As we all know, all dogs bark – although some slightly more than others.
Barking in itself is not a bad thing – it is an important tool that dogs use to communicate with each other, their environments and you of course. There are many situations in which it is perfectly acceptable for your dog to bark – but then of course many situations in which it is not.
In order to effectively stop your dog from barking in inappropriate or undesirable situations, you first need to understand why your dog is making such a ruckus.
What is your dog trying to tell you when he is barking?
A dog barking could mean that he is scared, excited, nervous, following its breeds instincts or even being aggressive. It is important for you as a dog owner to understand exactly what your dog’s triggers are.
As with all pooch behaviour modification, training your dog to stop barking at his triggers will require conditioning, patience, repetition, continuity and time. A behaviour change does not happen over-night, and depending on the age of your dog – it might even take several months for the new desirable behaviour to become permanent.
I cannot emphasise enough how ‘continuity’ is the most important term when it comes to dog training. If you truly are dedicated to changing or improving your dogs behaviour – you can not ever make exceptions to your rules. It does not matter if you have had a long day, or you are in the middle of a work email – if a moment arises in which you need to correct your dog’s bad behaviour then you must do so – EVERY TIME.
If you stay patient and persistent however, the following steps should help you and your pooch massively to overcome excessive barking – regardless of the issue.
- Understand how you are feeling. Always remember that your dog will mirror how you are feeling. If you are feeling frustrated, angry, tired, or unbalanced – this will only motivate your dog to bark even more. For example: If your dog has a tendency to bark out of the window, then as I’m sure you may have realised – it is useless trying to yell at your dog from the couch while being annoyed. Your dog will feel your annoyance – and this will make him bark more.
- Yelling will almost always make your dog bark more. When you yell at your dog while he is barking – your dog mistakenly believes that you are ‘joining in’. That you are both now in unison ‘barking’ at whatever the offending issue is at hand/paw !
- Address the issue physically rather than verbally. In order to stop your dog from barking, you will need to get up off your couch. As mentioned, yelling and feeling frustrated is counter-productive. DO NOT EVER PHYSICALLY PUNISH YOUR DOG (hit, kick, push, etc.) – this will also make your dog’s barking worse. However, it is incredible what a silent powerful stance & confident stare can do. Walk towards your dog in a slow, calm, and measured manner and block your dog from the window with your body.
- Modify Negative to Positive. As with any negative behaviour, it is not enough to only show your dog what you do not want them to do. In order to permanently change a behaviour, you must show your dog what you want them to do instead. When a trigger situation is about to arise, give your dog a command – sit, lie, bed etc. Create a connection between: “When the door bell rings – this is a command for your dog to go lie in bed as he or she will get treats for doing so”.
- Is your dog getting enough physical and mental stimulation? The number 1 reason that dogs bark excessively, indoors and outdoors, is because they have too much pent up energy. Barking is a great source of amusement and release of energy when a dog does not have sufficient activities to keep his body & mind stimulated.
Always remember that as with any dog training – rewarding your dog for behaviours that you like is SO much more effective than reprimanding your dog. It can often be difficult for your dog to understand why you are correcting him – and therefore the behaviour will not change. EVERY time your dog does something that you like – reward him or her for it !
If your dog is showing serious signs of aggression when barking, then please get in touch with your vet or a dog behaviourist.
We hope we were able to be of some help 🙂
Love, Zeus & Anna 💜