Barking is an entirely normal and expected behavior in dogs of all ages. Still, a dog that barks constantly is a nuisance to you and your neighbors and can be a sign of a dog that isn’t well-trained or is not getting its needs met in appropriate ways. Today, we’re discussing how to eliminate excessive barking in dogs and puppies alike, as well as how you can figure out why your precious furball is yapping, yodeling, or yelping around the clock.
Barking for Attention
When we pick up a new puppy or adopt an older dog, we’re more likely to think everything they do is adorable. When your dog first began barking, you likely began to interact with him. You may have looked at him, talked to him, or thrown him a toy to distract him. Because dogs learn best through reinforcement, these actions quickly trained him to bark for your attention.
The first step is ignoring your dog when he barks for your attention. This means not yelling, not calling his name, and not throwing him a toy.
Instead, you’re going to train your dog to perform a different behavior when he wants you to look at him, play with him, or talk to him. For example, you may teach your dog to sit instead of bark.
You’ll want to teach sitting as a separate behavior. Reward him with high value treats and praise. Next, when he begins to sit on his own, offer premium-value treats, attention, and a play session.
Once this connection has been made, interrupt your dog’s next barking session with a command to sit. Don’t offer praise and treats until he is sitting quietly.
When Barking for Attention is a Good Thing
A dog or puppy who needs to go outside for a potty break is doing a great thing by barking to be let outside. This behavior should be rewarded with an encouragement and prompt action.
Alert and Alarm Barking
Most dog breeds will bark to let you know that they see, hear, or smell someone or something approaching your home or hear a dog barking within earshot—which, for a dog, can be a long way away!
Even though you appreciate your dog functioning as a watchdog, you may have a dog who barks at anything and everything, in which case training is required to modulate this response. Whether you live in an apartment or on a country property, there’s a limit to how much barking you can tolerate.
You can teach your dog to go silent after a bark or two at your command. Contact All Dogs Unleashed to schedule a training session for you and your dog if you would like to pursue this timing-sensitive approach.
To get started fixing this issue on your own, close your curtains to prevent your dog from seeing human and canine passersby. If your dog is still barking at noises, add a loud fan or white noise machine to muffle outside sounds.
Over time, you can use desensitization and reconditioning measures to train your dog to remain calm when her barking triggers are seen or heard. This is accomplished in three parts:
- Keep your curtains closed and noises muffled when you aren’t actively in a training session.
- Prepare high value treats when it’s time to train. Add a clicker if you’re pursuing clicker training.
- When you see your dog tense at a sight or sound that normally triggers her to bark, click and offer a treat before she makes a sound. If you’re not using a clicker, the command “quiet” or “wait” may be used.
By repeating this process often, your dog will soon learn that waiting quietly is the best way to please you.
We’ve only scratched the surface of the reasons dogs bark. Just remember that the best-behaved dogs have been walked or run, played with, given obedience training, and are ready to rest and relax!
Contact All Dogs Unleashed today for assistance with training your very vocal dog.