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Dogs bark for a variety of reasons, and in order to stop dog barking, we need to first identify why the dog is barking. It is always best to identify the reason for the problem. Some breeds of dogs simply bark more than others. Shelties, other herding breeds, small breeds like yorkies, and some terriers bark a little more than the average dog. This should be taken into consideration when adding a breed of this type to your life, as dogs that bark more instinctually are harder to stop.
Other types of barking that are common: separation from the family, territorial, and attention related. Dogs will bark or howl when separated for periods of time from family members. This is not uncommon at all, and their barking is a way of trying to locate and bring you back. Territorial barking occurs when a dog sees someone walking by their backyard or house. This type of barking only occurs on their property or territory. Lastly, and one of the most common forms, attention barking. This is barking that the dog has learned works to get your attention: walk it, feed it, play with it, etc. Whatever it is, the dog has learned that if it barks, you will do something. Some other kinds of barking also exist, but they are usually related more to aggression, and that is a different matter entirely that has to be addressed in another way.
We will talk about how to stop dog barking related to the reasons outlined above aside from aggression. Here are some of the best tips for working through a barking problem:
Once you know why your dog barks, you can work to fix it. Pack separation and territorial barking often occurs in the backyard when the dog has been left alone. Dogs left unsupervised for long periods of time have a hard time with this issue, and it may warrant you not leaving your dog unsupervised outside. A dog that practices the barking a lot will continue to do it or even intensify it.
Exercise! Often times, a dog barks a lot more than it would if it were adequately exercised. So many dogs are not walked and tired out each day, and that energy has to go somewhere. One of the places that it manifests itself is in excess barking. If you are not walking your dog each day, now is the time to start. Your goal should be to tire your dog out each day.
Use a whistle. Take a whistle like a silent dog whistle or regular whistle and this will be a tool to use to interrupt your dog’s barking. Get a lot of little goodies like hot dog chunks, cheese cubes, bits of chicken, or whatever your dog really, really likes. Blow the whistle, give the goodie. Do this many times in quick succession. We are pairing the sound with the food. Now, as your dog moves about and isn’t watching you, blow the whistle. He will return for the treat and reward him. Practice this a lot so he keeps it fresh in his mind. This way, when he goes to bark for territorial reasons at a window or fence line, you can blow the whistle: interrupts his behavior and he comes to you.
Teach a ‘quiet’ command. Simply put, this is rewarding your dog for silence on command. When he is quiet, tell him often ‘good quiet,’ and reward him with a treat. When he begins to bark, wait for him to cease (even if for only a few seconds), and tell him ‘good quiet,’ and give a treat. He will quickly learn he is being rewarded for the silence, and he will learn the command so that when you say ‘quiet,’ he stops barking.
If your dog has problems with attention barking, the simplest way to stop dog barking is to ignore the dog. No longer do anything when the dog is barking at you. Only feed him, play toys, etc when he is not barking, and he will learn that barking is not a way you want him to communicate with you.
We can quickly stop dog barking if we consistently train them that barking is not the most effective thing anymore. We can interrupt the behavior with a whistle; we can exercise him more so he has less excess energy; we can ignore him; and lastly, we can teach him that being quiet is well rewarded. Following these tips will get you on the road to stop your dog from barking.