Would you give anything to stop puppy barking? When puppies bark excessively, it can really put a strain on your new relationship. The same thing goes for excessive barking in adult dogs. Thankfully, there are lots of ways you can address this situation and find the appropriate solution that’ll keep everybody happy.
Here’s a look at why dogs bark in the first place and some training methods that may be helpful for this troublesome form of dog behavior.
Potential Reasons Your Dog Is Showcasing Excessive Barking
When considering the best way to address excessive barking, it’s important to understand why this behavior happens in the first place. Here are a few common reasons.
- Alarm barking – In many instances, puppies bark as sort of an alarm to other animals. They might be warning them something’s wrong in the neighborhood, or they might be telling another animal – or even a person – to stay away because they’re getting a little too close. There are even times where a bark is actually a good thing. Your pet may be warning you of an intruder or some other sort of danger in your home.1
- Health issues – A dog will sometimes bark if they’re not feeling good. Feel around your puppy’s body to see if they bark if you touch a tender spot. If the barking is out of character, check with your vet to see if something’s wrong.2
- Loneliness – If you have to leave your pup alone for extended periods of time, they might bark due to separation anxiety. Puppies, like all dogs, are pack animals. They want to be with you – the pack leader – as much as possible.3
- Excitement – There are a lot of dogs who simply can’t help themselves when their owners get home, and will bark over and over again because they’re so happy.
- Territorial barking – Dogs will also bark at people and other dogs when they believe they’re encroaching on their territory. Their hearts may be in the right place, but this is still not acceptable behavior.
How To Get A Dog To Stop Barking
If you incorporate some of these dog training methods into your daily routine – and follow a consistent training program – you might just find your puppy barking problems will soon be a thing of the past.
Using The Word “Quiet” To Train Your Pup
Whether it’s a demand bark, an excited bark, alarm barking, or any other type of related barking issue (including barking at other people or dogs), you always want to be calm and use positive reinforcement to stop this behavior. That means giving praise and a tasty treat every once in a while. This way, your puppy associates being quiet with something good.
The “quiet” method might help. In a nutshell, this means letting your dog bark until they hear the quiet command. You don’t shout the word – you say it in a calm, clear manner. Then, you gently hold your dog’s snout and repeat. Tell them to sit and then provide the treat. If they keep quiet, give another treat and some love every few minutes.4
Some pet owners are hesitant to try and hold their dog’s mouth because they’re afraid they’ll hurt their pup – or their pup won’t like it. If this is the case for you, simply walk up to your dog while they’re barking, say, “quiet,” and then provide a lot of small treats one at a time. When you keep doing this mental exercise with your pup over the next few days, they’ll eventually catch on. Gradually increase the time between treats from a couple of seconds to up to 20 seconds.5
Just remember, negative reinforcement should never be used to attempt to train a dog. If you are really struggling to keep your dog quiet, seek advice from a professional dog trainer.
Desensitize Your Dog To The Stimulus
You might have a dog that, for whatever reason, just can’t stand the sight of a certain item in your home. It could be something as innocuous as a picture frame, the sight of your vacuum, or even a child’s stuffed animal. If this is the case, you can gradually train your dog not to bark at the triggering object anymore. Here’s how to do it.
- Move the item so that it’s far enough away for the dog to see it, but not bark at it.
- Have a lot of treats handy and move the item a little bit closer to the object that prompts the barking. Give the dog a couple of treats while the item is within sight.
- Try moving the item out of sight and stop giving treats. Then, put it back into their range of vision, and give some more treats. Hopefully, the dog will eventually associate seeing the item with positive experiences, such as getting treats, and won’t bark at it any longer.6
Don’t Respond To Barking Dogs
Another approach you can take is to try to ignore the bark, but only if you think your pup is doing this to simply get your attention (and not to use the bathroom, etc).
This is going to be really challenging. But if you react while they’re barking, they might take that as a signal to bark even more.7 Here’s what you can try: Simply turn your back when your dog begins barking to demand your attention. The second they stop barking, give them praise and a treat. Pretty soon, they’ll associate being quiet with getting a reward.8
What Not To Do
Again, you should never resort to using any sort of negative reinforcement (yelling at your dog, hitting them, or using a shock collar). This will only make your dog scared of you and will not help the situation. You want to give your dog positive experiences with any sort of training, whether it’s for excessive barking or anything else.
Hopefully, these training methods will help keep your dog from being a nuisance by barking too much. If they don’t work, talk to your veterinarian to see if they can recommend a certified professional dog trainer that could help your pup learn to stop barking excessively at other dogs, people, or anything else.
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