Dogs bark to communicate. It's a natural thing. But what do you do when your dog barking loud?
We have this problem right now with Toby. He loves to look out the window to see what's happening in the neighborhood, but as soon as he sees someone, he barks like crazy. So much so that our neighbors have commented. (We joke that he looks like Gladys Kravitz, that curious person who always has the wind in his sails.)
It barks less and less, so we are looking for a way to remedy the situation as quickly as possible. After a ton of research, here are the best tips to prevent a dog from barking.
1. Teach them the quiet command
A great way to stop barking instantly is to teach your puppy the silent command. The first step is to ask your dog to do something that does not make sense at first: ask them to bark.
When they bark, you say "talk". Then, when they stop, say firmly "calm" so that they associate this word not to bark and give them a treat. Soon they will correlate the word "calm" with not barking and you can simply say the word to get them to calm down.
2. Correct the behavior
After understanding what motivates your dog to bark, the next step is to take corrective action in one form or another.
If your dog is still barking against people outside the home, close the blinds and tell them no. Or if they are barking after a walk, tear them up and reprimand them.
It gets more complicated when the dog barks for no reason. It could probably mean that they are bored or full of pent up energy. And that means it's time to exercise more. Which brings me to the next point ...
3. Stay calm and do not scream
When Toby starts to get really mad with his barking, my heart rate goes up and my first instinct is to shout at him to stop. But according to experts, it's the exact opposite of what you should do.
Why? For your dog, it seems like you're barking at their side.
As hard as it is, stay calm and keep a positive and optimistic attitude.
4. Shoot them
You would be surprised how exercise can deter barking. After all, a tired dog is a good dog, as they say.
When a dog is dead, it is less likely to bark out of boredom, frustration or accumulated energy. So make sure your dog is physically and mentally active, whether it's regular walks, dog park trips, yard games, or your dog's favorite pastime.
5. ignore it
It does not work for all dogs, but if your puppy does not stop barking and you're pretty sure he's only asking for attention, you can just ignore him.
Of course, it's a challenge if you have close neighbors within earshot. You certainly do not want to be rude, or God forbid, that the police call you.
But if your dog clearly uses the barking to get attention, do not feed him.
6. Reward your dog for a well done job
Positive reinforcement is always the way to go. So when your dog listens and stops barking, give him a treat! They will associate the behavior with something positive.
We have a container of treats on the kitchen counter so we can easily grab one if the situation calls for it. It's a lot easier and more instantaneous than having to search the drawer.
7. Watch for triggers
When does your dog usually bark? To get an idea of what is taking your dog off, watch him closely to see what's bothering him.
For example, it could be when people walk past the house. Or when they hear loud noises. Or when they do not get attention.
If you pay special attention that you have an idea of what motivates them to bark, you will be able to solve the problem.
8. Hide the sounds
Dogs often bark in response to the sounds they hear. One solution is to mask the noise with other sounds, for example by turning on the radio or playing a white noise machine.
Whenever we leave Toby at home, we put it in our room and turn on NPR. We started this so that it does not feel alone, but the noise helps to cover the sound of what is happening outside, calming it even more.
This is a very good idea for those living in an apartment or townhouse where you share walls with neighbors.
9. Distract them with a puzzle
Dogs often bark out of trouble. A deterrent is to keep them mentally stimulated. The solution: an interactive dog toy or puzzle!
I have already mentioned many times how much I loved the Buster Food Cube. You fill it with a little food and your dog has to push it with his muzzle to disperse the treats.
Another great idea is a Nina Ottosson dog puzzle. She designs toys that really mentally stimulate a dog and keep their attention for a long time.