All dogs can bark. Even the “barkless” dog, the Basenji, lets out a yodel-like howl that could put some barking dogs to shame. Regardless of when and where it happens, most pet owners are keen to put a stop to repetitive barking. In this case, training is more about controlling and stopping a behavior than it is teaching the dog to do something new.
Controlling your pet’s barking involves a lot more than just teaching your dog a “quiet” command. Our sister facility Morris K9 Campus, and professional dog trainer Christine Hibbard, delve into the different causes and types of barking on their blogs, “A Dog’s Life” and “Behind the Behavior.” The first step in training this behavior, they both agree, is to figure out what triggers the barking. Once you figure out what category your dog fits into, you can proceed to train them around that particular type of barking.
Alert Barking: Say your dog sees something out the window or hears a knock at the door and starts to bark. This is your dog’s way of alerting you to something out of the ordinary that they see or hear. This type of barking is often the least frowned-upon by pet owners; we all want our dogs to let us know when someone is approaching, right? Instead of scolding your dog, you can thank them for the initial bark but reward them for quietly coming to your side afterwards. Christine Hibbard elaborates on her blog with more on this type of alert barking training.
“Give Me That” Demand Barking: Whether they want you to play, feed them or take them for a walk, some dogs try to get your attention by barking. Responding to this at all, even with a punishment, actually enforces the idea that barking for attention works. Instead, you can ignore your dog’s barking or give them attention before or after barking starts and stops. Read more on “Give Me That” Barking on the Morris K9 Campus blog.
Separation Anxiety/Distress Barking: If your dog barks when left home alone, they could be experiencing a type of separation anxiety. The first thing to do is set up a camera or webcam to record and watch your dog’s exact behavior. Then you can try using a puzzle toy to feed them while you are away instead of feeding them in a dish when you get home. This may prove a distraction for your dog, as would many other toys, like a treat-stuffed Kong.
Fear Barking/Conflict Behavior Barking: Dogs will bark in an uncomfortable situation when they are confused or unsure. Whether the cause is a person, strange environment or other dog, move away from whatever it is that caused the reaction. This helps teach your dog that they don’t have to respond in an emotional or angry way in order to get their point across.
Frustration Barking: A squirrel, a neighbor’s dog or a car driving innocently down the street can all set a dog off. More than out of distress, this type of barking is how your dog expresses frustration at their inability to “get” the thing that they can see. This type of barking is best addressed once you know the exact cause. Training at a facility like Morris K9 Campus can pinpoint your dog’s frustration and help teach them to turn away from the stimuli if you give them a command.
We also have manners training here at Morris Animal Inn to help reinforce commands like sit, down and stay. A well trained dog will respond best to all of the barking training methods, and will lead to a peaceful, nearly “barkless” home!