How To Stop My Dog From Barking in Kittery, ME
Dogs bark for a variety of reasons and sometimes we welcome those barks because our dogs are letting us know something important. And barking is a natural response. But there are times when dogs bark for reasons that aren’t helpful and when they continue barking incessantly, it can grow annoying. Dog owners will often try stopping the dog from barking in ways that don’t address the underlying reasons. Sometimes they will inadvertently reward the barking. And methods like yelling, or being inconsistent in discipline (non-physical), do not work at all. It’s important to find the source of the behavior to be able to change it.
While you shouldn’t expect to stop the behavior overnight, there are solutions. But what might work for one dog, may not work with another. Plus, the longer the behavior has gone on, the more ingrained it will have become, and the longer it will take to stop it. This article will explore the reasons for dogs barking and methods to stop it.
Common Reasons Dogs Bark
- To get your attention
- Greeting people and other animals
- Protecting property
- Warning of an intruder or danger
- Hunger, thirst, or needing to go out
Causes Of Excessive Barking
If the dog’s reason for barking is left unaddressed, this often leads to excessive barking. If a dog’s basic needs (food, water, bathroom break/need for exercise, uncomfortable temperature) aren’t met and they have a pattern of signaling their need by barking, this will often lead to excessive barking. These dogs are literally crying for help.
Sometimes dogs bark excessively because of psychological issues, such as a fear of being alone/separation anxiety. These are issues that require help from a veterinarian or veterinary behaviorist. Other medical conditions and advancing age can be drivers of excessive barking as well. These issues will need diagnosis and treatment before any behavior issues can be addressed.
Tips For Training
- Keep sessions upbeat and positive.
- Consistency is key. Make sure everyone involved with the dog understands the training.
- Don’t yell at your dog. It won’t solve the issue.
Prevent Excessive Barking
When you’ve just gotten a new friend, whether an adult dog or a puppy, prevention is better than having to train a dog out of an undesirable behavior. Barking is normal behavior. But keeping your dog busy, and making sure he gets enough exercise and play time will help reduce barking.
When your dog barks, pay attention and see why. If he’s scared or stressed, avoid putting him in that situation. Remember, your dog is getting something out of barking. Once you figure out what the barking reward is, remove it. You’ll also want to keep a consistent daily schedule. Make sure your dog’s basic needs for sustenance and a comfortable temperature are being met. Provide entertainment in the form of puzzle toys or treat dispensing toys for stimulation. Keep him busy and distracted.
How To Stop A Dog From Barking
Dogs can be trained to stop excessive barking. Here’s how:
Use positive reinforcement. The most effective training method for dogs is positive reinforcement of the proper behavior. Never offer treats or rewards when a dog is misbehaving. That encourages the bad behavior with a reward.
Teach your dog a cue to get a treat. It doesn’t matter what words you choose. Something like, “Quiet down.” Teach him, when he is being quiet, by saying the que, then rewarding with a treat. Speak the phrase in a calm, quiet tone. Once he understands that calm behavior gets a reward, you can start using it when he’s misbehaving. Speak the cue, if he stops barking, give the treat as a reward. It won’t take long for him to connect receiving the treat when he isn’t barking.
Desensitize To Stimulus
If there’s something specific that stimulates your dog to bark, gradually accustom your dog to whatever it is. Begin work from a distance, far enough way that your dog doesn’t bark when he sees it. Get his attention and give him a treat. Move a little closer to the stimulus and give treats. When you reach the point that your dog starts barking, you’re too close. You need to back off a bit and keep working until your dog can approach the stimulus without barking.
Never Punish Your Dog
Punishment to stop barking will not work. Don’t throw objects or spray water at your dog. Don’t yell at him, make loud noises, or use punishing collars. Punishment will not stop a dog’s natural barking response. What it may do is cause aggression, phobias, high level stress, and cripple your dog’s ability to learn. It may also damage your relationship with your dog.
Don’t Reward Attention Seeking
Once your dog knows the que to get his reward, you’ll need a second cue to help with teaching him not to bark to seek attention. Give the cue, and if he keeps barking, give your second cue. Again it can be anything, “So Sorry.” Or “No snack.” Anything short will do. Then go into another part of your home, leaving the dog behind. You won’t need to stay more than a few minutes. If he remains quiet when you return, give him a treat.
Never let your dog out of his crate or gated room while he’s barking. Make sure your dog had exercise before being confined. Wait until he stops barking, even if it’s just a moment, to let him out and give a treat. Once he makes the connection that being quiet gets a treat, lengthen the time he has to be quiet to get a reward. Vary the amount of time (in seconds).
Most dogs will respond to positive reinforcement training and time. Don’t expect your dog to learn immediately. But once he understands your cues, you have a good method to help him learn to stop barking. It won’t matter what the situation is that’s making him bark. Never use physical punishment with a dog. It doesn’t work, and it may harm your relationship with your dog.
If despite your best efforts and giving it enough time, your dog just isn’t progressing, you may need to reach out to a dog trainer who can help you and your dog.
Here at Piscataqua Animal Hospital, we are ready to help you with whatever needs your pet may have. If you have any questions regarding your dog’s barking or would like to schedule an appointment with us, call us at (207) 439-2661.