A dog barking is completely natural and it is unreasonable for us as owners to expect our dogs to never bark. We as humans don't always appreciate it but barking is the way our dogs communicate with each other and the world. That, however, does not mean excessive barking is acceptable behavior.
But, since dogs bark for various reasons, the first thing to do is to figure out why your dog barks, at what you might consider to be the most inappropriate times. Once you know the reason behind the uncontrollable barking, you can start to treat the problem.
Once you discover the true reason for the behavior, you can begin to learn how to get a dog to stop barking. The method that you use to stop the behavior will vary depend on the reason why your dog is making the nuisance noise in the first place. Don't worry, I'll explain everything you need to know about learning how to get a dog to stop barking in this article.
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How to Get a Dog to Stop Barking
Why Do Dogs Bark?
As previously mentioned, there are many reasons why dogs bark. Sometimes it is to warn of danger, but it could also be a sign that something is wrong with your pet. WebMD explains the many reasons for dogs barking:
When your dog sees or hears something in an area your dog considers his/her territory, excessive barking will often be triggered. Your dog will look alert and even aggressive during this type of barking and the barking will often get louder as the threat gets closer. It is good to note that this type of barking is often motivated by fear or a perceived threat to their territory and people.
Uncontrolled barking might be triggered by a noise or object that catches their attention and startles them. This can happen anywhere and not just at home. If it does happen at home it could possibly be part of territorial or protective barking.
Your pet likes to greet you after not seeing you for a while. This can lead to excessive barking. It's usually a happy bark, accompanied with a wagging tail and sometimes even jumping. This is one of the areas where owners, without being aware, reward their dog for their unwanted behavior. But more on this later.
4. Attention Seeking
Your dog will bark when he wants something, be it food, water, or your attention. When learning how to get a dog to stop barking, it's important to ensure that you've met all of his needs before moving forward with treatment.
We all know dogs are social creatures and when left alone for long periods they can become bored or sad. This can lead to barking due to unhappiness.
6. Separation Anxiety/Compulsiveness
Dogs barking excessively when left alone might not just be lonely or bored but suffer from separation anxiety. They often times exhibit other symptoms such as pacing, destructiveness, depression and might even defecate in places they know they are not allowed to.
Compulsive barkers bark just to hear the sound of their own voices. As with dogs suffering from separation anxiety, they will often make repetitive movements, such as running in circles or pacing along a fence.
It is difficult to learn how to get a dog to stop barking is he has separation anxiety or barks compulsively. The help of a veterinary behaviorist should be considered. Likewise, medication may be needed to treat these issues.
7. Medical conditions
Other medical problems can also cause excessive barking. For example, a brain disease or a dog who is in chronic pain. Older pets may also develop a form of canine senility that could cause uncontrollable barking. Have your pet checked by a veterinarian to rule out any medical conditions as reasons for excessive vocalizations.
5 Tips on How to Get a Dog to Stop Barking
Getting your dog to bark less will take a lot of time and effort. You have to realize that it won't happen overnight, but luckily you have various tools at your disposable when learning how to get a dog to stop barking.
Here are five easy ways to reduce the amount of nuisance barking you have to listen to:
1. Use Sight Barriers
The easiest and quickest way to quiet down a territorial/alarm/defense barker is to manage their environment. By blocking your dog's sight line to potential barking triggers, you can stop the uncontrollable barking.
Inside your home you can simply close your blinds or install a removable plastic film that makes windows opaque to obscure your dog's view. Be sure to place the window film a few inches above your dog's line of sight. You can also buy a spray-on glass coating.
2. Doggy Quiet Zone
If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, it is a good idea to set up a safe and quiet placed for them when you aren't home. Choose a room in your home that is away from the front door and with limited distractions from the outside world. This can be a back bedroom, laundry room or spare space.
You can include a crate with comfortable bedding and a privacy cover. Other helpful things to include in the room are:
Toys: Separation barkers benefits from having something to do when you leave the house. A hard rubber toy, that dispenses treats are a great way to keep them happy, and their mouth busy with something other than barking. Just be careful that the toy is big enough not to be a chocking-hazard.
