How to get your dog to stop their excessive barking
It’s 11pm on a Tuesday and you are slowly drifting off into a blissful slumber when all of a sudden your peaceful slice of REM cycle paradise is interrupted by a sharp noise. And then again, and again, and again until you are sitting straight up in bed realizing your dog is barking wildly. You spring up and rush out of your room to see what the commotion is and realize that he-or-she is seeing a light from a car in the distance, or a swirling wind blow something that looks like a squirrel through the yard, or something else nondescript that you can’t even make out in the stupefying half-asleep state you are in.
If this describes you, or something close to you, you may benefit from some of the tips and techniques we are about to get into below. This information is not a miracle fix, however, some of these techniques will require some patience and/or effort on your part in order to teach or reteach your dog more vocally-responsible behaviors. Another factor in the equation will be how long your dog has been exhibiting the unwanted behavior; the longer they have been doing it, the longer it may take to retrain them.
As you are implementing some of these techniques, it is always imperative that you keep a few fundamental practices in mind. It is tempting to want to yell at your dog to stop barking when they start getting riled up, but this is not a good idea. Most times the dog will think you are getting excited and worked up with them and just continue to bark even more. You want to take a very calm, disciplined approach to this process. Don’t enforce any of these unwanted behaviors by losing your cool.
It should go without saying that you want to use positive reinforcement to train your dog. We are not neanderthals and we should not be using barbaric methods to train a loved part of our family. Keep in mind that your dog is not intentionally doing things to purposefully annoy you, they are creatures of instinct and react to stimuli based on those instinctual impulses. Be positive, and be patient with them, they just want your love and affection. If you teach them properly they can, regardless of age, learn ‘new tricks’.
Lastly, don’t confuse them. You want to start changing behavioral patterns, and to do that successfully you must commit to the techniques you are using to change those behaviors. If you don’t commit to the process, you may start to confuse your dog, which will make the entire exercise a very counter-productive endeavour for you both.
Ok, let’s talk about some specific strategies you can use.
Remove the impetus for them to bark
Know what triggers their barking, and take preventative measures to prevent your dog’s exposure to those triggers. For example, if you know your dog barks excessively at squirrels in the yard in the afternoons, you can close the drapes or place the dog in another room so that they cannot see the squirrels. This strategy seems obvious, and it is, but sometimes the most obvious answer is the correct one!
Get them enough exercise
Just because dogs are domesticated animals, doesn’t mean they don’t have an innate need to run, walk, roam, explore and yes, bark. Most dogs in our modern society have pent up energy because they are confined to an indoor space or outdoor yard area. If they can not release their energy through daily walks and playtime, that just leads to more energy left over for them to expend on barking at random and annoying things. Make sure your dog is getting the exercise they need each day, and you just might find that they are too tired to bark at every single leaf that falls off the trees in the afternoon.
Teach them the “quiet” command
According to an article posted by the Humane Society, teaching your dog a quiet command can be an effective way to stop the behavior once it has started. Part one of this technique is to first teach your dog the “speak” command. Grab some treats and sit with your dog, asking him to “speak” until you get him to bark 2 or 3 times in a row. Once they do that, give them some treats as a reward. Continue doing this until they get it down. This may take a few days or weeks depending on the breed. Once your dog has the “speak” command down, you can begin to teach them the “quiet” command. The process here is very similar. You will want to grab some treats and sit with your dog asking him to first “speak”. Once you have him barking, you will start requesting him to be “quiet”. Once they stop barking, then you will give them some treats again as a reward. You will continue this process again until they understand both the “speak” and “quiet” commands. Once that has taken root, you should be able to curb barking outbursts with a simple command.
We hope these tips are a help. Please let us know if you have any suggestions from your own experience. If you enjoyed the article please do us a favor and share!