Dog barking is stressful for everyone and can cause a dog to be rehomed or a parent to be evicted or fined. It surely isn’t a way to make friends with neighbors. Dog barking can also lead to dog biting and other dog aggression issues. It is mandatory to stop dog barking not with a punitive dog bark collar but instead with positive reinforcement dog training.
Hearing loud, abrupt, sharp, and continuous noise is startling, and chronic dog barking can be damaging to one’s mental, physical, and emotional health. Lowering the immune system and making a dog and person more susceptible to disease and sickness.
Getting rid of a dog barking completely is not likely and just as unhealthy as chronic barking. Dogs use auditory signals to communicate with one another and to express their emotions. Many dogs are bred to bark to alert others about their findings or to signal others.
But first, before we get to the solution on how to get a dog to stop barking, we have to know why your dog is barking. In order to stop dog barking, we first have to examine why your dog is barking in the first place. Healthy dogs don’t bark incessantly. In fact, many dogs and breeds are specifically bred to bark to alert a person of an intruder, someone in their home, or in a dog’s territory. Also, dogs bark because it is a natural, enjoyable, and self-rewarding behavior. Here are some other reasons dogs bark.
You are likely not reading this article if your dog barks once in a while, you are here because your dog barks all the time or seemingly non-stop.
First things first, is to get your dog a full medical exam to make sure your dog has a clean bill of health and to rule out chronic pain, illness, or barking caused by old age or separation anxiety. Each one of these would have a potential different dog training solution to get your dog to stop barking. Dog Barking is often a complex contextual behavior done only in certain situations or environments. Dog barking is healthy, however, a dog that incessantly bark is not healthy and is very stressful for your dog.
Learn How to Stop Dog Barking From Expert Certified Dog Behaviorists
If you focus on enriching your dog as mentioned above, this will likely reduce your dog’s barking considerably!
However, in order to operantly train your dog not to bark follow these instructions. Ironically and perhaps counterintuitively, for dogs that bark all the time, we first need to train your dog to bark. I know, sounds crazy but hear me out. Barking is great fun when it is taught to a dog. Many parents are shocked to learn that in order to train a dog to stop barking sometimes it is appropriate and much easier to reward them for barking! Why in the world would I want to reward my dog for barking? Well, after you put that behavior (barking) on cue you simply ask for it much less! Notice I didn’t say you never ask for it again. It is healthy, appropriate, and important for a dog to have a constructive outlet to bark, but having barking under “control” or on discriminative cue is much healthier and easier to live with than a dog who decides when they want to bark. I would rather you choose when you want your dog to bark, not the dog. A discriminative stimulus is any event in the presence of which a target behavior is likely to have consequences that affect its frequency.
After you put the discriminating stimulus (barking) on cue, you ONLY reward the dog barking when you ask for it, and not at other times. Putting a cue on stimulus control works magic because now your dog is getting rewarded for barking. If your dog barks without you asking him to then you simply ignore your dog as if they do not exist.
Then, after a barking lul ask your dog to do an alternative behavior that is incompatible with barking, such as tug of war, scavenging for food, playing with chew toys, licking peanut butter out of food stuffed Kong toy, etc. For the example below let’s assume we are going to name the verbal cue, Speak. Let’s also assume you have already charged/conditioned a marker/clicker (sound or word) so that your dog understands you and you are communicating efficiently and effectively. For this example, I will use the marker, Yes.
Voila, now you have a dog that doesn’t bark. However, mind these dog barking training caveats.
Your dog is a unique individual and each case is contextual and situational. It is impossible to give across-the-board expert behavioral advice about any dog behavior, yet teaching a dog what you want from them through positive reinforcement obedience training in conjunction with understanding why your dog is barking and moving further away from the antecedent that may be arousing your puppy is a good start. A counterconditioning and desensitization protocol in conjunction with an understanding of ethology and obedience training would help stop a dog from barking and more importantly stop a dog from wanting to bark while teaching them an alternative behavior such as Quiet. If you are still having trouble or have a unique situation, call someone such as ourselves who are certified fear free trainers and behaviorists with years of modifying dog behaviors.
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