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Just because a dog won’t bite, doesn’t mean that its bark is particularly pleasant. In fact, barking can be a huge issue for some pets who do it on every occasion. Not to mention that we, as the dogs’ owners, could even have to pay a fine if our pets are causing continuous annoyance. Whether we want to avoid facing legal problems or simply wish to gain more control over our pets, we should all learn some of the best ways to stop dog barking.
In this article, we’ll talk about two approaches. One of them consists of the steps we can take to momentarily distract our four-legged friends from barking. After we talk about the quick fix solutions, we’ll discuss using obedience training to stop dog barking permanently.
However, before we get into all of that, we should understand why our beloved pets are making all of that racket in the first place.
Why Dogs Bark
If we want to stop dog barking, the first thing we have to do is figure out what is causing the behavior in the first place. Fortunately, most dogs bark for one of the following reasons.
They’re Bored (or Asking for Attention)
If our pets aren’t being challenged physically and mentally every day, they may bark out of boredom. Ultimately, our pups are animals who are natural predators — so they enjoy the thrill of the chase. That’s why dogs who live in an apartment tend to be hyperactive when you take them out for a walk.
Fortunately, there are many ways to alleviate our pups’ boredom. Puzzle toys for dogs can keep them stimulated for hours and even just putting a treat in one of those hollow chew toys could provide the challenge our dogs crave.
Even an old sock could serve this purpose if you don’t have a toy or a treat. You can put a few drops of meat juices on the sock and tie it in a knot to make it more interesting. Or you can even put a plastic water bottle in a sock and tie it off, so when the dog chews it, they’ll hear crinkling noises. They love figuring out where smells and sounds are coming from, so they’ll love this type of toy.
Ideally, you should also spend some time playing with your dog yourself. However, if you don’t have the time, your pooch will also appreciate having a new toy, even if it’s your own creation.
In addition to being bored, our pups may also bark more than usual if they feel like they haven’t received their fair share of cuddles. Some dogs just need a little more love. But if that’s the underlying problem, at least it’s easy enough to solve.
They’re Afraid (and/or Trying to Alert You)
Dogs who are especially high-strung are more likely to bark because of anxiety. We typically see this in dogs that have some abandonment issues or perhaps even a history of past abuse. However, you could just be dealing with a naturally fearful dog as well.
We can work on these issues by getting our pets used to the scary situations that are causing them to bark. For example, if a dog is barking every time another person comes into the apartment, we can practice the event over and over again until the dog realizes that there’s nothing to fear.
Although, we should also note that it’s also completely normal for dogs to bark when people knock on the door, or in response to thunder, construction, or other similar stimuli. Many dogs also bark when they’re hungry or when they perceive us to be in danger. That’s completely normal.
In fact, guard breeds often bark to let us know when something new has come into the environment. Still, there are ways to curb even this type of behavior. Instead of barking at every intrusion, our dogs can learn to simply assume a defensive position by our side. So the next time someone knocks at the door, your dog may simply come and lie down by you.
They’re Excited (or Aggressive)
Finally, the third group of reasons why you’d need to stop dog barking is if your pooch is overly excitable. Usually, our dogs tend to act more hyperactive around other dogs. However, excitement is only one side of the coin. Sometimes, it can quickly turn into aggression, especially when the dog feels as though something is infringing on its territory.
As always, we should keep an eye out for the signs of canine aggression. Barking is often the last precursor to biting. So dogs often start growling before they bark. Additionally, their whole bodies may stiffen, their ears can flatten back against their heads, and they may even show their teeth. If the dog in question has a longer coat, the hair between their shoulder blades might stand up.
Now, raised hackles may not always be a sign of aggression. Naturally, if we notice more than one of these indicators, we ought to prepare for the worst. As dog owners, we must be able to distinguish between the various types of barking in order to distract our dogs to the best of our ability. After all, if a dog starts barking, our first task will be to get it to stop. So let’s talk a bit about how we might achieve that goal.
