Barking is an interesting training problem and one of the more challenging ones to deal with. Dogs bark naturally as a form of communication, especially in some breeds. But if your dog's barking has turned excessive, it can quickly become annoying. It may also be a problem in an apartment or with nearby neighbors if your dog is barking constantly or during quiet hours.
It is important that you find the right fix to excessive barking for your peace of mind and for your dog's well being.
How to Stop Dog Barking
The first step in training is often to figure out why your dog is barking so you can apply the right fix. Common reasons for dogs to bark are their breeding as alert dogs or hunting dogs, boredom, separation anxiety, protecting territory, or confusion in the training process.
All of these are fixable once you understand the problem:
- Boredom - Many dogs will bark for something to do, especially if it gets your attention and provides momentary relief from boredom. Helping your dog burn off excess energy with more walks, games of fetch, intense training sessions, and puzzles will stimulate his mind and make him physically tired so that he is ready to rest rather than bark when you are hanging out at home.
- Separation Anxiety - If your dog is barking from separation anxiety, a focused training program to help reduce anxiety will help. Often additional exercise, crate training, setting boundaries, and helping your dog get used to spending extended time alone can naturally reduce barking and anxiety.
- Defending Territory - If your dog barks when people walk by or approach your house, the most effective solution is often training your dog to refocus his attention in these moments, such as by retrieving a toy, going to place, or coming to you. This is also a good solution if you have a dog breed that is predispositioned to bark in alert or defense.
- Bad Habits - Many times, your dog can pick up barking as a bad habit if someone initially yelled at him to get her to stop barking or you were giving a treat when he was quiet after barking. Your dog may have interpreted barking as being the correct response and now continues to bark. Retrain your dog by redirecting the barking response towards another behavior and rewarding that instead.
When training your dog to stop barking, avoid yelling or talking to him since this attention can reinforce the behavior. Do not use scare tactics like throwing things or hitting your dog either, as these can have adverse effects. Timing is also key when stopping barking, which is one of the reasons training out excessive barking is difficult and why working with a professional can often be valuable.