Barking is a completely natural behavior for dogs, but we humans don’t always appreciate it. In your dog’s mind, however, there’s a good reason to bark, so the first thing to do is figure out why she wants to bark in what you consider the most inappropriate times.
If you aren’t home while the barking is going on, you may need to stage a scenario over the weekend to figure it out. Pretend that you are leaving and then come back to spy on the dog.
What is Your Dog Barking at?
Does she bark at every movement she sees through the window and every sound she hears? An easy fix for this is to simply block the view. Close the shades. Confine her to a part of the house that doesn’t have windows she can see through or if she stays outside in a fenced-in yard, keep her indoors rather than leaving her outside all day. She won’t bark at what she does not see. Play some music or the television, loud enough to cover outside noises.
If the dog seems to be barking at nothing, he’s likely bored. Boredom, due to lack of exercise and mental stimulation, is probably the biggest reason for excessive barking. Think honestly about whether your dog is getting enough. How would you feel if you were locked up at home all day with no cell phone, tablet, computer or even television? Not even a book to read. You’d get bored pretty fast.
A young, energetic dog craves lots of exercise and attention from you. Thirty minutes to an hour of vigorous exercise in the morning will go a long way toward helping your dog settle down. For the first few weeks, you may need to have someone come over at lunch to exercise him again.
Food puzzle toys and hollow rubber toys that can be stuffed with treats are great entertainment for dogs. They give your dog something fun to do while you are gone. Keep a couple on hand so you can leave one for him every day. It’s okay if he gets most of his meals this way. He’s working for his food!
Does your dog bark for attention? Don’t give him any! None at all – even stern reprimands count as attention. He has no idea what “quiet” means; yelling “quiet!” will only make it worse. He’ll think you’re joining in the barking game. Reward him with your attention when he’s calm and not barking. Teach a cue for being quiet. It’s a good trick to have in your dog’s bag for when he’s out with you and barking isn’t welcome.
Here’s How to Teach Your Dog a Cue To Stop Barking:
Have some high-value treats ready – small and soft so they can be eaten quickly. While the dog is barking, just wait for her to stop. When she does stop, wait a beat, praise, and give her a treat. Gradually increase the time she must be quiet before rewarding her. If she starts barking, take a few steps backward and make the duration less. Once she seems to be understanding, add a word – hush, quiet, whatever works for you. Be consistent.
It is unreasonable to expect your dog to never bark as barking is the way they communicate with the world, but you can teach her some control.