How to stop a dog from barking got the most canine topic votes on my informal Facebook poll (stay tuned for a cat-centric one, too!). See, I want my next big project (an on demand pet behavior course) to answer YOUR must-know questions.
So here’s your turn. Fill in the blank in the comments: “I wish I knew how to fix my cat/dog’s (…..)”
WHY DOGS BARK
On Facebook, some of the comments were very specific. Some of these included:
- barking at motorcycles and skateboards (bicycles are a biggie, and so are joggers!)
- barking at doorbells
- barking at doorbells on TV
- barking at other dogs
- barking in the back yard
- barking when (known) visitors arrive
The key to stop dogs barking is to understand why the dog barks. There’s no single answer, but in all cases, the dog is REWARDED (gets something s/he wants) out of the barking. It’s a simple cause/effect situation. Take a look again at the above complaints, and see where they might fit in this list of some common barking reasons. And then, ask yourself–how do I respond to the barking?
- Play bark (“Gotta shout about the game!”)
- Howdy-do bark (“Nice to see you.”)
- Defensive bark (“I’m scared, go away.”)
- Offensive bark (“It’s MY property, don’t come near!”)
- Fire alarm bark (“warning, Will Robinson!”)
- “Look at that!” bark (strangers, friends, garbage truck, your new hat, SQUIRREL!)
- Boredom bark (“Come entertain me…”)
- Lonely (“Poor me.”)
Personally, I want my Magical-Dawg to bark. You should want YOUR dog to bark, too–at the appropriate times. I don’t want him silent when that burglar prowls outside. So after several barks, he gets praise and then a treat (and it’s hard for dogs to bark while chewing).
HOW TO STOP A DOG FROM BARKING
How do you stop barking? It sounds counter-intuitive, but to teach dogs to SHUSH you must first teach them to SPEAK on command. Here’s how.
- Set up “trigger” situations with the doorbell, a friendly visitor, or whatever gets the bark-aholic going.
- Just as the doorbell rings, say “SPEAK.”
- When the dog barks, praise him and offer a toy or treat or whatever floats his boat as a reward.
It will take several repeats before your dog recognizes that the command SPEAK means permission to yap. Practice this (even without the doorbell), and for the first several days ALWAYS reward the dog with a yummy or fun game he loves. Once the lightbulb goes off in his furry noggin, and he recognizes he gets PAID to bark on command, he’ll be eager to win your approval with this new skill.
Once he will SPEAK on command, it’s time to teach SHUSH. That’s easy–after he’s barked, do NOT give him the reward, but instead say SHUSH…and hold out the treat in your closed fist. Dogs stop barking to sniff and chew, so that typically stops the noise mid-yap. Give him the treat, while repeating GOOD SHUSH, while he chomps the yummy.
Again, it will take several repeats, but that’s the basics. You’ll slowly expand the amount of time he must SHUSH in order to earn the treat. Once your dog knows both SPEAK and SHUSH, you’ll be ready to move on to practice in the specific circumstances that are most bothersome.
I’d love to help you stop your dog barking, with more prescriptive how-to tips. Stay tuned for the FREE WEBINAR announcement and details about the forthcoming on-demand series.
Meanwhile, don’t forget to get YOUR biggest pets peeves on my list. Fill in the blank in the comments: “I wish I knew how to fix my cat/dog’s (…..)”
I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!