Not only can a dog that barks all the time drive its owner crazy, but it can also make the neighbors angry. While you can’t stop your dog barking completely, you can stop continual barking or the most annoying incidents.
The first thing to do is to find out when and why your dog barks. If you are at home and it happens, then it will be fairly easy to discover the reason. What if your dog only barks when you leave him? Maybe you’ve had complaints from neighbors that have alerted you to the problem. Go out but come back within ten minutes or so without coming right up to your house or apartment. Is your dog barking? If he is, perhaps he’s lonely. Dogs are pack animals and need to have their pack around them. So what can you do?
First of all, if he’s left for long periods because everybody is at work all day, you need to find some way to help him overcome his loneliness and feel secure when alone. There isn’t one method that will work with every dog, it all depends on your dog.
Make your dog a ‘den’ that is his own personal space where he can feel secure and safe. An ideal way to do this is with a dog crate. Put it somewhere quiet where it can be left up all the time. Cover the top and three sides with a blanket. Put a dog bed or blanket inside with a couple of interesting toys like a Kong. Leave the door open at all times and encourage your dog to go in by putting some of his favorite treats inside. Once he sees it as a refuge, he can retreat there when alone. Don’t force your dog to use the crate. It will only be effective if he sees it as his safe place, not his prison cell.
If you have to leave your dog for long periods, try to get somebody that your dog knows and likes to pop in and see him once or twice during the day. If that person can play with him in the garden or take him for a walk, even better. If you can afford it, you could use a dog-walker to take him out. Of course, the ideal solution would be to drop him off with somebody you can trust when you have to leave him for a whole day.
Don’t give him all his toys, choose two or three, and change them around each day unless there is one that will keep him happy for hours—something like a Kong stuffed with his favorite treats, for example.
Try to take him for a long walk or have a period of active play before leaving him. Hopefully, he’ll be happy to sleep when he gets home.
Does your dog bark when you are there but without apparent reason?
Perhaps he’s bored. Are you giving him enough attention or has he become part of the furniture? It’s difficult, when you have a busy life, to find the time to interact with your dog as much as he needs. He must be taken for walks every day and it’s something that all dog owners need to build into their routine. Play with him at other times too. Spend time grooming him. He needs company and social interaction just as much a human being needs it.
Does your dog bark when somebody walks past your house or comes to the door?
He’s guarding the pack’s territory and thinks he’s helping. First of all, make sure you are the leader of the pack because that means it’s your job to protect the pack and the den, not his.
Teach your dog a command that means he stops barking, eg Quiet. Don’t smack him or punish him in other ways for barking because he’s trying to help. On no account, shout and scream at him because he doesn’t understand English. He’ll think the noise you are making is joining in his barking to repel intruders.
You need to find a way to interrupt his barking. Put pebbles into something like a Coke can and when he starts barking, shake it hard and say “Quiet”. The noise should startle him into silence for a moment. Quickly reward him with a favorite treat and say “Good boy”. Gradually he will learn the ‘Quiet’ command and eventually you won’t need to reward him each time.
Does your dog bark at particular people?
Maybe he hates the mailman or your mother or best friend. To cure this you need that person’s co-operation. Ask them to come near your home so your dog can see them. Before he starts barking, tell him to sit, give him a special treat and tell him he’s a good boy. Next time, get your friend to come closer, repeat the command and treats. Keep doing this until the person can come right up to your dog without him barking then get that person to give him the treat.
You can buy collars that say they will stop your dog barking. It is unlikely that they will be successful. At best, they might interrupt the behavior by spraying citronella or emitting an unpleasant noise, at worse, something like a collar that administers an electric shock is painful and cruel—how can anybody do that to a creature that trusts and loves them? Addressing the causes of barking and then using behavioral techniques is far more likely to be effective.
© 2020 Sid mark