There's no argument that dogs are our loyal companions that are a delight to play with. The problems arise when their incessant barking becomes excessive, which can be annoying to downright irritating for the owners and their neighbors if not remedied. First-time owners must know how to stop dog barking with command training, which is the best way to go about this issue.
As we all already know, dogs bark for many different reasons: to warn of perceived intruders, strangers or some other danger, to ask for something (“request barking”), out of excitement, or other vague whims a dog might come up with out of sheer boredom.
For the curious on why dogs bark, Kathryn Lord, PhD of Gettysburg College has done a scientific study to find the reasons for their incessant barking, and the evidence points to some very interesting and unexpected conclusions. You can read Kathryn's study and the full article here.
Dogs bark as a way of expressing themselves, since they can't talk or do sign language. If you try to listen carefully to your dog's barking, you'll find that different sounding barks have different meanings or expressions. As to how to stop dog barking, particularly with command training, some dog experts have provided great tips, which I'll cover in this article.
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How to Stop Dog Barking with Command Training
Where to begin training
Training dogs to stop barking or produce just the right amount of barking is definitely possible. In fact, majority of owners myself included find this type of “barking training” a very fun process to go through, as long as you don't mind listening to your dog's constant barks for a while.
First thing you have to do is to teach yourself how to train your dog to bark and stop barking on command. This training is actually one of the essentials for most dog trainers, since dog barking is a common behavioral issue for most pet owners.
Let's quickly review the two most common types of dog barking and how they may be controlled: request barking and watchdog barking.
Dog's Request Barking
If your dog does too much of what's been labeled as “request barking,” the first thing you need to stop doing is giving your dog what he wants until he stops what he's doing. It's the basics of dog's operant conditioning.
Your goal should be to ignore the dog until he stops barking completely.
It's hard at first, but stay patient; it's a battle between you and your pooch which you must win if you want to learn how to stop dog barking with command training fast and effectively.
Once the pooch does stop barking, go to him and give him what he wants. He'll eventually learn that excessive “request barking” is a waste of time, and will find better and quieter ways to let you know when there's something he is concerned about or needs from you.
This is pretty simple and only requires patience and consistency from the owner.
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Dog's Watchdog Barking
Dogs feel it's their duty to warn their masters when there's someone at the door. Looking at this from a perspective of thousand year long domestication process, it's always been their job.
But there are times when your dog's Spidey sense (doggy sense?) is simply off. So when your dog does warn you as he's supposed to, or does it without you wanting him to, here is how you train him to bark with a command such as “Who's there?“
Try these following steps to stop watchdog barking:
1. Ask a friend or a family member to stand outside the door or gate;
2. From inside, glance at the door and give your dog the command “Who's there?“;
3. If your dog does not bark yet, then your friend should knock on the door loud enough for you and the dog to hear;
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until your dog barks. When he does, then make him stop with a quick “Enough!” or “Okay!“;
5. If he does listen to your command, reward him with a dog treat and acknowledge his efforts.
Go through the above steps a few more times until your canine learns the game and barking on command becomes a habit. Sooner or later, your pooch will bark with the “Who's there?” command without even any knocks on the door. You will also be able to stop dog barking once he hears the command “Okay!“
Again, the process is pretty simple. The only thing you need to make sure is that you don't punish your dog in any way (ignoring is how you should “punish” him), and instead use positive reinforcement. Remember to always reward your dog with a treat for when he follows your commands, particularly in the beginning stages of this training.
Some dogs take longer to train, while others grasp this concept almost instantly. So if your pet keeps barking after you tell him to stop, just don't give him any treats. He'll quickly realize that any further barks won't get him what he wants, and will realize that it's not worth the effort.
Tools to Stop Dog Barking
Some dog trainers recommend resorting to using dog training collars in those case, and using them in the safest way possible. These methods remain controversial, but they do work and they CAN be very safe for dogs.
If you happen to have a dog that barks incessantly and simply does not respond to command training, you have two options: hire a professional dog trainer, which is expensive but may (or may not) fix the issue, or get yourself a high-quality, safe dog bark collar and learn how to stop dog barking using this method.
For those opposed to using training dog collars, I recommend reading Samantha's extensive interview with a well-known and experienced dog trainer on why shock collars aren't as bad as many owners believe them to be, and how to use these devices safely and effectively.
Here's some more reading for owners considering or opposing training dogs using electronic collars:
- How to Use Shock Collars in a Humane Fashion
- Myths and Facts About Electric Dog Collars
- No More Pain: Alternatives to Dog Shock Collars
- Safety of Electronic Dog Training Collars
- What to Know About Humane Collars
Ultimately, the same dog training procedure using commands can be modified to teach your dog for many other reasons or fix other behavioral problems in dogs. One thing you must consider is how this type of dog training can impact your pet's social skills towards guests and strangers. But every dog is different, and it comes with practice.
3 Additional Tips to Stop Dog Barking
Command training is probably the best method to stop dog barking, but there are other additional ways that you can supplement this training with. These methods pertain more to the reasons why your dog barks which differ by dog breeds, and once you figure that out, you may be able to stop a dog from barking quicker.
1. Exercise Your Dog
Dog trainers say that boredom and lack of activity for dogs could result in them barking excessively. There's a cool brochure made by trainers from Windham City with a list of reasons and solutions to dog barking (download PDF here).
In short, there's a lot of dog breeds are innately active and need some type of activity in their day. Stagnant state can make them bored.
Exercise will keep dogs busy which is supposed to be their natural environment. Maybe try some agility training with your pet, or find other interesting ventures.
To help yourself stop dog barking quick, find a free minute, grab something to snack on and go for a run with your dog, or play a game of fetch in the dog park. There's plenty of things you can do to exercise your dog and have fun at the same time, even when it's not yet the time to take him out for a walk.
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2. Train Your Dog
On top of your command training to stop dog barking, trainers recommend owners to generally include regular dog training procedures for other reasons as well (PDF). Training your dog consistently will get him used to listening to you at all times.
On top of that, regular dog training accounts for some activity and mental stimulation for the dog. It prevents boredom and gives both of you time to bond. The less time there is for your dog to spend by himself, the smaller the chances that he'll bark for no reason.
If you're done with your command training, or you and your pooch are getting bored with it, then there's plenty of other dog training goals you can put on your to-do list. Majority of these training exercises are fun to do. And not only will this help to prevent your dog from bark incessantly, but you'll also end up having a well-trained and better behaved canine.
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3. Express Affection Towards Your Dog
If you're using command training, then ask them to “hush!” in a calm, soft, but firm voice. Shouting at them to “SHUT UP YOU STUPID ANIMAL!” will only stimulate the dog to bark more as they think you are joining the club.
Studies have repeatedly shown that positive reinforcement and using calm but firm voice is the most effective way to train dogs. This doesn't only apply to training dogs to stop barking, but most other training methods and techniques as well.
Try to patiently wait (ignoring the pet) until your dog stops barking and gently treat them with affection as soon as they do stop. This will finally make your dog understand that if he discontinues the noise at the command “hush!”, he gets attention and affection.
Ultimately, training a dog to stop barking is not a short-term process for majority of canines. First, you'll need to teach yourself how to do the training properly, and then it may take anywhere from a few weeks to several months for your pooch to grasp what's going on.
As long as you have patience, love for your pet and stay consistent with your training, you will soon find a way to communicate better with him and the training process should become easier.