Can you stop dog barking?
I regularily visit Quora, in order to help others but also to educate myself in certain subjects. Many of the questions are regarding barking dogs. Why do they bark and can you stop dog barking and other related questions.
A barking dog can become quite a nuisance for sure, especially when you have close neighbours. Whether it’s your own dog or someone elses dog, the sound of a dog barking constantly is not a particularily pleasant sound.
I think I’d rather listen to a chainsaw droning on and on in the distance than a dog or two that does not quit barking and howling. Especially if the chainsaw was being used to create a beautiful carving right? This dog is especially quiet.
I used to own and operate a Pet Hotel, that mostly specialized in dogs. For over 23 years I endured the barking of dogs belonging to other people. Some dogs I was able to teach to minimize their barking during their visit with me if their visit was a longer one. It’s impossible to train a dog in one weekend you know ;D
I realized that many of my doggie guests were probably barking because of stress and the proximity of other dogs. For my own sanity and the peace of other pets in the building, I was persistent in discouraging excessive barking.
First, why do dogs bark?
There are many reasons and I’ll briefly go over each one.
- Fear and anxiety
- Trying to get your attention
- Too much energy to burn
Dogs don’t have the power of verbal language so they bark, growl, whine and howl to communicate their feelings. Not unlike a human baby that has not yet learned to talk.
- Fear and or anxiety caused by stress will result in barking, howling, growling and whining. The dog might be making a racket to keep a perceived danger away from him or her. A dog’s unhappiness about his situation, for instance being chained up or confined for long periods or being separated from his loved ones will result in barking too. The dog might be feeling insecure and anxious because he has no Leader.
- A dog might bark to get your attention, to go outside if he’s a house dog, or he might bark to get you to play with him or her. A dog might bark to let you know that something is wrong.
- Being territorial, barking is a way for dogs to let other dogs know, or to let strange people know, that he is the protector of his space. His space could be his kennel, the yard, your vehicle or your home. Dogs that are very territorial actually don’t perceive what they are ‘protecting’ as your property, but rather as the dog’s property!
- A guard type of dog will use barking to scare away intruders, to intimidate any other animals or people, in an effort to protect. These last two, are closely connected.
- When a dog has too much energy built up, and no way to release it, he will bark. Barking is like the steam valve on a hot water tank, eventually when pressure builds up, it has to be released or it will explode.
So many people are anxious to get their dog to stop barking
but have not really thought seriously about what causes their dog to bark excessively in the first place. Number one, get a better idea as to why your dog is barking before moving to correct the barking. The worse thing you can do is to place a no bark collar on your dog and ignore the reasons for the barking.
If the reason for your dog to bark excessively is that he or she is stressed, then figure out WHY your dog is stressed and correct it if possible. For instance, if your dog barks excessively while being kenneled or chained up, then give your dog more exercise and play time.
Same with barking because the dog has too much energy stored up. Energy needs to be released, whether it be negative energy caused by stress or simply energy stored up because of lack of exercise.
A tired dog is a quiet dog, is a well behaved dog.
I used to put certain dogs on a treadmill that were stressed due to kenneling and missing their owners. I would take the dogs out for playtime 4 times per day, rain or shine. One particular dog needed extra exercise not because of barking but because of disobedient behaviour. She would purposefully grab one of my hands in her powerful jaws or smash into me with her solid body to defy me.
I would put her on the treadmill every day during the cold winter visits and would exercise her from my riding mower during the warm months. I don’t have a quad and can no longer run with two damaged knees so I used my lawnmower tractor. Of course I did not have the blade engaged! I zoomed all over the 4 acres we have, and had her leashed to the back of the tractor.
She was so powerfully strong that I did not trust myself to hold onto the leash. After zooming around for 15-20 minutes, her negative energy was gone and she was a happy quiet dog (for a day). This tractor does not go very fast, so it was perfectly safe.
This exercise with the Lawn mowing tractor
also served to teach this particular dog that I was the Leader and she was the follower. I had to be very firm in her kennel too. I always insisted and taught dogs in my care to sit and wait at meal times. No one was allowed to eat unless I said ‘Okay’ (most dogs). There were exceptions, like very young puppies, very old dogs or simply dogs that were not guests for a long enough time to teach them this exercise.
