Barking is a natural form of communication for dogs, but sometimes it can cause serious problems, especially if it becomes excessive or stems from negative behaviors. The key to curb your dog’s barking is understanding why your dog is doing it and then developing a plan of action to deal with that specific problem. Keep these tips in mind while trying to eliminate problem barking:
- Stay Calm
Shouting at a barking dog can have the opposite of its intended effect, since many dogs will simply think you are joining in with them. The first step to stopping a dog from barking is to stay calm, assess the situation, and deal with it in a firm manner that communicates dominance. If the owner is angry or frustrated, there is a good chance that the dog will mirror those feelings.
2. Develop a “Quiet” Command
While it may seem counterproductive, one way to stop unwanted barking is to teach your dog how to bark on command. By teaching a dog to “speak,” the owner makes a distinction between when barking is allowed and when it is not. Afterward, you can teach your dog to stop barking by creating a “quiet” command. Have the dog bark, and then tell the dog to be quiet. When it stops barking, wait a few seconds, and then reward the dog with a treat and praise. This helps the owner stop unwanted barking on command and establishes control over the barking.
3. Provide More Exercise
More often than not, barking is a problem behavior that arises when a dog has too much pent-up energy. This is especially true of larger breeds bred for herding or other work, since many owners do not have the time or necessary space to provide enough energy. Whenever possible, exercise your dog both physically and mentally. Sometimes a bit of extra exercise each day can stop unwanted barking altogether!
4. Remove the Stimulus
Many times, dogs bark for a specific reason, and in these cases it is usually possible to remove the stimulus or separate the dog from it. For instance, if a dog barks at people walking outside, closing the curtains, putting the dog in a different room, or telling the dog to lie down all communicate that the behavior is unacceptable. This prevents the dog from having access to whatever is causing the barking and teaches it that its owner does not approve of barking in that particular scenario.
5. Get Professional Help
Occasionally, a dog’s barking may stem from some issue that cannot be corrected by the owner. It may be that a dog was poorly socialized as a puppy, suffered from some kind of abuse, or has a legitimate medical issue. In these cases it may be required to contact a behavioral specialist that has been highly trained in identifying and correcting such issues in order to change the dog’s behavior. Just like people, not all problems a dog has can be fixed at home, so use professional care as a last resort if no other methods seem to be working.
While there is no guarantee that any particular strategy above will stop a dog from barking, all of these tactics can be very successful. By applying these tips, a dog’s owner can establish dominance and more effectively communicate with their pet, helping to cut down on problematic behavior.
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