How to Stop Your Dog Barking Habit
A dog vocalizes by barking. However, it can become a behavioral issue if the dog barking is overly excessive or uncontrolled. With the proper approaches and techniques or addressing the cause, you can train your dog for better behaviors. Let’s look into four approaches to address the issue here.
1. Stopping Your Dog from Developing the Dog Barking Habit
Don’t respond to the barking with shouting. Training a puppy to stop barking is easier than breaking its barking habit when it has grown into a dog. One key factor is not rewarding or reinforcing the dog barking from the on-set. When your dog starts barking and you shout at it to keep quiet, you’re actually rewarding its barking with attention as your dog will think that your shouting is your barking in response. By thinking of this as approval, your dog is very likely to repeat the behavior.
Ignore the barking. Instead of shouting at your dog to keep quiet, try first to ignore the dog barking. If your dog doesn’t tie its barking with attention and your responses, then it’s less likely to repeat the behavior.
Distract your dog from barking. If ignoring the dog barking doesn’t work after a while, try distracting it from the behavior. For instance, deliberately dropping something on the floor, opening a door, or doing something usually attracts attention. It will cause it to stop barking to check out what’s going on.
Refocus your dog on a thing you can quickly reinforce. When it has been distracted from its barking and comes to you, command it to sit or stay. And immediately reward the positive behavior, which will reinforce the positive behavior instead of barking. It shows your dog needs some basic training too. Using some familiar basic commands to distract your dog is a great way to avoid unintentional reinforcement of its barking. Dog clicker training is another excellent method to reinforce good behaviors positively.
Lead your dog inside your compound if the barking occurs outside. Lead your dog inside the house if it barks at passersby; repeat it next time when it does it again. Doing this in the middle of its barking teaches it that barking means no more having fun outside the compound.
- Give your dog lots of exercises. Dog barking is a form of emotional expression, especially when it’s boring. Giving lots of exercise to your dog will help stop it from developing the dog barking habit when it’s boring. Have at least two 15-minute outing sessions with your dog every day for exercise to play ‘run and fetch.’ The session will be increased to up to an hour each day for larger and more energetic dogs. If your dog still barks due to boredom even though it’s out twice a day to dispense some energy, try increasing the time you spend out for each exercise session with your dog.
2. Finding and Addressing the Cause
- Find out why your dog barking is persistent. It is the first step to find out what is causing it to bark. You might have to make some assumptions, especially if your dog often barks when you aren’t home. To help you better understand its dog barking behavior. Ask your neighbors if they notice your dog’s barking pattern. Assure your neighbors that you’re aware your dog has a barking issue and is working to address it, which will also help them see you as a solution rather than part of the issue. If you have a CCTV pointing towards your compound, replay it to discover potential visual and aural triggers that cause the dog barking issue. Replay and review the recordings for several days, so you’ll be able to get a better understanding of its dog barking behavior.
- Determine the cause of your dog barking. After obtaining evidence, start looking for triggers and patterns. Common triggers may include: Attracting your attention to a need. Your dog may be looking to get your attention due to an urgent need, like thirst, hunger, or even to use the toilet; Boredom, or anger. A dog may feel bored or angry if it’s restricted in a particular area or has no outlets to dispense its excess energy. Barking may also be a way for your dog to release tension and anxiety; Frighten. If an object, people, or noise frightens your dog, it’ll react by barking. You can see from your dog’s reaction whether it’s due to fear. That’s when its ears are pulled back and its tail lowered; Asserting territorial. If a dog feels a person or other animal is intruding on its territory, it’ll bark to claim that territory. You can often see when a dog’s barking is territorial because its ears will be pulled in front and its tail held up high; Feeling excited. Dogs will bark when they’re excited to see their owners, and it has health concerns. If a dog has some health concerns like an ache, hard of hearing, pain, or psychological distress, it may bark to show something wrong.
- Take your dog to see a vet. If you feel that your dog may be barking due to a health concern, bring it to see a vet. Remember that older dogs may bark due to dementia. Nevertheless, your vet can prescribe you medication to help your dog cope with the disease.
