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How to Stop Your Dog's Incessant Barking

Updated on June 16, 2011

Help...My Dog Is Barking Me Crazy!

Is your dog's incessant barking driving you or your neighbors crazy? The key to fixing this problem is to first understand why you dog is barking.

Most of the time when your dog continually barks when you are away from home, it is due to separation anxiety. This can be a very difficult problem to solve, and this lens gives you some techniques to use to stop your dog from nuisance barking.

If your dog incessantly barks when you are at home, you actually have a training advantage. If your dog only constantly barks when you are away, you would not be able to correct this behavior in real time. This lens also lists 4 ways to handle your dog's nuisance barking when you are at home.

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Understanding Your Dog's Motive to Bark

When humans started domesticating dogs more than 10,000 years ago, we saw the promise of a very loyal and particularly vocal companion. Selective breeding was employed to induce barking in domestic dogs from wild wolves. Wolves don't bark, so in terms of evolution, you can say that dogs bark because we want them to. Vocal dogs were valued and thus their genes were preferred. Consequently, certain breeds of dogs, such as those traditionally selected as guard dogs, are notoriously heavy barkers. It is important to always consider the breed proactively when adopting a new dog to possibly avoid barking related issues.

When your dog appears to be barking for no reason at all, you can expect that they're barking for a reason, even if they're only barking for you to come home. Incessant barking that begins after you have left for 20 minutes or so and continues relentlessly may well be a symptom of separation anxiety, which is a psychological condition that requires some further attention and training.

The first thing to do is to rule out the obvious. If they begin barking towards the end of the day, it could be that they are hungry. If they bark after being left contained for a few hours, it could be that they need some exercise, or potentially need to relieve themselves. Most experts in dog psychology maintain that dogs are social, pack-oriented animals, and since you (and your family) are now in the dog's pack, you can expect that your dog will be vocal if they are left alone for long periods of time.

After ruling out the obvious, and have given your dog sufficient exercise and attention, you can begin to home in on training your dog that continues to bark. It is important to identify the cause(s). Barking is caused by either an external or internal stimulus. A dog that barks to get attention stems from an internal distress. If your dog barks at a person walking by, or another dog, or a car, then your dog is trying to alert you.

You can concentrate on training your dog to deal with internal stimulus. You can ignore an attention-seeking bark until your dog calms down, and then reward them for their ability to quiet down. If your dog is barking from external stimulus, you can usually control this by using common sense. One example, is if your dogs barks whenever the doorbell rings, then it is best to disconnect the doorbell, and replace it with a door knocker.

Finally if your dog barks "at you" right after you've given them a command, then your dog is talking back to you. This scenario means that you will need to do some dominance training with your dog.

4 Ways to Control Your Dog's Incessant Barking When You Are at Home

If you have a dog that incessantly barks both when you are home and away, then dealing with the problem while you are at home may also help prevent it when you are away. The key to correcting this barking is to have the right timing for reprimanding and praising. Below are four techniques you can use to curb your dog's nuisance barking.

This first technique is the most effective out of the four:

1. Using physical correction. This method is most certainly NOT at all violent, painful, or inhumane. When your dog barks, go to their level, and firmly wrap one or both of your hands around the snout (don't shake it), and say your corrective command. You can use a long "Shhh" or repeat "Uh uh uh." You not only want to hold onto them until they quit making any noise, but also when they stop resisting the placement of your hand by trying to get away. This method is so effective, since it demonstrates to your dog that you are the Alpha in the pack.

Since it involves physical correction, it may not be a preferred technique for owners who are uncomfortable with this type of interaction. It is important to stress that dogs are not children and they feel happier when they clearly know who the "Alpha dog" is. Here are some other techniques you can utilize if you choose not to physically correct:

2. Having extreme patience. If your dog is barking because they crave attention, then this method is best for them. However, the owner will need to be very patient and consistent if they choose to use this method. If your dog has an extremely loud bark, then having a set of earplugs can be very helpful. When your dog is barking at you for attention, it is important not to give in to them -- not until the barking finishes. The best thing to do is to sit down and avoid eye contact and definitely avoid talking (or shouting) to them. Once your dog stops barking, immediately reward them with lots of praise and attention.

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3. Using a squirt gun. This method is effective if you don't mind carrying a squirt gun on you at all times at home. This is because you need to reprimand the behavior as it is happening, so if your dog incessantly barks and you go to get your squirt gun, they could have finished barking by the time you end up squirting them. You need to reprimand in real time, and it does help to have accurate aim. When squirting your dog, aim for their chest and not their face. Also, using a mixture of water and Citronella essential oil or a vinegar solution (1 part vinegar to 8 parts water) can be much more effective than just plain water.

4. Putting them on a leash. This method is most effective for dogs that have been trained to respond to a tug on the lead and a corrective "uh uh" or "no." So, when your dog begins to nuisance bark, then put their leash on, and go through the training command your dog is familiar with to stop the current behavior.

Whichever method you use, remember to be consistent, since only repetition will effectively train your dog. Most importantly never yell. It is essentially barking back at them, and just makes more noise. It is all to easy to tell your dog to be quiet through an open window, but your dog is barking because they are trying to tell you something. It may just be that they want some more attention, so by yelling at them it will upset and confuse them even more. It is vital to give your dog praise when they stop barking.

There are times that you should not command your dog to stop barking as soon as they start. Some dogs bark to alert you of a person on your property, and this can be dangerous if they have been taught to suppress their bark at all times. It is unrealistic to have your dog never bark again, so just keep that in mind when you are training your dog.

Techniques to Stop Your Dog's Incessant Barking When You Are Away From Home

Most of the time when your dog continually barks when you are away from home, it is due to separation anxiety. This can be a very difficult problem to solve, but this article gives you some techniques you can use to stop your dog from being a barking nuisance. This situation is very stressful for the dog, you and your neighbors. If you know that your dog barks all the time when you are gone, be sure to talk to your neighbors to let them know you are working on the problem. If you don't know whether your dog barks when you are away, it is best to ask your neighbors if they hear your dog incessantly barking.

One technique you can try is to pretend to leave the house. Set out of the house earlier than you need to and wait some place next to your house where your dog can't see or hear you (thinking you have gone), but where you can hear them. As soon as your dog begins with the incessant barking, reappear and use the "quiet" command. This technique is more effective if you have previously trained your dog with the "quiet" command.

If your dog is barking out of loneliness, then try to come home more often. If you can not get away from work during the day, then try to get a friend to visit, preferably someone with a friendly and energetic dog. If you don't have any friends that can help out, then look into hiring a dog walker. Your dog most likely will appreciate getting the attention and interacting with other dogs.

If you can afford it, the best option is to take your dog to doggy day care. This can be a professional service offered in your community, or perhaps an individual that is a dog sitter. It could be that your dog is just simply not getting enough attention during the day, and no amount of training will make them stop barking about it.

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