Reducing Barking in Dogs
Barking dog guidelines:
- Hands off your dog when he is being vocal
Any touching or soothing behavior at this point will only reinforce the barking! Only touch your pet when he is still and quiet.
- Do not reward barking behavior by:
petting or touching your dog, picking him up (leave him on the floor), feeding your dog a treat or his dinner, opening the door for him because he is yelling at you, letting him out of his crate or giving him something that he may want (his walk, his cookie, his dinner, his car ride, etc.) Have him be quiet before you give him what he wants. Otherwise he has you emotionally blackmailed and he will use it every time.
- Reward silence!
This is the most important part of teaching your dog to be quiet. Each time your dog is quiet when he would normally bark, make sure you praise him vocally, with a treat and/or a pat or a scratch. This is so he learns to like having silence in your house.
- Be consistent
Every time your dog barks when it is not appropriate, you must give the quiet command and use the tools for about the first six to eight weeks, after which, the command "QUIET" should be enough to stop the noise. If it does not, get your tools out and correct him so he knows you mean it every time you say it!
- Make your dog a part of your family
Unacceptable behavior, like unwanted barking, is NEVER improved by isolating your dog in the back yard. In fact, that may be the very reason why your dog is barking in the first place....because he is unhappy being left alone outside by himself. Bring your dog inside while you are gone if that is the only time he is barking. He will feel more secure and a part of things inside the house and will be less apt to bark. If he is destructive in the house while you are gone, then crate train him so he is prevented from being destructive. A dog is a pack animal and needs daily social interaction with his family. As a minimum, your dog should be kept in the house whenever you are home. If you have not taken your dog to training class, now is the time to do so. Pack animals need their pack and for better or for worse you're it.
- Provide plenty of exercise
Before you leave the house for the day, give Fido a good romp with a ball or a Frisbee. A tired dog is a good dog because then he is sleeping, not barking or being destructive. If your dog is being teased or upset by your neighbors, then build a secure, sight proof dog run in the middle of your yard away from the fence.
- Time outs
Before you leave your dog alone, do not spend so much time with him that when it comes time for you to run errands or go to work on Monday, Fido is over anxious at the thought of you leaving him. Deliberately ignore him for 20 to 30 minutes at least three times a day. Pretend he is not there. Do not pet him, say anything to hi, make direct eye contact and just move away should he try to paw you, nudge you or crawl in your lap. Make sure your whole family participates in the time out periods or they are ineffective. Once he accepts these time outs calmly, go on to number eight.
- Use time buffers
Studies have shown that most dogs are at their destructive and vocal worst 20 minutes after you leave in the morning (Fido is stressed he has to spend the day alone) and 20 minutes before you come home in the evening (Fido is getting geared up to see his favorite person!) Time buffers teach the dog to settle down for the day and to remain unemotional when you first return home. Fifteen minutes before you need to leave the house in the morning, put your dog in his crate, dog run, room or wherever he is to spend the day and ignore him. By all means, correct any barking or destructive behavior but do not play with or talk to him other than to correct inappropriate behaviors. When it is time for you to leave, just leave. Do not make a big deal out of it. A "Good-bye, Fido. Have a nice day." is enough. What you are teaching your dog is to settle in for the day and not get over emotional when you say good-bye. Now do just the reverse when you come home. Leave your dog in his day confinement for fifteen minutes before greeting him. If your dog is loose in the house, do not touch him, make direct eye contact or talk to him for 15 minutes before greeting him. Correct any barking behavior but nothing more. This will teach your dog that even though you have come home, there is a cooling off period before he can be greeted.
- Give your dog something to do while you are gone
If your dog is busy chewing, it's very unlikely that he will be barking at the same time. Good chewing toys are Kongs, Planet Pet toys or sterilized bones stuffed with cheese, biscuits, peanut butter or any meat leftovers. Put the special chew toy down just before you leave for the day and pick it up when you return home. Do not give him this toy at any other time. Another good item to keep your dog busy is the Buster Cube. You fill it with your dogs ration of kibble and he has to work on it to receive his meal.
- Try set ups
A set up is where you would do everything you would normally do if you were leaving for the day, such as putting your dog in his crate, getting your car keys, your coat and walking out the door. The difference is that you do not leave but rather wait just outside the door waiting to see what your dog will do. If your dog starts howling or barking, you can quickly go back to the house and correct him with the "QUIET" command and a squirt bottle. Then immediately leave again and only to stand outside the door.
- Do not hit, slap, punch, kick or hold your dog's mouth shut in the hope that he will stop barking. Punishment such as this will only teach your dog to fear you and will do nothing to solve your barking problems. Use the techniques described in the Teaching The "Quiet" Command" section of this site