Besides being our companions, dogs love nothing more than barking.
Sometimes, our pets bark for good reason, like to alert us of an intruder or an injury. But, a lot of the time, our dogs are barking simply because that’s what dogs do. Barking is their form of communication, which is important to keep in mind when you train your dog to be quiet. Still, unnecessary barking can be prevented with some patience on your behalf.
But first, why is your dog barking?
There are plenty of reasons why your pup might be barking. One of them, as we already mentioned, is because they’re feeling ill. Since barking is a dog’s main way to communicate, it’s important to be attentive to these barks. If you think something is wrong, don’t hesitate to take your dog to the vet.
But there are also lots of other reasons why dogs bark. These include fear, excitement, protectiveness, and a desire for attention. Unlike barking out of pain, barking for one of these reasons can be prevented. Just remember: training may take time, but it can also improve your relationship with your pooch.
Step 1: Train yourself
As silly as it may sound, it’s important that you react to barking in the right way. You’re probably frustrated if your dog won’t stop barking. But yelling is never the right response to a bark. To dogs, yelling sounds like positive reinforcement.
Just think: if you start cheering at a concert, and then your friend starts cheering, too, you’ll probably feel good about the fact that you started the cheering. Responding to a bark with a yell only encourages your dog to bark more.
Dogs are also extremely tuned into how humans are feeling. If you’re exuding stress or aggravation when your dog barks, they may feel stressed, too. This can lead to more bad behavior. Staying calm is key to training your dog to stop barking.
Step 2: Reinforce the good behavior
With all the noise, the last thing you probably want to do is reward your pup. And that’s a sound intuition: Quieting your pup with food will only encourage them to bark more in the future. Instead, you can reward your dog for the moments he stops barking.
Sit with your dog as he barks. As soon as he stops, even if only for a minute. give your pup a treat. Be sure to keep the treats hidden, so as to not distract your dog from the lesson at hand. If he starts barking again, give him another treat once he stops. Soon your dog will start realizing that staying quiet means getting a treat.
From here, start building up the amount of time you wait to give your dog the treat. The longer your dog stays quiet before you give him the treat, the closer he is to learning to stop barking.
Step 3: Ignore the bad behavior
In the moments when your dog is barking, give him no attention. Turn away from your dog completely, cutting off communication while he barks. If you struggle to say nothing, simply tell your dog “No,” in a calm but firm voice, and return your full attention to your pup once the barking stops.
Step 4: Remove the stimulus
Dogs are reactive creatures. Whether they’re barking because they’re scared or protective, removing the stimulus can immediately stop your dog from barking. If your pet is barking at a neighbor outside, close all the blinds or put your dog in the bathroom. If your pet is barking in response to thunder or fireworks, take him to the quietest room in your house.
Another way to remove the stimulus causing your dog to bark is to create a quiet zone. This can be a wire cage with a blanket draped overhead, which acts as a stimulus-free area. While you should never leave your dog in a quiet zone for an extensive period of time, putting him in a “time out” when he becomes stimulated can help stop barking.
Step 5: Tire out your dog
Pent-up energy does not mix well with a dog who wants to bark. If you haven’t already, take your dog for a walk. Regular movement helps keep your dog calm, as does having a scheduled exercise routine. Try walking your pup at the same time every day to help him understand that he’ll always have an opportunity to get out extra energy.
Step 6: Be consistent
When training your dog not to bark in this way, consistency is key. Oftentimes, family dogs are encouraged not to bark by some members of the family while others do nothing to stop bad behavior. This can be confusing to pups, making them unlikely to respond to training.
Communicate your training method to everyone who will spend an extended period of time with your dog. With everyone on the same page about putting an end to unnecessary barks, you’ll be able to train your pooch quickly and easily.
Training your dog to stop barking can lead to better peace and quiet in your home. While the process of training requires patience, following these steps can mean improving your relationship with your pooch.