Dog barking and complaints from the neighbors about barking dogs are the most frequent reasons that dogs are voluntarily sent to shelters and rescues by owners that have no idea how to stop barking. Besides voluntary surrenders, there are also by-
laws in many cities, towns and urban areas that can result in a dog being seized by the city if there is a repetitive pattern of complaints about barking. Unlike what many owners believe, there are very successful ways to train a dog to only bark when required.
Dog Barking – The Good
Dogs instinctively bark, they don't need to be trained to be watch dogs. Even toy dogs and companion breeds will vigorously bark to let their owners know that someone strange or something different is in their environment. Most people that have dogs appreciate this natural instinct, however when barking gets out of control or is allowed to continue for prolonged periods of time it quickly changes from a benefit to a serious problem.
Part of the problem with good dog barking and bad dog barking is that the dog really has no idea when the line is crossed. This is an important part of training that owners need to start as soon as the puppy or dog starts showing the behavior. By training barking dogs a simple "enough" or "stop" command the issue can be resolved, at least while the owner is present.
Stop Barking Techniques
As mentioned above, there are different techniques that owners can use when they are home and when they are away to help their dog learn to stop barking. Teaching the stop command or the enough command, depending on your preference, is the easiest way to control barking dogs.
To do this simply allow the dog to bark once or twice as normal, then give a sharp but not loud command such as "Stop barking Spot" or "Enough barking Fido", at the same time offering a treat or a favorite toy. The dog will naturally turn to the sound of your voice, see the treat or reward and stop barking. Reward immediately then have the dog sit or chase the toy, resulting in a distraction and cessation of the barking behavior.
If your voice doesn't stop the dog from barking, you can use anything else that will make a noise that is unusual. A whistle, bell or even a few coins or dried beans in a tin can will all produce a sudden, sharp and unusual noise that will get the dog to stop. If you are using a noisemaking device, remember that a reward needs to be provided the second the dog is not barking, and you have to give the verbal command of either stop or enough before making the noise.
Dog barking when you are away is more problematic. If it is caused by boredom, provide more exercise, toys and attention to the dog before you leave, plus ensure the dog is attended to when you are home. It may also be caused by separation anxiety, which will need more intensive training. This type of barking is the hardest to stop. Barking from anxiety is usually accompanied by other symptoms such as panting, frantic behaviors and unwillingness to be away from the owner at any time.
Citronella collars for barking dogs are a safe way to monitor your dog when you are gone, as the collar will spray a puff of citronella in front of the dog's nose when triggered by the vibrations in the throat. Of course barking dogs will also need attention, training and ongoing monitoring to learn how to stop barking and remain quiet when left alone.