"Let the sleeping dogs lie..."
Most of us would like to complete this phrase by adding: "or else they will bark!!" Barking is a very common trait of dogs and one we cannot get rid of it. But, we CAN control the barking. Here is some priceless stop barking advice that will solve you and your neighbors' annoyance with a dog that never stops barking!
Consistency in disciplining your dog is, as always, the key to success. If you consistently make it clear to your dog, using language he or she will understand, when barking is unacceptable and when it is not, you should be able to control your dog's barking.
Inconsistency, on the other hand, will lead to failure and more annoyance for you, your family, and neighbors!
- Avoid admonishing your dog for barking. Only admonish it for disobeying the command to be quiet. But the second it obeys, praise warmly.
- Take your dog for regular walks and exercise. A main cause of dog barking is boredom, loneliness or nervousness, all of which emanate from being left alone. This is often referred as separation anxiety.
- Give your dog puzzle games so he gets "mental" exercise. This is very important, and especially helpful for busy owners who don't always (if ever) have time to challenge their dog's brain. Give your dog a hollow plastic toy filled with peanut butter or dog biscuits, to play with while you're gone; this will keep him busy (and satisfy his appetite!) for hours on end.
- Desensitize your dog to the source of his excitement. Say your dog is frightened by the vacuum cleaner or law mower. Rather than encourage his excitement with words like "It's ok, don't worry" (which will worsen the problem) or "Shut up!" (which will just create frustration and fear in your dog), feed him in front of the source, while the motor or vacuum cleaner is running. Your dog will eventually associate an otherwise negative and fearful thing, with the positive act of receiving food. Not only will your dog stop barking more and more, but he will have renewed confidence that will prevent further problems.
- Make a sharp sound that's at least twice as loud as his barking. This will only work if your dog is barking to get your attention or is bored. Clang two cooking pots together or even use an air horn. This will startle your dog into realizing barking is bad; he will connect the loud sound with his bad behavior. IMPORTANT NOTE: If your dog barks because he is distressed or fearful, DO NOT use this method; it will only compound his stress and increase the barking.
- Finally, you can always purchase bark collars or citronella collars. Bark collars use a noise deterrent to shut your dog up; citronella collars spray a pungent but harmless chemical that dogs dislike. Both are available at most pet stores, and do not harm your dog. However, do avoid shock collars as they are inhumane and impractical.