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Control Barking in Dogs
Why do dogs bark?
Excessive barking is a common complaint
with dog owners (and their neighbors). Dogs
bark for a variety of reasons: out of boredom, warning, lonely, fear,
get attention, it is fun, etc. Some breeds, like many herding breeds, may
be more vocal
than others. For example, my beloved Shetland Sheepdog is a breed prone to
They use vocalizing as part of herding. Shelties can be very vocal dogs!
day one when barking will and will not be permitted is very important!
Many Shelties are
given up each year due to barking. Many dogs PERIOD are given up each year
barking. However, this need not be. Barking is a problem that can be
worked with if you
are consistent and diligent.
How can I control my dog's
The easiest thing to do is NOT allow
barking to get to be a bad habit. As soon as your
puppy or dog joins your house, you need to start teaching what will and
will not be
Use a command such as NO BARK or ENOUGH
and reinforce it with praise as
soon as the dog quiets down. Use a firm but not yelling voice and again,
sound like barking and make the situation worse as you are barking as
well! Show the
dog that you really like it when he is quiet. Just shouting NO can sound
like a bark and
get your dog even more exited and barky!
Reward the dog for not barking
As soon as the dog stops barking, you need to reinforce the stopping of
barking with a treat and praise. No puppy is born knowing command. You
have to teach that each command has an action and if that action is done,
good things will follow. Positive motivation is a great training
technique! Be careful not to inadvertently praise behaviors you do not
want. Cuddling and stroking a barking dog can give the dog the impression
you like what it is doing.
What if you want the dog to alert
bark when someone is at the door?
Set up training scenarios. Have someone ring the bell or knock. Call the
dog to you and have
him escort you to the door. Ask excitedly "Who's there?" "Check it out!"
or whatever cue
you decide to use. Go to the door, have the dog sit and then have him stop
Praise and treat the stopping of barking. Teach him that when you get to
the door and
check out the situation, he can be quiet. Be consistent, be positive and
Practice several short sessions a day and the dog will eventually learn
what you want.
Stop undesired barking as soon as it starts.
Positively reinforce the behaviors
Many issues can be avoided if they are worked with from the beginning.
owners are reactive (addressing issues after they become problems) as
opposed to being
proactive (not allowing issues to begin or get out of hand.
What if your dog is already
You can try several things. First,
identify why your dog is barking: Lonely, alerting
you to something, fear, bored, aggression, etc. Knowing the trigger or
triggers is a big part in working towards a solution.
If your dog is alerting you to something, teach him that when you have
checked out a
situation and you have told him it is fine, he must stop barking. My dogs
learn that I want
them to alert me to things on the property or that could pose a threat. As
soon as a pack
leader has checked it out and given the all clear, the dog does not need
to alert me
anymore. (I say, "Enough! It's fine" this is their cue that I have given
the all clear and
alerting me is no longer needed).
If your dog is bored or lonely,
you need to get active with him.
Toys, games, training, interaction all
go a long way to help a bored or lonely dog. A tired
dog is generally a better behaved dog. Boredom and loneliness can lead to
undesired behaviors as well. Get a variety of toys like Kongs, safe chew
toys, Buster Cubes, etc., that will stimulate your dog's mind and get him
doing something. Obedience lessons, Agility or
other sport as well as just playing fetch will help. Do not leave your dog
Dogs who are outside all day especially
when no one is home are more
prone to becoming nuisance barkers for a variety of reasons listed above
as well as a big
one: NO ONE IS HOME TO TEACH HIM PROPER BEHAVIOR. If no one shows him
what he can and cannot do, the issue will persist.
Barking during Play
If your dog barks during play, calm the play down. Relax the dog and start
again. Keep play under control and integrate training into the play.
Some dogs are pathological barkers and intervention with a behaviorist may
be needed if
training does not work, you cannot find the source of the barking, etc.
having a trainer or behaviorists watch your dog can help give you ideas.
Often we cannot
see the forest for the trees and we need an outsider to look at a
situation in a different
Collars which stop barking
Many people want a fast and easy way out
and may resort to various collars that
stop barking. If any training aid is used wrong, it can frustrate and
possibly worsen the
situation. Collars negatively reinforce the barking through a shock,
noise, or spray with a
scent dogs do not like. Some dogs learn to ignore the collars. Others may
nervous behaviors due to the constant punishment.
The best thing to do to help with
barking is not to allow it to become a habit in the first
A few things you can do are:
1) Train from day one what will and will not be allowed. Remember, some
are more prone to barking, but any dog can be a nuisance barker.
2) Teach a command that lets the dog know you want him to be quiet like NO
BARK or ENOUGH.
3) Keep your dog inside when you are not home. Dogs left outside alone all
more prone to nuisance barking.
4) Obedience training.
5) Adequate exercise, proper attention to him, mental and physical
dog that gets what he needs mentally and physically is less apt to be a
6) Teach your dog when he can bark and that once you have checked out a
he can stop altering you.
7) Try to find the trigger of the bark – like neighborhood kids teasing
8) Do not inadvertently teach the dog that constant barking is good.
9) Positive training methods to encourage the dog to stay quiet when told
10) Do not let the dog get away with barking for hours before you tell him
The dog may be getting set to stop anyhow and he is getting attention from
increasing the chance of barking if he is doing it for attention. Stop the
it first starts.
Dogs allowed to become nuisance barkers
disturb the whole neighborhood – even if you
are not bothered by it. You can end up being fined by your community for
ordinances or even having an irate neighbor take the law into his own
hands! Do not
allow your dog to become a nuisance in your community.
Managing Excessive Barking
Pet Editor, Your Life Magazine on line,
West Wind Dog Training
© 2006 West Wind Dog Training, no part may
be used without written permission.