How to Stop Dog Barking Quickly
Many experts actually recommend that we allow our dogs to bark on certain occasions. After all, barking can actually warn us of real danger in some circumstances. However, most of the time, there are more productive ways for our dogs to get our attention.
So what do we do when we need to stop dog barking post-haste? Well, usually, there are only three things we should do to nip it in the bud: stay calm, hide the stressor, and distract the dog. Here’s how you can do it.
In the moments after our dog’s bark, it’s very easy to let our frustration take over. However, it’s never a good idea to yell at a dog when it’s barking. That will only lead to more aggravation for both of you.
Dogs often take their cues from their owners, anyway. When we get angry, so do they. So in a way, we also need to train ourselves not to react so intensely to a bit of barking. Instead, we ought to remain calm and confident, and immediately go through the steps of quieting the dog.
Remove the Stimulus
Wherever we find ourselves when our pups start barking, the first thing we need to worry about is removing the stressor. Our dogs always bark for a reason (unless they’re barking because they’re bored — but we’ll get to that later). So find that reason and remove it from the equation.
If the dog is in the backyard, barking at the squirrels in the trees, we’re obviously not going to be able to chase the rodents down. Instead, move your dog to another part of the yard, fencing off the offending area until they’ve calmed down. You can even bring the dog inside the house if the stimuli outside get to be too much for their canine senses. In fact, dogs aren’t really supposed to remain unsupervised in the yard for long periods of time. Ideally, they’d be spending some time with you, so they know who’s in charge.
But what if our dogs start barking at the park? We can’t relocate them as easily in that situation. That is a trickier problem to be sure, but it’s still manageable. In this case, we can either lead the dog away from the stressor or step in front of them to temporarily block their view. However, we’d also need to immediately proceed to distraction methods. But before we talk about how you can distract your dog, let’s spend a moment discussing sight barriers and quiet zones.
As we’ve previously mentioned, when a dog starts barking during a walk, the dog owner needs to position their body to block the dog’s view. Here, we’re actually acting as a sort of sight barrier for our canine companions.
But what can we use as sight barriers when we get back home? After all, we can’t follow our dogs around all day long, hopping in front of them at the first sign of trouble.
Well, if your dog spends the majority of its life in the yard, you’ll want to make sure that it doesn’t have a clear view of the street. Our pets can get very aggravated by the passing cars and other visual stimuli outside of the yard. Fortunately, you can create an effective sight barrier by using privacy fencing to cut off the dog’s view of the street.
On the other hand, if your canine friend is in the house all day long, and it barks at every bird that flies past the window, you can use thick curtains or even an opaque window film to obscure their view.
Finally, we also wanted to mention quiet zones in this segment about removing stimuli. In situations that are especially scary for our pups, they need to have a special space that’s all their own.
A crate that’s covered with a blanket or a tucked away corner of a house would work beautifully. However, in recent years, some companies have also started developing noise-canceling kennels for dogs. These types of products would help if your dog becomes anxious around auditory stimuli like fireworks.
Introduce a Distraction
Simply obstructing the dog’s view still won’t make them stop barking. In our experience, it’ll only make them try that much harder to get around their owners and get at the thing they’re barking at.
So as soon as you’ve obscured the dog’s view, you’ll want to distract them with a challenging task to get their mind off the stressor. Most people use play to distract their pups, but getting them to respond to basic training commands can also work. The next time you see that your dog is about to bark, get in front of them, lead them away, and ask them to sit. That just might work as a short-term solution. However, if your dog’s barking is consistent, you’ll need to find a way to change their behavior entirely.
Whether you’ve decided to enroll your pooch in doggy school or train them yourself, you ought to begin by determining the cause of the barking. Watch out for common stressors or the situation in which the dog tends to bark the most. This will help us come up with the appropriate training approach to stop dog barking for good.
