Author: Allen Brown
Excessive and disturbing dog barking is an unfortunate fact many dog owners need to deal with. There are so many reasons why a dog barks, from emotional instability to excitement.
Sometimes your dog just wants to say hi to your neighbor across the street. Getting to the root of the problem will require peeling back the layers of your dog’s behavior to determine the cause. Most of the time, this is done with the help of a trainer.
If you don’t have the time to identify the problem at its core or would like to try some simple ways to curb the behavior, then you’re in the right place.
Remove or Overexpose Your Dog
For dogs that are triggered by external elements, the easiest way is to remove them or remove your dog from the situation. Examples of such stressors include strangers and other dogs walking by the house. How many of your fur parents have experienced a sudden and very loud bark when an innocent stranger passes by? We know we have.
If this is the case for you, it can be tough to remove the trigger, because you can’t forbid people from walking by your house. Instead, the best way would be to “remove” your dog or prevent contact with the stressor. You can do this by drawing the curtains during the day or keeping the windows closed because some dogs are set off by sounds.
If excessive barking is happening outside, take your dog away from the environment. A good example of this is for a dog that is triggered by other dogs. It can be due to aggression – poorly socialized dogs can exhibit this – or excitement because your dog is a dog’s dog and just wants to play with his kind. Remove your dog by turning and walking the other way.
The important thing is not to reward his behavior by giving in and letting him play with the other fur baby. If you reinforced the barking, your dog will eventually learn to do it when he wants something.
Then there is the opposite method of overexposure. Instead of limiting your dog’s contact with whatever triggers him, try to give him as many opportunities as possible to interact with it. In other words, acclimate your dog to the trigger. This will eventually take away the novelty and discourage barking. You can do this by putting your pooch in an environment where there is an overabundance of the stimulus.
If the stimulus is other dogs, take him to the dog park more or commence training where you reward your dog for not barking at other dogs when they come into view. To understand what works best for your dog, you can consider working with a professional trainer or behavioral specialist.
Ignore the Barking
If your dog barks for attention, then the best way is to ignore him. As a general rule, do not reward any behavior you do not condone. It is a battle of wills, but do not give in! Ignore your pooch for as long as it takes. Ignore the barking, the crying, the whining, and anything else your dog attempts to get your attention.
Some dogs may take it one step further and come to snuggle with you, headbutt you, or put their paws on you, but by all means, RESIST! When we say to ignore your dog, we mean completely. Do not pet him or give him any eye contact. You don’t need an acting Masterclass, just the determination to outplay your dog.
Remember that your perseverance will result in a better-behaved dog, which will hopefully lead to a quieter existence with your pet. Be patient! Do not give in even if it takes an hour. Dogs can be quite intelligent and cunning, and they have a ton of patience.
If it took him an hour last time to break you and you try it again the next time he barks, he will make sure to do it for longer just to get your attention. You will be teaching him that barking will get you to notice him no matter how long it takes.
You can also consider external methods of barking control such as a bark collar. You may not have the time in your busy schedule to try training methods, and this accessory can be a godsend. There are many types of good bark collars, but we never recommend shock collars.
Bark collars are a contentious subject and hotly debated in the dog community. Are they humane or are they cruel? The answer will vary from person to person, but it is our belief that the supersonic, vibrating, and even some spray collars are safe and ethical.
Shock collars may sometimes hurt your dog, and we want to avoid that at all costs. Supersonic and vibrating bark collars have setting adjustments to help you find the right level that works on your fur baby.
Supersonic collars emit a sound that is only audible by your dog. The sound isn’t painful and is bothersome at most, and will get him to stop vocalizing. Vibrating collars do the same thing, but instead of a sound it vibrates and sends a continuous pulse until your dog stops.
The spray collar functions like a spray bottle some cat owners like to use on their felines. When the collar senses barking, it will let out a small spray of liquid that is scented with a fragrance most dogs do not like, such as citronella. The spray is harmless, and sort of functions like the bitter sprays to combat excessive chewing, but the target is disturbing barking.
One thing we will say with spray collars is that some dogs may not mind the scent and taste of citronella. If that’s the case, the collar will have no use. Some other pets can eventually get used to the spray, which also renders the device inoperative. This fact is also true for supersonic and vibrating bark collars, but the chances are lower.
If you opt for the vibration or supersonic collars, we suggest looking for ones that have various levels because your dog can also get used to the first setting. You need to have the flexibility to increase the dosage just in case they build resistance.
Dogs bark for many reasons. There is good barking, when a dog alerts you of potential dangers, or disturbing barking that is triggered by external factors such as strangers “invading” the dog’s territory. Whatever the reason is, the methods above are general solutions for a dog’s excessive barking.