The first step in any approach to stop dog barking is to understand why your dog barks. Because he can’t talk, barking allows your dog to express himself. Sometimes he may bark as a warning or because he’s afraid. Other times he may simply bark out of boredom, which can upset neighbors. Below are some common reasons why dogs bark and how you can control the behavior before it gets out of control.
Barks while you’re away
If your dog barks when you’re not at home, you probably heard about it from an irate neighbor. The problem may be caused by a fear of being left alone, or what’s known as dog separation anxiety. Once you’ve determined that it’s not separation anxiety, you can keep the peace and stop dog barking with a simple, two-part solution:
Part 1: Exercise your dog before you leave
Before you leave your house, set aside 20 to 30 minutes for exercise and obedience training. You want to wear out your dog both mentally and physically. When you’re finished, he should be too tired to bark.
Part 2: Practice coming and going
Ignore your dog for 10 minutes before you pretend to leave. Then grab your keys, open the door, and step outside. If your dog barks, go back inside. Point at him and give a firm “Shhh!” followed by a down-stay command. Leave and come back several times. Once your dog understands that you’ll return after leaving, he should stop barking. Then you can gradually increase the time you’re away.
Barking at the doorbell
It’s nice to be alerted to the presence of an intruder, but excessive barking when a friend rings the doorbell can be obnoxious. Try the following:
Stop dog barking with doorbell etiquette
Have a friend come over to ring the doorbell. While you wait for the person to arrive, put a leash on your dog. When your dog begins to bark point your finger at him and give a firm “Shhh!” followed by a down-stay command. If your dog obeys, give him praise and then greet your friend at the door. Repeat the process several times with different people. If he doesn’t obey, you can try training an alternative behavior. For example, have him retrieve a toy from his crate when he hears the doorbell. Holding a chew toy in his mouth will keep him from barking whenever there’s a visitor.
Barks for attention
If your dog barks for no other reason than to get attention, you can rely on obedience training to solve the problem.
Use rapid command sequences
You can stop your dog from barking in this case by giving him the attention he deserves. Keep his leash on and wait for him to start barking. When he does bark, grab the leash and begin a rapid sequence of obedience commands. Issue one after another for 3 to 4 minutes and be stingy with praise. Drop the leash and walk away when you feel he’s had enough. Do this a few times and your dog will think twice before he barks for attention.
As a responsible owner, you should stop dog barking when it threatens to grow out of control. But keep in mind that barking is one of the few ways your dog has to communicate with you, which makes it an essential part of your relationship with him.