce good behavior. The more you have a treat or toy that he likes, the more he will be tempted to listen to you. Also, he will understand more quickly that not barking will have a positive consequence.
Prioritize quality over quantity. You don’t need to give him a big chunk, just a pea-sized treat will do.
3. Don’t Get Discouraged
By understanding that it’s hard for your dog to stop barking, it’s easier to be empathetic and patient with him.
Modifying your dog’s behavior in addition to knowing how to react well and understanding the exact moment to give the reward requires a lot of time, skill, precision, and experience.
This is why it is advantageous to call on a dog trainer to fix the problem quickly. However, you may be able to put elements in place to achieve excellent results.
How Do I Get My Dog to Stop Barking While I’m Away?
To stop your dog from barking while you’re away, block out the outside world and keep him busy with some music and an interactive toy.
The quickest way to fix the problem is to get your dog used to being in his crate when you’re away. He must have a positive association with his crate and it must be in a calm and safe place where he can’t get stimulated by the outside world. On the other hand, he should not spend more than 4 hours a day in his crate.
If you don’t use a crate, put him in a room where it’s hard for him to look outside or close the curtains so he doesn’t bark at the window. You can also put on a frosted sticker for the window at your dog’s height.
Nevertheless, you should never force your dog to enter his crate or a room so as not to create a negative association with them, otherwise, he will not be able to feel safe or relaxed there.
– Music For Dogs
To reduce outside noise, there is music designed specifically for dogs.
Several options are available to you, here are a few :
These are specific frequencies that will keep him calm, but they will also create small stimulations so that your dog doesn’t get too bored in your absence. This way, you limit the chances of the outside world stimulating your dog’s bark.
– Occupy His Mind
Give him an interactive bowl, a snuffle mat, or a treat-dispensing ball, like a Kong. You can also hide treats around the house for your dog to fetch.
If you’ll be away for more than 5 or 6 hours, it’s a good idea to let your dog out by asking people around you or hiring a dog walker.
Is My Dog Barking Because of Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety is a mental health disorder that can put your dog’s health and safety at risk. It is a complex disorder that is incredibly stressful for your dog.
This disorder can develop following stressful situations such as changes to your usual routine, moving out, a new baby, and even a new work schedule.
Signs of separation anxiety :
- Stressed out when preparing to leave the house
- Excessive howling or barking
- Gets hurt scratching the door or looking for an escape route
- Vomiting, hypersalivation, empties his anal glands
- Destroys door or window wills
- Urinate or defecate
- Paces around the house
- Excessive licking
If your dog exhibits one or more of these symptoms, it would be best to consult a behaviorist who will help you manage your dog’s anxiety.
Why Is My Dog Barking at People on the Street?
A dog barks at people in the street because he wants to signal the presence of a stranger near his territory. Since the majority walks away, the dog feels like it has done its job, which conditions him to start again at a similar event.
For example, someone approaches the house, the dog barks, the person continues on their way, and the dog stops barking.
In this situation, the dog says to himself :
“An intruder was coming towards the house, I barked, so the person left. Didn’t I do a good job?”
The action of the person who left acts as a reward. This means that every time your dog barks at a passing person, he thinks he’s won. This is what makes the behavior worse and why the problem persists.
How Do I Teach My Dog to Stop Barking at Passersby in the Street?
When you’re home, now way to deal with your dog’s barking at passersby is to redirect his attention to another activity.
One way to teach your dog to stop barking at people passing by is to teach your dog the recall command. Come when called helps redirect his attention back to you, reducing barking.
Call your dog back whenever he barks you see him want to bark and immediately reward him with his favorite treat or toy. By doing this, you condition him to come to you instead of barking.
If your dog doesn’t come when you call him or he doesn’t know the command, try to draw his attention to his favorite toy.
The goal is to limit barking as much as possible, but that doesn’t mean they’ll go away since it’s instinctive. It’s normal that the training isn’t going to be perfect and that you can’t redirect his attention every time he barks. Be patient, it’s part of the process.
It can take 1 or 2 months to fix the problematic behavior if you can redirect your dog’s attention every time he barks or want to.
How Can I Prevent My Dog From Barking?
To reduce your dog’s barking as quickly as possible, you need to prevent his yelps.
To prevent a dog from barking, watch his body language, as he warns you every time before barking. Here are some common examples you may observe :
- Eyes light up
- Facial Tension
- Pricked Ears
- He Seems Very Alert
- He’s More Excited
- Mouth Is Shut
Whenever you see your dog about to bark, redirect his attention before he even makes a sound. By preventing his barking, it is faster to teach your dog to stop barking at the window or in the yard.
So, recognizing your dog’s body language is beneficial and puts you in a better position to be able to intervene quickly.
How Do I Stop My Dog From Barking at Me?
A dog that barks at its owner seeks his attention. It is therefore important not to encourage barking from your dog.
To prevent your dog from barking at you, don’t talk to him, don’t look at him, and pretend he doesn’t exist. The moment he becomes calm and stops barking, reward him. This way, he will understand over time that he is not receiving any attention or treats when he barks at you.
The reward can be giving him affection, talking to him, and cuddling him, but you can also give him a treat. For this, you must already have it in hand.
If it takes too long before you reward him, it will take longer for your dog to make the right association so that he adopts the desired behavior.
Remember to ALWAYS reward good behavior. Whenever you see that he wants to bark, but decides not to, reward him. Even if he understands that he doesn’t have to bark, continue to reward him for keeping this good habit.
A Visit to the Vet
Dogs can also have episodes of excessive barking due to medical conditions.
They can bark because of pain such as arthritis, deafness, high blood pressure (hypertension), or even a tumor. If you have any doubts about your pet’s health, consult your veterinarian.
Bibliographic Sources :
HORWITZ, Debra, LANDSBERG, Gary. «Separation Anxiety in Dogs», VCA Animal Hospitals.
MADSON, Cathy. «Why Your Dog Is Barking and How to Stop It», Preventive Vet, 2020.