Though barking may be an annoyance, remember that occasional barking—at appropriate times—is positive and healthy for your dog. When the barking becomes non-stop or excessive, it is important to gain control of the situation before it gets out of hand. Assess your dog’s situation and take the proper course of action from there.
Why dogs bark
What is your dog’s daily routine? Here are some reasons why she might be barking:
- Boredom. If you leave your dog outside for hours she may bark to amuse himself. In this case it may be an easy fix; try to spend more time engaging with your dog in outdoor activities to relieve her boredom.
- Separation anxiety. If you have a new dog, try to slowly build up the time you are away. Providing your dog with a crate is a good idea because she will soon see it as a safe hideaway when you are not around.
- Guarding territory. The presence of strangers, including the mailman, other dogs, or the neighbors next door, can all trigger barking.
Changing barking behavior
Sometimes it is acceptable for your dog to bark, such as when a stranger enters your home, but other times it is discouraged. Because your dog needs to learn which cases are acceptable and which are not, be consistent in your reprimanding. The folks at the Humane Society of the US recommend using a “Quiet” command, in which your dog will learn that it is OK to bark, until you command him to stop:
- When your dog begins to bark, praise her for alerting you, but follow with the “Quiet” command.
- At the same time, hold out a treat and praise her for not barking. After a few seconds of no barking, give her the treat.
- The next time she barks, require her to stop for a slightly longer period before giving the treat.
- Reward her each time she is told to stop barking and succeeds.
- If she barks even after you have issued the command, reprimand her immediately. This can be a splash of water in the face, or a very loud command of “Quiet.”
- Your dog will most likely be startled by your reaction, and…stop barking. As soon as she stops, immediately reward her.
- After enough repetitions, your dog will learn the meaning of the command, “Quiet.” Treats and training props will no longer be necessary.
- Maintain consistency and patience to get the best results. If the problem persists, you may want to consult a professional.