White noise machine: This machine masks exterior noises that might trigger excessive barking, and it can even produce soothing sounds for your dog.
Pheromone-based treatment: Diffusers mimic the “calming pheromones” given off by female dogs and will help soothe dogs that bark due to the stress. You might not see a dramatic shift in behaviour but keep in mind that the chemicals are milder than medication, but is an easy and affordable way to take the edge off.
3. Bark Control Gear
With technological advances, it is now possible to tech out your house to make you and your dog's life easier when it comes to excessive barking. While many choose to use anti-bark dog collars, there are also less stressful options that may work just as well. So if you're having a hard time learning how to get a dog to stop barking, maybe some of these gadgets will help:
Ultrasonic anti-bark birdhouse – This bark-deterrent devise works by emitting an ultrasonic sound that dogs find unpleasant and startles them out of barking. Reviews of ultrasonic anti-bark devices, however, are mixed, with some owners saying their dogs didn't respond at all.
Citronella spray collar – Citronella spray bark collars use a burst of citronella spray to reduce and ultimately eliminate excessive barking. They may not always be as effective but research shows that they are less harmful and cause less stress in dogs.
Stress-reducing collar – This is similar to the diffusers discussed earlier. Stress-reducing collars are loaded with soothing pheromones that will help stressed dogs calm down and reduce anxious barking.
ThunderShirt Anxiety Jacket – These vests are proven anxiety soothers. The wrap helps dogs prone to anxiety, over-stimulation, or those prone to compulsive barking, to calm down. It works by applying a gentle, constant pressure that soothes your pet.
This is not a comprehensive list and you are likely to find various other products to help you stop your dog's excessive barking. But, these are by far the most humane and also very popular among pet owners who have problems with barking dogs.
Some dog owners ‘debark' their dogs but that is a very controversial method which does not address the underlying cause of the barking. It is a surgical procedure where the voice box is removed, leaving dogs with a raspy, instead of full, bark. There are complications and the operation can be life-threatening.
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4. Barking Training
You can work with a trainer to practice desensitization techniques with your dog. It will help your pet become accustomed to barking triggers and ultimately be a worthwhile instrument in your toolkit when learning how to get a dog to stop barking. Remember, training takes consistency and patience, but the long-term rewards are worth it.
Here are a few key commands that can help control barking:
- Recall – This is perfect to call your dog away from any barking triggers like the doorbell ringing.
- Speak – This makes no sense, right? You want your dog to stop barking! Actually, training your dog to bark on command can help teach them when NOT to bark.
- Quiet – Combined with ‘speak', you can take complete control of your dog's vocalizations. Teaching your dog “quiet” will help them to calm down on cue.
- Sit/stay – This command is useful to keep your dog occupied when a barking trigger is nearby.
5. Exercise the Dog
A tired dog, is a quiet dog. Nearly every dog can do from a little extra exercise, both mentally and physically. A dog that has had a good workout will be less likely to react to barking triggers. Take the time to exercise your dog daily by going for a run or playing fetch. Mind-teaser games like “find the toy” or hide-and-seek will also tire your dog out.
Do's and Don'ts
Here are a few tips on what not to do in your efforts to end your dog's excessive barking:
- Don't yell. Speak calmly and firmly. Shouting stimulates your dog to bark more as he thinks you are joining in.
- Yelling “shut up” or “quiet” won't mean a thing to your dog unless you have trained him/her to know what it means.
- Be consistent. Encouraging your dog to bark at the door bell but reprimanding him when he barks at strangers at the door is only confusing him.
- Don't muzzle your dog to keep them quiet for long periods of time when they are alone. It can be dangerous to your pet. Your dog regulates his temperature through the mouth by panting and a muzzles prevents your dog from doing this, as well as drinking water and eating.
- Don't punish your dog if he is barking due to fright or separation anxiety. You will most likely increase his anxiety, and therefore, his barking.
- Do not intensify your dog's barking by acting excited when you get home. It is best to ignore your dog until he/she calms down and then calmly say hello.
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