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How to Teach a Dog to Stop Barking

Jul 23, 2008
Hearing a dog happily barking as it chases after a ball in the woods can be a wonderful sound, but if the neighbors are complaining and you and your family are suffering from having a dog that barks constantly that you cannot control, you will probably want to learn how to teach a dog to stop barking.

The first thing to consider is why the dog is barking so much. A normal puppy or young adult dog is like a baby in that it will bark when it wants attention or has a need, for example if it is hungry or thirsty, wants to poop or needs exercise. With most dogs, if you figure out what they want, you can supply it and that is the end of the problem.

But some dogs bark a lot more than this. This is most likely if they are either kept in the house alone all day when you are at work, or if they are not getting enough exercise.

In the case of exercise, maybe you are not able to walk a big dog as often or for as long as it needs it. You could be sick or not have time, or in some climates it may be difficult to get out a lot in winter.

Letting the dog in the backyard will probably not be enough. It knows the backyard too well and there are not enough new and interesting sights and scents to keep it occupied. Instead, consider hiring a dog walking service.

Some dogs will bark whenever they see or sense someone approaching. This is what is known as 'reactive barking': barking as a reaction to events.

If a dog barks reactively, it is often because the dog has learnt to act as a guard dog in the past. If you have an adult dog it could have been trained to do this from a puppy by a previous owner. Perhaps it used to live in an isolated area and was rewarded for barking whenever there was a noise outside. If you live in a city, this will mean a lot of barking!

If the dog is used to being rewarded for barking and has been specially trained to do it, it will not understand that you do not welcome the noise. In this situation you may have to consider finding another home for the dog - or moving out of town yourself!

Another possibility is that as a puppy it learned this behavior from adult dogs and has simply never been taught not to bark. In this situation you may have more success. You can train it to be quiet in the same way you would train it to do anything else: use the command 'Quiet!' and always reward for obedience.

Remembering to reward the dog for being quiet is difficult because it is a non-behavior: instead of doing something that demands your attention and a reward, like fetching back a ball, it is not doing something. It is easy for you to give a sigh of relief at the sudden silence and move on. But it is vital to remember the reward; otherwise the training will never be successful.

If the dog is alone in the house all day while you work, it is not surprising that it gets bored. Dogs love company and leaving a dog alone for 10 hours a day, as many people do, are sure to have an effect. If it wasn't barking it would probably be either tearing the furniture apart or becoming seriously depressed. So what can you do to stop your lonely barking dog from driving the neighbours crazy?

First, the dog walking service is something that you might want to consider in this situation too. You will need to find a service that you trust enough to give them a key to the house. Then they can come when you are not home, pick up the dog and take it walking. This will break up the dog's day and make it much more accepting of the times that it is left alone. You want to make sure that the service will walk the dog as close to the middle of the day as possible.

Other things that you can do to keep the dog calm while you are working:

* Close the drapes or shades. The best is to have shades or shutters that the dog cannot get behind. This will keep their focus indoors, so they do not look out the window barking at everything that moves outside. But this will increase boredom so it is not enough by itself.

* Get another pet, either a cat or another dog. Even an aquarium can help to keep the dog interested.

* If you leave the television on low then your dog will have the moving pictures to break up the monotony.

A dog that barks at every little thing that happens, even when you are home, may have a problem - for example if it barks every time that you stand up or sit down. This is abnormal behavior and could be due to a difficult early life (especially if it is a rescue dog) or some physical condition or illness. You should see a veterinarian in this case, because you probably will not be able to teach the dog to stop barking by yourself.
About the Author
Jayne Waldorf invites you to visit http://www.caredfordogs.com today to download your free gift "Dog Care by David & Shery Russ". Jaynes' web site includes information covering the following subjects -All about dogs, Dog training, Dog Health, Dog food secrets, Dog dieting, Dog biting and much more.
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