Almost every dog barks, it’s normal! However, what sets you apart as their companion is how you handle their barking.
Most owners opt for the easy way out, but this isn’t your best option as these methods often inflict pain on your dog. A specific example is the use of shock collars, which should be a method that evokes sympathy and anger in you as their parent. Harm and pain are never the answer!
Assuming and knowing that you do not wish to cause harm towards them, here are the safe and effective ways to get your furry friend to stop barking. Go through each one and see which works!
Why Do Dogs Bark?
Though all dog parents hope their dogs could speak to them, they unfortunately can’t.
With that said, the simple act of barking is their way to communicate with you. It is your role to understand them — it could be a message, an emotion or a warning. By understanding the reason behind the barking, you will be better equipped to resolve and stop their response.
To get the ideas flowing, the common reasons are they can sense danger, they do not wish to be alone, they want something or they’re excited or bored.
Now that you’ve worked on understanding your dog, here is how to safely tackle the situation.
#1 Avoid Rewarding the Act
Let’s picture a specific situation: your dog is barking at the door and your response is to open the door for them.
Over time, they will recognize that barking helps them attain what they desire. In this case, the behavior will extend beyond barking at the door, and into barking for anything they want. By following your dog, you are rewarding the act of barking.
Instead, you should ignore them. More specifically, you have to wait until they have stopped and have calmed down, and then you can give them what they want. By waiting it out, your dog will understand that barking is not their solution for everything.
As their doggy parent, you are in control and not them. Conditioning your dog to think otherwise could lead to an issue that can be hard to resolve. It’s best to start now and gradually train them.
And remember, this causes no harm towards your best friend.
#2 Volume Does Not Assert Dominance
Aside from the instinctive response of giving them what they barked for, another instinct is to yell your command.
It’s vital to note that this isn’t effective and may provoke your dog further. To replace this response, you should speak in a gentle and calm voice. In addition to that, let them know that you’ve received their message. For example, if they were barking at the window, you should show them that you’ve checked outside the window for any danger or warning.
The mere act of letting them know you listened, could ease their fear, frustration, and stress. On this step, you are establishing a bond and a mutual understanding.
#3 Keep Your Dog Active
As stated earlier, a potential reason for barking is being bored and lonely.
You may notice that your dog barks before you leave, while you’re gone or as soon as you arrive. In that case, they are trying to tell you that they have been lonely and bored while you were away.
If you spend a significant amount of time at work, a good move is to leave a variety of toys or hiring a dog sitter. A sitter would provide companionship for your furry friend — and they need it.
On this note, the act of barking due to separation anxiety may be a deeper problem and require a professional opinion, like from their vet or a trainer. If your dog continues to bark regardless of the toys or sitter, it’s a good idea to do a little visit.
#4 Identify and Remove the Trigger
Tying to the first tip, the most helpful aspect is adapting to the way your dog thinks and perceives things.
For example, when they bark at a stranger, and the person moves away, your dog thinks their barking gained them victory. The solution to this is knowing your dog’s triggers like strangers, the mailman or even different animals. Once you’ve identified your list, you should relocate your dog when they are present.
Although, you may not always be able to move your dog away from such. And a worthy technique to try is called desensitizing.
1. The trigger is not within your dog’s scope yet.
2. Give them a treat.
3. Move the trigger a little closer to your dog.
4. Continue to give them treats while the trigger is present.
5. As soon as the trigger is not present, stop giving the treats.
Desensitizing teaches your dog that when the trigger is present, a positive event is also about to occur, such as treats!
#5 The “Quiet” Command
For any command or trick, the teaching process is difficult and lengthy.
Though this command isn’t too common, it’s worth a shot and it’s called “Quiet,” and, “speak.” Not only does it get your dog to stop barking, but it also teaches them to communicate on command. Here’s how to get it started:
1. Have a bag of treats on hand.
2. Get your furry friend to bark out of excitement. Once they bark, give them a treat.
3. Right before they bark, say the verbal command, “Speak.”
Once your dog has that under control, it’s time for the other part.
1. Command “Speak,” and wait for them to bark.
2. After three or four barks, say the word, “Quiet.”
3. Once they stop barking, give them a treat.
When it comes to your dog, almost everything will take time, and patience is needed. Through patience, training them will eventually lead to an effective result.
Aside from this, you should always save some time for your furry friend — they are a part of your family and should be treated as such.
Happy training, dog parents!