How to Stop Your Dog from Barking
If your canine companion is easily excitable and often vocal, you may want to know how to stop your dog from barking. Barking can be fun and playful when your pup is outside running around or playing with you. Depending on the situation, though, it can quickly become loud and distracting. As frustrating as it may be when he doesn't stop right away, it's important to understand that barking is a form of communication and can be a natural canine behavior.
Understanding Why Your Dog Barks
Dogs bark — even when there's no one to hear them — to relieve pent-up emotions. Barking can also be part of a pup's conversational repertoire.
There are many reasons dogs bark. Learning to better understand your buddy's verbal cues and vocalization habits can help improve your communication and further your bond. Your pup may want your attention or want to make you aware of a perceived threat. He'll learn how to communicate with you in ways that are more appropriate to the situation, and you'll know how to respond when he does bark. Understanding what is normal for him and what is excessive helps you know where to focus training.
Training Tips for Types of Barks
There's no one-size-fits-all training course for barking. How you respond depends on the situation and what Fido is trying to tell you. Remember: The more practice your pup gets barking, the harder it will be to stop him. Here are a few of the most common causes of barking and ways to guide your pup's response.
Territorial or defensive barking
This kind of barking is functional: Your protective buddy wants to ward off a perceived threat, such as a strange person or another animal. He's protecting his territory, which may be his home, yard, or even your car — and you! When he barks and the threat disappears, he associates the barking with security. Of course, this type of barking can be upsetting and disruptive to neighbors or people nearby.
If he barks when people pass your window, try obscuring his view or blocking access to the window. Also, a dog who barks at your doorbell can be a little startling for you and for visitors. To desensitize your pup to the sound, play a recording of your doorbell throughout the day and increase the volume over time. He will learn that this sound doesn't always mean a stranger is coming into your home. Barking at the doorbell should decrease as he gets used to the sound.
If he barks at visitors entering your home, keep him in another room with a favorite toy or treat. Then, if everyone is comfortable, slowly introduce him to your guests. This can help prevent territorial barking from turning into territorial aggression. Rather, it helps him form an association between houseguests and a treat or playtime.
If Fido barks defensively on walks, he's likely reacting out of fear or stress. Identify what's triggering his reaction: Is it other dogs or people? Once you know his triggers, you can work on redirecting his attention and reconditioning his response. One way to do this is to move in the opposite direction from the dog or human and reward your dog when he stops barking and focuses on you. Keep an eye out for potential dogs or humans that may cause him to bark, and immediately focus his attention on you. In this way, you'll reassure him that both of you are secure while helping him learn appropriate behaviors.
Barking can be an emotional release if puppers isn't getting enough stimulation.
Try taking your pooch out for walks twice a day or adding another session of playtime to his routine. If he likes other doggos, make sure he has social opportunities every day. Talk to your vet about your pup's exercise needs according to his fitness and energy levels.
You can also set out a toy when you leave the house. Tie a rope to a post so Fido has something to tug against, or leave him with food puzzles to keep occupied. Another trick is hiding food inside cardboard boxes around your home and yard for him to find. This recreates natural foraging behaviors that dogs love.
Don't underestimate how much a good training session — rewarded with a treat or a game — can tire out your furry friend. As a dog owner, you should spend a little time each day training your pal. A physically and mentally tired pup is a good pup. He'll likely settle down and no longer feel the urge to bark.
Your pooch can learn that barking is a neat way to get you to interact with him, even if it's only to ask him to stop. Direct eye contact with you is a sure sign of attention-seeking barking.
As difficult as it can be, the best way to deal with this kind of barking is to disengage. Make sure your dog knows that if he's being quiet and settled, you'll give him attention — petting, playing, or fun training sessions. If your pup barks, ignore him. Don't touch or talk to him; leave the room if necessary. Your pal will soon learn that barking isn't an effective way to get your attention.
Like with attention-seeking yaps, your pup can learn to bark at you when he wants to start up a game or go out for a walk. If you reach for a toy to distract him, you might actually be reinforcing the behavior.
There's a fine line between distracting and reinforcing. Plan an activity for your pooch before you expect he might bark, such as when you sit down for dinner. This can prevent the barking without inadvertently reinforcing it. If you're unsure what he's demanding, follow the same training plan for boredom barking.
These tips can help you learn how to stop your dog from barking so you can live a quieter and more peaceful life with your four-legged friend. Some final advice? Try not to get upset when your pup barks. With a little sleuthing, you can usually find the reason and put a stop to it.