How to Quiet a Barking Dog
Don’t tell ME not to bark!
Take A Behavioral Approach To Dog Training
What Causes the Barking?
Dealing with a barking dog can be challenging and frustrating. It is often very difficult to know what to do when you have a dog who just seems to like to bark to hear it’s own voice. The fact is, that this is probably not the case. Behavior doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There is always a reason for it, even if it isn’t a very good reason.
When Does He Bark?
To figure out how to get your dog to stop barking, first look at the situations in which he barks. For example, does he bark whenever you are on the phone? What do you do about it? Do you pet him or give him a treat to get him to be quiet? If so, you are doing an excellent job of teaching him to bark while you are on the phone!
Does he bark when you are watching TV in your favorite chair? What do you do about it? Do you let him get into the chair? Again, if this is your response, then you are teaching your dog to ask for what he wants by barking.
What Should You Do?
A way to deal with these two situations is to anticipate the problem. Get your dog occupied and situated before you get on the phone. Set him up with his own bed, give him a treat or chew toy and tell him to stay before you start your phone call. If he interrupts during your call, use an airline kennel as a “time-out”. Tell him “Hush!” and quietly walk him to his crate, usher him in, and close the door. Don’t do this in a punitive way. Being crated should never be a punishment. It is just an effective, nonviolent way of managing your dog’s behavior.
In the case of barking to be in your chair with you, it depends on what you want. If you don’t mind having him in the chair, invite him before he has to ask. In that way, you are taking control of the situation and showing the dog that the decision for him to get into the chair is yours, not his.
If you don’t want him in your chair, again, set him up in advance on his own bed with a treat or chew toy. If he persists in wanting to get into your chair with you, follow the procedure outlined above. Tell him “Hush!” and quietly walk him to his crate, usher him in, and close the door.
How Should You Respond?
While there are a number of aversive methods for dealing with barking, such as no-bark collars, and various sprays you can use to deter your dog from barking. I believe that these are unnecessary and not very effective. They provide the dog with attention - even if it is negative attention - and that can make the problem worse, not better.
Why Is He Barking?
By understanding why your dog barks, what he is trying to accomplish, and what you can do to meet his needs or ignore his demands appropriately, you should be able to limit your dog’s barking to appropriate barking. This is the barking that alerts you of something unusual or lets you know that your dog genuinely needs your attention.
Always keep the possibility in mind that your dog may be barking for a perfectly good reason. If your dog barks up a storm every time you put him out at night to do his business at bedtime, check your yard and see if he has a reason to bark. There could be people in the street, a stray cat, or as was the case in my yard, a great big possum in a tree! If this is the case, thank your dog for letting you know! That’s what you have him for, after all! Then bring him inside so he won’t disturb people. Never punish a dog for appropriate barking.
Don’t blame your dog if he barks out of boredom. If you leave your dog chained outside for a long time (never a good idea) or even have him in a yard or in the house alone with nothing to occupy him, he will be likely to bark. Always be sure your dog has toys to play with and chew and free access to clean water and dry food. In this way, you will eliminate several valid reasons for barking - boredom, hunger, and thirst.
Where Does Your Dog Feel Most Secure?
The exception to this is, if you leave him in an airline kennel while you are at work or sleeping. In this case, be sure he has had enough to eat and drink and had the opportunity to toilet beforehand, then crate him with a favorite chew toy and perhaps a treat. You don’t want to leave food and water in the crate. It will just make a mess. Never leave your dog crated for more than eight hours. Be sure to toilet him and offer food and water as soon as you return and uncrate him. If your dog barks while he is crated, you may want to try keeping soft lights in the room where the crate is situated and playing quiet music or having the radio on to keep him company. Most dogs learn to manage crating quite well when they are properly crate trained. Crate training is an excellent tool for managing your dog’s behavior.