Dogs bark. There’s no denying the fact that barking is a natural reaction for most canines. But sometimes, dog barking can become a problem and an annoyance. Oftentimes, owners try to stop a dog from barking in ways that fail to address long-term behavior. Examples include yelling, rewarding bad habits, or inconsistently disciplining.
When looking for a permanent solution, keep in mind that it is important for you, as the dog’s owner, to find the source of the behavior. If your dog is barking because of boredom, providing your pet with something to do may be the answer. However, if separation anxiety issues are the trigger, this may require a completely different approach.
Sometimes, the most straightforward solutions work. For dogs who have established barking as a leisure-time activity, though, a simple solution does not always work. Luckily, there are several recommendations trainers and dog behaviorists offer for dealing with your dog’s barking.
Make sure your dog has an adequate amount of physical and mental exercise before you leave in the morning. A tired dog is more likely to rest when you’re not at home. If possible, have a dog walker come to walk your dog mid-day.
A dog may bark at people or other dogs if they haven’t been socialized well enough. A dog that has had many positive experiences with all ages and types of people, including people on bikes, in wheelchairs, children, etc., is less likely to bark at them. Letting your dog meet the mailman and the UPS driver, for example, and asking them to give your dog a cookie can help.
Dog Toys and Puzzles
There are a number of interactive dog toys that will give your dog something to do. For example, treats can be placed inside a dog puzzle toy, and the dog will work to get the treats out.
A common suggestion by trainers for dogs who bark when owners are gone is to leave the dog with some familiar sounds, such as a radio or television program. The idea is that these approximate the household sounds when the owner is present. Additional steps, such as closing the blinds before you leave the house, can help by removing your dog’s opportunity to see things, such as squirrels or the mailman, that will tempt them to bark.
Teach the “Quiet” Command
A popular method of curtailing excessive barking is teaching the “quiet” command. Use a calm, firm voice to tell your dog to be “quiet” and positively reinforce correct behavior with treats and affection.
Don’t Respond to Barking Dogs
Many dogs will bark to get your attention, ask for food, or to tell you to open the door or let them out of the crate. Don’t respond. Wait until your dog is quiet to give them what they want. And be sure to recognize the behavior you want i.e. provide positive reinforcement to your dog when he’s lying down quietly.
Canine Good Citizen
The AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program is the gold standard of how dogs should behave. Not only does CGC provide great foundational training for your dog, it is also a good stepping-stone to other dog sports. Find a dog trainer near your location and take the Canine Good Citizen test with your dog.
When you have a dog, you know with certainty that they’re going to bark–whether out of fear, to be territorial, as a joyful greeting, for attention, or maybe because they’re bored. But if you feel they’re barking excessively, your best bet is to figure out the cause of the barking and address it consistently and patiently.
AKC is a participant in affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to akc.org. If you purchase a product through this article, we may receive a portion of the sale.