If your dog is barking to get your attention, then determine again, why? I would suggest that you pay attention to the reason, because dogs can see and smell danger quicker than you can.
My dogs sometimes will get all riled up when they see one of our neighbour’s dogs come onto our property. If my dogs are loose on the yard, they will chase off the other dog (territorial and guarding behaviour). If my dogs are in the house looking through the window and see a stranger, whether it be dog or human (or squirrel), and begin barking, it becomes my job to take charge.
I will immediately go see what they are barking at
If I see it’s a neighbour’s dog that should not be there, I holler and chase off the dog (making sure my dogs stay secured). If it’s a person, I take charge to greet this person (or send away as the case may be). My dogs see me as someone to trust to take charge.
The other day my outdoor Christmas wreath came flying off the side of the house, off the hook where I had it anchored. It went flying past the door window and landed with a thud on the front steps. My dogs were startled, leaping up and barking with great urgency.
When I opened the door and saw the wreath, I picked it up, and told the dogs in a calm voice that every thing was okay. I gave them a quick caress of their furry heads and cleaned up the wreath. I did not make a big deal of it. They calmed down immediately and went back to their napping positions.
By this example, I showed my dogs that I appreciated their alerting me
but that ultimately, I am the leader and they can trust me to take care of things. If your dog is barking at you to get you to play ball or whatever, you can choose to play but know that if you respond to his barking in this way, then you have rewarded him for the barking. Is this what you want? It’s better to wait until the dog is quiet, before rewarding with games.
If your dog seems to be barking at everything, no doubt it’s a combination of all the above reasons. You need to reduce your dog’s stress, reduce your dog’s energy levels etc. to reduce the barking episodes. Your goal is not to eliminate all barking, but just to stop excessive barking.
Number one– Teach your dog every day, all the time, that you are the leader and can be trusted. This is done with every interaction you have with your dog or dogs. Read my post on Positively simple dog training for some examples.
Number two– Maintain a routine with meals , always feed at the same time (more or less).
Number three– make sure your dogs are given plenty of exercise every single day. You can exercise through playing fetch, or a long walk, use a treadmill, running alongside you or your bike (or a slow riding mower), or whatever physical activity you two can manage together. There are a lot of dog sports that you can try.
Our family has never owned a dog that barked excessively
I realized this recently when thinking about all the great (and not so great) dogs that we’ve had over the many years. When we had an outdoor farm dog that didn’t want to stop barking at night, we could simply go outside to make our presence known, and tell that dog in a sharp tone, to ‘quit it’, or ‘quiet’.
We recognized that our dog was probably barking for some territorial reason and not necessarily because there was a real danger. Our dogs recognized our leadership in our every day handling of them so it didn’t take much to settle them down (assuming there was no danger).
One night our dog would not settle down, and the following morning my neighbour told me that a black bear had been skulking around the neighbourhood. Her dog had chased it out of her yard. I can often tell by the tone of the barking as to how serious my dog is. One of my dogs is afraid of storms that are accompanied by thunder, so if he is barking in a high pitched voice, I know it’s because of fear. If he’s outside, I bring him inside. Problem solved.
Our house raised dogs seldom ever barked while inside the house
My customers were always amazed by this. Operating a dog grooming and dog boarding business from my house and property, naturally resulted in a lot of people ringing my door bell or pulling up in their vehicles. My dogs would come tell me by their body language that some one was at the door or on the yard, by walking towards me and back again, panting with some excitement but not barking.
They trusted me to take charge. They recognized me and other family members, as being the leaders in our family or ‘pack’. There were times I wished they would bark, especially when my door bell was not working!
A dog’s bark can be very useful, so you do not want to eliminate it entirely. A dog’s barking can alert you to danger, can protect you by warning or intimidating whomever is threatening your peace and safety. For this reason, you should not resort to anti barking collars (or shock collars) as a first resort. Anti barking collars have their use in the right hands, experienced trainers’ hands only.
I hope this post, ‘Can you stop dog barking’ can help you see things from your dog’s point of view. With some changes in how you raise your dog, minimizing your dog’s barking is achievable. You have to start with the basic foundation of respect, trust, followed by affection last. It won’t happen over night of course, but if you don’t change your methods of dealing with excessive barking, the barking will continue.
For the page How to Teach a Dog when called
For the page Healthy dog