According to various studies carried out by dog training professionals, stopping a dog from barking is one of the most commonly requested solutions dog owners are looking for when they hire a dog trainer.
Learning how to stop a dog barking is one thing. But first we must take the time to understand why a dog is barking in the first place. You could start here: Why do dogs bark?
Now, on to the process of learning to cure unwanted dog barking...
Teaching a Dog Not to Bark
Let's look at one of the best tips to stop dog barking. It's short, it's simple and it works! If it were written in the form of a Japanese proverb it might sound something like this:
"To teach a dog not to bark, first you have to teach it to bark."
We're looking to stop our dog barking and so we go about training to bark?
Well, yes. You see, a dog barking can only really be expected to understand a command to stop barking if he's been taught it. Attaining an element of control to your dog's barking is one the most effective ways to control their unwanted barking. After all, you wouldn't just say sit to a dog and expect him to understand. You'd teach the command.
Sandy Finley is a professional dog trainer. Here are his top tips to cure unwanted dog barking:
Dogs do not engage in unrewarding behaviour. Dog training is mostly about making bad behaviours unrewarding. If we simply employ this principle, we can stop our dog from barking excessively.
Dogs bark because it is a natural behaviour. Barking is used to alert their pack of possible danger and to give warning to others. This natural behaviour can go astray when the canine is bored, stressed or for various other reasons. An analogy would be overeating in humans. Eating is obviously a natural behaviour. However, if we are bored, stressed or suffer from various maladies we sometimes overeat. Natural behaviours can become unnatural given a toxic environment. This is what occurs with your dog barking excessively.
We therefore have a problem with a cause and a symptom. The cause of your dog’s barking is generally stress or boredom. The symptom is the headache inducing noise known as “excessive barking”.
As your dog’s trainer, you would strive to eliminate both the cause and the symptom. Both canine stress and boredom can be alleviated by exercising your dog. A tired dog is a good dog. Exercise both his mind and body. This can be accomplished by walking your dog and obedience training. Different breeds will need different degrees of exercise. If you have a working breed like a Border Collie, you will need large doses of work to drain his energy reserves. Less active dogs will need less work.
Unfortunately, it may take a great deal of time to reverse barking behaviours that have become ingrained. It would accordingly also be appropriate to address the excessive barking behaviour directly. To do this would involve retraining your dog that excessive barking is unrewarding.
To retrain your dog not to bark, I’d suggest the following:
· Create an environment where barking is unrewarding and quiet is rewarding.
· Every time your dog barks inappropriately, go to him and command "NO."
· When the dog barks, go to where he is. Do not call him to you.
· Go to him immediately after he barks.
· Go to him every time he barks, for as long as it takes, until he associates barking with unpleasantness.
· Your 'punishment' should be so consistent that the dog comes to perceive it as an automatic and inevitable consequence of barking, but you should not be seeking to frighten the dog - simply to disrupt the unwanted behaviour and reward the desired response.
· When the dog is quiet, reward him with your presence and your affectionate praise.
Finally, if your dog is aggressive, hire a professional dog trainer to assist you. Rehabilitating an aggressive dog will often involve employing specialised knowledge and experience.