It is not practical to expect a dog to stop barking completely. It is a natural behaviour and some breeds are more prone to it than others.
As a member of your pack, your dog feels that it is his job to protect you. If he hears a noise which he can’t explain he will bark to alert you to possible danger.
When Darcy barks I go over to the window or door and say ‘Everything’s fine, now quiet’ and he (usually) stops barking. He interprets the body language and words as ‘Thanks for letting me know, I’ve checked, everything’s fine, no need for any more noise’
It is important to understand why your dog is barking because only then can you find the solution.
Does your dog bark at passers-by?
When he is left alone?
At the postman?
Each one of these issues needs to addressed differently.
Reasons for barking could include:
Ways to stop barking
Positive reinforcement is always a good way to stop a dog from doing something that he shouldn’t. The idea is to reward good behaviour and get the dog to make this behaviour a habit.
Distraction is also a good way to stop barking. Simply use a special toy or treat to take the dogs attention away from whatever he is barking at.
Teach the commands ‘bark’ and ‘quiet‘. This way the dog will know exactly what to do and knows there will be a treat for complying.
Re-enforce the quiet command by touching your mouth at the same time. Dogs pick up on body language more than speech so he may relate to this more.
Don’t raise your voice to tell a dog to be quiet. From his point of view, you are simply joining in and making the barking acceptable.
Take the dog for a walk before you leave the house. He will be physically and mentally tired so less likely to bark through boredom or to attract attention.
Limit access to areas where the dog is likely to bark eg windows. or the front door. Keep blinds closed on windows where the dog has access and install solid paneling in the garden to reduce sight triggers.
Never reward barking. If the dog barks to go out and as a result, you let him out you are rewarding him for barking. Train him to stand in a certain spot or even ring a bell to let you know he needs to go out.
Give the dog a quiet area and train him to go to that place on command. It might be a comfortable crate or cosy bed. Make sure that everyone knows that is his place and he is never to be disturbed intentionally.
Instill into the dog that his special place is where he is ‘off duty’. It is a place to sleep, enjoy a nice bone or play with a toy. Crates can be covered with a blanket to make the dog feel more secure and also to block out visual triggers.
For more information about Crate Training, please read here.
Repetition. Try to desensitize the dog by recording trigger sounds and playing them back to the dog. Reward when the dog ignores the noise.
For separation anxiety barking, practice walking in and out of the house. The dog needs to know that if you leave you will always come back. In addition, don’t make a fuss of the dog when leaving or returning, make him think this is completely normal.
Consider putting an anxiety coat like a Thundershirt on your dog when he is likely to bark eg fireworks, thunderstorms or when you have guests.
Try Adaptil pheromone spray to keep the dog calm.
Here is my personal story of living with a dog who likes to bark constantly.
Thank you for reading.