Stop Your Dog From Barking
By Samantha Hamilton
Dogs bark–it’s a part of life. Sometimes barking can seem like it’s for no reason while other times it serves an acceptable purpose. Keep in mind that some dog breeds are predisposed to barking more often than others. Your focus shouldn’t just be on the barking, but on getting your dog to understand how and when to be quiet.
Dogs bark for many reasons, including:
- Being excited
- Obtaining a reaction from people or animals
- Sounding an alarm
- Warding off an intruder
You might be unknowingly reinforcing inappropriate barking. For example, if you raise your voice or yell at your dog for barking, he might think you’re joining in. Or, if you talk gently or give your dog any sort of affection for barking, he might see it as a reward or praise for his behavior.
Ignore His Barking
Fortunately, there are as many ways to address and stop the barking as there are reasons for your dog to bark. If you can stand it, one method is to ignore the barking until your dog stops and at that time you praise and reward him.
Training him to not bark is another way you can control his barking. If you’re going this route, find a small space, such as his crate or another enclosed area. With your dog, wait until he is quiet. Don’t make eye contact with him or make any sounds until he is completely quiet. Then, praise and reward him for his acceptable behavior. Providing him treats when he becomes silent teaches your dog it’s more rewarding to be quiet and focused on you than barking.
Use a Head Halter
If your dog barks when out on leash, try using a head halter. Head halters, such as a Gentle Leader, allow you to control your dog’s mouth and head, which in turn controls his entire body. You first need to get your dog accustomed to wearing the head halter. If your dog starts barking, you can gently lift the leash to softly close his mouth, move his head up and guide him into a “sit.” Your dog will switch his focus to you, allowing you to redirect his attention elsewhere and reward him.
No matter which method you use, make sure you provide exercise, spend quality time together, set boundaries for your dog and show him you appreciate his good behaviors.
As with all dog training, the behavior you want from your dog must be more rewarding than the behavior you want to eliminate. Consistency is the key as well. Once you train your dog not to bark through several training sessions, your dog will soon understand the behavior he needs to perform to receive treats.
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