If your pup turns out to be a real troublemaker, you may need to work with a professional. However, the following tips are some of the same techniques a professional dog trainer might use. So if you’re willing to commit to training your dog, you won’t even need to pay for doggy school.
Consistency and Positivity
The most important thing to keep in mind if we’re embarking on private training sessions with our dogs is to keep them consistent. Once you start working with your dog, you should keep at it every day or at least every other day. Otherwise, we’ve found that dogs tend to forget all of the lessons they learned.
Also, in order to keep the dog’s interest, we want to keep the sessions upbeat. That way, your pup will consider them play, so they’ll stay more engaged.
Don’t Reward the Behavior
If you want to stop dog barking entirely, you might have to play hardball. Dogs who bark for no reason or when they’re in their crate for short periods of time are just testing your limits. Show them that you won’t respond to that kind of behavior by completely ignoring them until they’ve stopped barking.
Once the dog stops barking, you can reward them with a treat or with cuddles. Experts would suggest rewarding your dog after a few seconds of silence. When they start barking again, wait for an even longer period of silence before dispensing the rewards. You can also vary the time, so the dog doesn’t know how long they must stay calm before you give them the reward.
If you decide to try out this method, you’ll have to keep at it for some time. Remember, consistency is key!
Teach the Dog to be Quiet
Another technique they might use in doggy school to stop dog barking is the “quiet” command. In addition to teaching dogs to be quiet, a professional trainer would also teach dogs the “speak” prompt. This would indicate to the dog that there is an appropriate time for barking, not just silence.
When the dog is barking, tell it to speak, and wait for a few barks. Then, put a treat under its nose to have the dog quiet down while it sniffs it. When the dog pauses barking, give it the treat while praising them. Repeat this a few times until your pup connects the phrase to the action. After the dog learns to speak on command, getting it to relate the word “quiet” with the end of the action will be easy.
Desensitize the Dog
If you’ve narrowed down the cause of the barking, you can also work on making your dog ignore it. For example, if the dog in question barks every time you leave its sight and close the door behind you, you can practice longer and longer periods of separation.
Start when the dog feels calm. Walk over to the front door and leave the house, then wait for a few moments before going back in. You’re going to keep prolonging the separation and give the dog a treat every time it doesn’t bark. The goal here is to make the dog understand that you’re not going away forever.
Similarly, if the dog barks every time it sees another dog, exposure therapy is the way to go. When you’re walking your pup, have your friend come toward you with their pet. As soon as you can see them, start feeding your dog treats. This is a much more effective way to stop dog barking than stepping in front of your pet every time you suspect something may be distressing to them.
Teach the Dog Another Way to React
Certain training techniques could also break your dog’s habit of barking and establish a new one instead. For example, if your dog is in the habit of barking at knocks, you can teach them to go to their bed instead of tossing a treat on their mat every time someone knocks. There are many other substitute habits too. For example, instead of barking when it gets excited on walks, you can teach the dog to come to you.
Exercise the Dog
Finally, the one thing that would definitely stop dog barking for good is exercise. As we’ve mentioned, if your dog is barking because of excess energy, the easiest way to get them to stop is to give them plenty of exercises. Now, “plenty” is obviously a loaded term. After all, some breeds do require more exercise than others, and there are always exceptions for every rule. So don’t be surprised if your Basset Hound develops a need for exercise and your terrier decides to sit one out.
Naturally, when we suggest bark-control products, we don’t mean for dog owners to put shock collars on their pups. These are not only cruel but also unnecessary, with so many better options out there. For example, vibration collars are a similar concept, although they don’t hurt the dog. Instead, they work by diverting the dog’s attention to the vibrating sensation at their neck every time they bark.
There are many solutions that might stop dog barking, whether temporarily or permanently. Admittedly, the temporary fixes are much easier to implement than time-consuming training. Still, the training does has its advantages. Namely, it changes the dog’s behavior and can make them less afraid of certain stressors overall. Ultimately, deciding for an approach will be up to each individual dog owner.