Dogs bark for three main reasons:
- To alert you to new people or animals in their territory
- To communicate with you
- To relieve boredom, stress, or anxiety
These reasons beg several questions: Are you doing enough to relieve your dog's boredom, stress, and anxiety? Does your dog get enough exercise and mental stimulation? And finally, do you cause the barking yourself with loud noises and even physical or verbal threats? Each question must be both answered and addressed honestly if you truly wish to stop your dog barking.
Generally, dogs bark to let you know that someone or something strange is in the area. This can be good, as we rely on dogs to inform us of intruders or dangers. Even a small breed such as a Pekingese or a Toy Poodle can be a watchdog, and they are usually very good at it.
The key for this kind of barking is to have it controlled. Most owners would like their dog to bark in a dangerous situation, but would also like them to stop on command (especially if the neighbors start complaining!). If dogs understand that the humans in the house are in control, they will usually respect this request. This is where Alpha Dog Training is crucial. If the dog does not trust the human, or thinks that they are in control, they will often bark long after the owner as commanded them to stop. This is embarrassing and frustrating for the owner, and is the cause of many people giving up their pets.
Training your dog to stop barking on command requires patience and a good relationship between dog and owner. The dog can be allowed to bark once or twice, and then commanded to stop. If it doesn't stop try providing a distraction such as a light misting with water or a empty can filled with pebbles shaken near the dog. As soon as the dog stops, a treat and praise can be provided. The dog is then being rewarded for both barking and stopping, and is likely to continue the behavior.
As with most training activities this command is learned quicker and easier when the dog is young. Never allow the dog to bark in play for excessive amounts of time or it will start to associate barking with play, rather than with protection. Click here for more on how to stop dog barking.
Attention seeking barking
Puppies quickly learn that barking, whining and howling are sure ways to get human attention. They can also learn to bark for food, water or other treats. This behavior is learned from the owner's reaction to barking. If the humans run to the barking puppy and pick it up and cuddle it, the puppy learns that this is the best way to get attention. This carries on into adulthood, where barking is not desirable at all. Rather than giving into your puppy whining or barking, make it clear to your dog that YOU are the boss, and will reward him with attention or food only when you see fit. This will make life a lot easier for both you and your dog!
Dogs also bark to get the attention of other dogs. If you find your dog barking at the dog down the street try changing the location of the kennel or building a privacy fence that limits the dog visual range. Providing toys, activities and attention for the dog throughout the day will also help distract him or her from barking at other animals.
For more great information on this topic, click here for more great tips on how to stop dog barking.