Dogs bark for many different reasons, no least of which is an attempt to seek for attention.
Another common reason for dogs to bark when they are home alone is separation anxiety. The minute you close the door behind you, they will bark their lungs out for no apparent reason. It’s an instinctive response to being left alone and not being around the owner.
Generally, treating excessive barking takes a lot of patience and time from the dog owner, so be prepared for that. But with that being said, here are our 15 tips to stop your dog from barking and ease up your life by a mile.
All the steps are listed in a descending order to give you an idea of what works best, or rather which tip you it is advisable for you to try first before attempting the next one.
15 Tips That Will Stop Your Dog from Barking
0. Common sense
That cat is making fun of your dog. First and foremost, use common sense in identifying the reasons behind the bark. Is your dog hungry, thirsty or needs to go really bad? Is there somebody standing behind the door, waiting for you to open it? Is there a kitten on your shoulder that you didn’t notice? Focus on the obvious things first and if there’s really, I mean really, nothing on your shoulder, then continue further with these tips below.
1. Use your authority
Who’s the owner here? Take control. Use dog’s name and the command “Quiet” in a firm, authoritative voice but without raising it, and then stare at the dog for a while. Your little friend will most likely start paying attention, but don’t release the look yet. Give them a second to accept the fact that they’re doing something wrong. Maintain strong posture, then confidently and silently communicate to your pet that there’s absolutely no reason to bark.
2. Communicate calmness
Dogs bark because they are always alert. In order to calm down your dog’s barking, you must stay calm yourself. Shouting usually makes things worse. Use the firmness in your voice as discussed above and try to demonstrate to your dog that there’s nothing to be alerted about.
3. Create boundaries
Building an invisible barrier. If your dog is barking at something specific and you know what it is, you must use the previous two points to assert some sort of invisible barrier between the dog and that specific person, object, etc. Just like a child, your pet must understand that barking at this specific thing is a no-no and he’s breaking a rule.
4. Use “come to me”
Countering their action with command. If you have taught your dog the very basic stuff (which you should’ve), show them that you’re in charge by using “come to me” command technique whenever they start barking. This will distract them from whatever they are doing and bring all the focus “onto the owner”, which is what a loyal dog does.
5. Advocate good behavior
Positive reinforcement training session. When you go through any one of the steps above, make sure you use positive reinforcement on your dog. After you asked your pet to stop, and they did, clearly praise their action with words and give them a healthy treat. This is an ongoing process.
6. Get them out
Some fresh air and exercise. Not always, but sometimes dogs feel frustrated because of the lack of exercise and fresh air. Obviously, they don’t know about it and won’t always ask to go outside. As a dog owner, you should know your dog so well so that you’d be able to tell when he/she is barking because of this particular reason.
7. Socialize with them
Dogs want your attention too. Once you’ve gone through the steps above, another option you have to prevent your canine from barking in the future is spending more personal time with them. Exercise and walks are good, but you also need to spend time playing and communicating with your dog, demonstrating care and attention.
8. Find them something to do
Distract them like they are children. If a child is crying, you give them a toy, but if a dog is barking, you give them a toy. This will take some effort on your part and it doesn’t always work, but try your best to get them interested in whatever you’re suggesting after you have tried the methods above. The first few methods should be tried first before attempting to provide your dog with a chew toy.
9. Remove the stimulus
Preventing barking in the first place is smart. This might require some investigation, but you’ll need to find the exact reasons for what triggers your dog’s alarm-bell and remove them. If your K9 is barking because of a door bell, consider changing it. If your dog barks every time you cook eggs in a certain manner, consider doing it in a different way.
10. Beware of the environment
Bring him inside if he’s barking a lot outdoors. Maybe there’s something that bothers your pet when he/she is in the backyard, something you don’t notice? Maybe it’s the wind that feels uncomfortable for your dog? There can be many different reasons for what part of the environment is making your dog to be annoying, but it’s your job to control this.
11. Get professional help
Not for yourself, but for your dog. You probably don’t need any professional help yet, but if none of the tips above worked and your pet is still barking, you might need it soon. Instead, hire a professional dog behavior training specialist (a pet behaviorist) and work on this problem you and your roommate have. Yes, at this point, this is a problem.
12. Take him to the vet
Not everything is what it seems. Rarely, but it does happen that there might be something wrong with your dog, health-wise. Professional behaviorist obviously won’t notice it, but if nothing from their arsenal works, they will most definitely suggest that your dog visits a veterinary clinic. Do that.
13. Anti-bark products
Almost last and definitely least. They do work, but use this as your last measure. Why? No, they’re not harmful (if you use the humane ones, e.g. anti-bark water-spray collar) but they are still annoying for the dog and, most importantly, they won’t teach him anything other than he/she will be punished for barking by some apparatus. The goal is to make the dog understand that barking is a no-no and not force them into it.
De-barking surgery to partially remove your dog’s vocal chords. It works – this makes your dog sound quieter (it doesn’t completely remove his/her ability to bark). Is this fair towards the dog? No. Do I really need to say more?
And here is what you do if you want for the problem to continue:
- Yelling at your dog to stop barking
- Beating and otherwise punishing your dog
- Giving treats, praising or comforting a dog that barks
- Ignoring the whole problem altogether
Personal touch. Personally, I found that only two commands will usually work best to stop my own dog from barking. These are “come to me” and “speak and be quiet”. Once you (or rather your dog) master these two techniques – which aren’t that difficult – you guys won’t have any problems whatsoever.
Here’s to happy & healthy (and not-barking-without-reason) dogs!
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