Strong Dogz

Barking is a normal dog behaviour! 
People communicate through speech and dogs communicate through barking. 
The title of this article should probably be “How to stop your dog from constantly barking”.  Anybody that wants a dog that never barks should probably get a stuffed toy that looks like a dog rather than a real one!

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If, however, your dog is driving you or your neighbours crazy with their incessant barking.

Dogs that bark continuously can become the subject of complaints from angry neighbours and it’s even been known for people to hand their dogs in to shelters because they can’t stop them from barking!

There are lots of reasons why dogs bark.  Your dog might be feeling anxious, lonely, nervous, excited, uncomfortable, hungry or thirsty. They might need to go outside to relieve themselves. They might just be trying to communicate with you and let you know what it is that they want.  Working out whether there is a simple explanation for your dog’s barking and acting on it could be all that is needed for them to stop!  Maybe they are territorial and bark at every passerby or every dog they see, basically “telling” them to stay away!  Maybe they are fearful and react to even the slightest of sounds or changes in their environment.  Maybe they are aggressive barkers.  Maybe they bark every time the phone rings or someone knocks at your door.  Maybe they just enjoy barking!  If you can work out what triggers your dog’s barking then you are already half way to solving the problem!

There are several things you can do to stop your dog from barking but they DO NOT include shouting, prodding, poking, kicking, spray bottles, leash jerks or e-collars!  If you use force and aversive training tools all you are teaching your dog is to be fearful!  Such training methods might appear to work in the short term but the long term consequences can be disastrous!  You may well stop your dog from barking but you will also have taught them that you are someone to be feared.  Is that really the sort of relationship you want with your dog?  Dogs taught with force are much more likely to “suddenly snap” or “attack for no reason”!  Actually, there is nothing sudden about it and there is always a reason.  How would you feel if you were “abused” like this on a daily basis – surely one day you too would “snap”!

Please don’t shout at your dog.  Every time your dog is barking and you shout at him to be quiet, you are actually “rewarding” the barking by joining in and therefore reinforcing it!

Sometimes stopping a dog from barking can be as simple as ignoring it and then rewarding him as soon as he stops.  Be warned though, if you do decide to ignore your dog’s barking then you mustn’t “give in” and react to him after a certain amount of time.  All you will have done is taught him that he needs to bark for longer in order to get your attention!  You have just successfully reinforced his barking for a longer period of time!

If your dog is barking throughout the day when you aren’t at home, try and figure out why.  Have you provided him with enough mental and physical stimulation?  Have you given him enough exercise?  Make sure that he’s had a long walk or maybe a nice game of fetch or tug before you leave him.  A tired dog is more likely to rest than bark!  Have you left him with things to keep him occupied?  You could try a nice stuffed kong or a treat ball.  Are you leaving him on his own for long periods of time?  Maybe you could take him to “doggy day care”.  If that isn’t possible, perhaps you could ask a friend or family member to call round and take him out for a nice long walk.  Is he reacting to people walking past your house?  Why not try closing the curtains or maybe leaving him in an area of the house where he doesn’t have a view of the street.  Is he reacting to the doorbell ringing or people knocking?  Leave a note on your door asking people not to knock or ring the bell whenever you are out.  Is he reacting to noises?  You could try leaving a radio or the television on to “mask” any noise from outside.

If your dog constantly barks when you are at home then you need to be able to get his attention off what he is barking at and on to you!  You need to motivate him to want to come to you and to be quiet and reward him for doing so!  Use the best rewards possible as you want “coming to you” to be much more rewarding than barking!  This is going to take time, consistency and patience so keep at it!

If your dog is so focused on barking that you can’t get his attention, try walking him away from the trigger and letting him calm down.  If your dog constantly barks at other dogs, people or objects while you are out walking, he could be fearful.  Give him more distance, i.e. move away from what it is he is barking at so that he feels safe and give him lots of rewards for being quiet!

If you see that your dog is about to start barking why not divert his attention with something more enjoyable or by asking him to come, sit and stay and then rewarding him enthusiastically for doing so!

I like to teach a dog to “speak” on cue.  Yes, I actually ask them to bark!  Here is a link to a video showing you how to teach your dog to “speak” (How To Stop Your Dog Barking.1.)   Once you have taught. your dog to “speak” you can then teach them to “shush”!  One of the best ways to stop a dog from barking too much is to teach them “speak” and “shush”.  In other words “bark” and “be quiet”!  Notice I say “barking too much”…. Remember, barking is as normal for dogs as speaking is for us.  I communicate by speaking and my dogs communicate by barking!  I only ask them to “shush” if I think that their barking could be causing a nuisance.   Here is a link to a video demonstrating how to teach “speak”, “shush” and alternative behaviours.  (How To Stop Your Dog Barking.2.)

 Article by
Louise Stapleton-Frappell

Trainer for,  Jambo – The Staffy Bull Terrier Trick Dog. First “EVER” Staffordshire Bull Terrier to be a Crowned Trick Master Champion. for more details click the link HERE.