3. Controlling the Dog Barking
- Get rid of the incentive. As soon as you’ve ascertained the causes of your dog’s barking, work on eliminating the incentive. Your dog barks as it feels like receiving a reward for that behavior. If you remove that causal factor, your dog will lose the motivation to bark. For instance, if it barks at passersby while inside the house, draw the curtains or blinds to block the view. Suppose it barks at passersby while in the compound, lead your dog inside the house to stop the barking.
- Ignore your dog barking. When starting to re-train your dog, you have to first not respond to its barking. Dogs interpret your shouting at them or telling them to stop as giving them attention, which reinforces the behavior, irrespective of the tone of your shouting. When your dog barks, don’t give it attention by looking at it, talking to it, petting it, and certainly not giving it any treats. Remember that your dog’s barking may get worse before it gets better if you need to get rid of its habit. When your dog has been used to you responding to its barking, and suddenly you didn’t respond, then the dog will feel the need to ramp up the barking to get your attention. Avoid responding to its barking in any way. You may want to let your neighbors know that you are attempting to curb the issue of your dog’s barking and apologize for the annoyance it’s causing. If they know you are trying to correct your dog’s behavior, hopefully, they will be more receptive to the situation and will bear with it for the time being.
- Reward subtly. Once the dog barking stops, wait a minute or two to see that it isn’t confusing, and then subtly reward the quietness with a treat. If you do this every time your dog barks, then it’ll begin to learn that barking doesn’t bring in a reward, but quietness does. Your dog will start to tie being quiet with receiving a treat. As that happens, start to prolong the time your dog must remain quiet before receiving a reward. If you are doing dog clicker training with your dog, remember to mark the quietness with a click before rewarding it.
- Divert your dog’s attention. When your dog starts to bark, divert it by doing something else to distract it from the causal factor. Getting your dog to “stay” is an excellent way to shift, as it won’t think as a reward for barking, of sorts. When your dog stays quietly, reward it with a treat, but only after it’s quiet down.
- Reduce the impact of your dog barking on your neighbors. While you’re re-training your dog for better behavior, try keeping your dog furthest away from your neighbors as far as possible to reduce the nuisance from the barking. Keep your neighbors posted on your progress of the re-training of your dog from time to time. Having your neighbors’ understanding is a great way to maintain goodwill and avoid complaint calls.
4. Keeping Your Dog Well-Adapted
- Give your dog sufficient exercise. Dogs are social and need the stimulant from their surrounding for better adaptability and to stay healthy. Walk your dog frequently around your neighborhood. Occasionally take your dog to open areas or parks where it can run around freely.
- Give your dog sufficient attention. Dogs are pack animals and feel more secure when they are part of a pack. But in the absence of other dogs to form that pack, allow it to socialize with you and your family whenever possible. Don’t let your dog remain outside the house or unattended when you are home; your dog will feel neglected, anxious, and frustrated, leading to bad behavior.
- Consistency is key. A human inconsistency often causes dogs to be confused. For instance, when they bark, you shout in response, but at other times you ignore them. As a result, your dog can’t figure out whether barking is good behavior or bad. The only way to train your dog to have good behavior is to be consistent to learn good behaviors and not bad ones.
- Teach your dog to obey the “quiet” command. It is more meaningful than shouting at your dog to stop barking. As with any good behavior, you want your dog to learn, so be consistent. Start by teaching your dog to “talk” on command. You can do this by simulating a visitor coming to the door and knocking on it. When your dog barking starts, give it a treat; use the clicker if you’re also clicker training. Once your dog responds consistently and is looking for a treat, give this behavior a cue word, like “talk.” Once your dog barking becomes consistent when commanded, you’re ready to teach the “quiet” command. Find a quiet spot with no distractions. Tell your dog to “talk” and say “quiet,” wait for it to stop barking, use the clicker and reward it with a treat. Repeat this exercise until your dog can link the command “quiet” with controlling its barking as well as being rewarded for staying quiet.
Find that the four approaches to getting your dog to stop barking for better behavior are somewhat overwhelming. You can check out the Stop Dog Barking Device, which works to train dogs and correct their behavioral issues.