“Is there anything I can do about my dogs barking?”

Dogs bark, its what they do. If you never want your dog to bark again your best solution  is to remove your dogs vocal cords and end your frustration with your dogs constant yapping. For those of us that do not want to take such extreme measures here are a few tips you can implement to curb unwanted barking. 

1 )Figure out WHY your dog is barking.

Is your dog barking for attention? To demand something from you? stress? the arrival of a strangers? Boredom?  Your dog is most likely not barking just because it wants to bark, although barking for some breeds does provide a lot of reward. Your dog is trying to tell you something . Lost of dogs bark more when they are bored, or not getting enough exercise.  One cold and blustery winter afternoon Sadie was barking intensely out the window.   Upon investigation, there was a squirrel tormenting her from a nearby fence. To her this caused her  alarm to go off and she wanted everyone in the house to know it. 

2) Manage the environment. 

Find out what triggers the barking. Keep a notepad out and jot down the times when your dog barks. Close the curtains, have UPS stop ringing the doorbell. Get your dog used to settling in a crate. When I first got my chocolate lab, I lived in a condo and  every single morning at 5am he would bark in an ear piercing tone.  After much investigation and inquisition I  found out that at 5am the newspaper got delivered to the neighboring condo.  Moving his crate to the back of the house solved that incidence of barking. 

3) Resist the urge to yell  at your dog to stop barking.

When your dog is on a barking rampage he mostly likely doesn’t understand (or hear) all your reprimanding. If you reprimand your dog and he doesn’t even blink an eye in your direction, it’s pretty likely that he doesn’t have any idea you are even talking to him. A more likely scenario goes like this 

Dog: Bark Bark Bark!!!

Owner : Stop all that barking!!!! repeat 10 times

What dog hears: Blah Blah Blah… great now my owner is barking with me! Lets all bark together, BARK BARK BARK!

4) Train a positive interrupter.

Find a sound, or phrase you like such as  “This Way!” or “Quiet!” as your interrupt cue.  Find a quiet space, away from distraction to start your training. Get your dogs attention on you and say your phrase  in a  high pitched voice. Then feed him one piece of very high value treat, such as cheese, pasta or chicken, something novel, this is not the time for dry dog biscuits! Repeat until you see his eyes light up and his ears perk when you say the phrase. Practice daily in low distracting environments so your dog knows the phrase when you need it most. 

Some dogs have lots to say yet uncontrolled barking can be frustrating for any owner. If what you are doing to curb your dogs barking isn’t working, its time to try another method.