Dogs bark. It's a fact of life. Unfortunately, our furry family members can be quite bothersome with their barking by disturbing your sleep or causing the neighbors to complain. The good news is that there is hope if your animal barks. Once you know why your dog is barking, you can effectively address it. Here we explain why dogs bark and how to get a dog to stop barking.
Why Do Dogs Bark?
Dogs bark as a way to communicate with us and with each other. It can be a warning to you or an intruder, as well as a way to play.
Protective barking occurs when an animal or a person comes into your dog's "zone" or territory. As they get closer, your dog is likely to keep barking and may increase in their barking behavior. They may look aggressive at the same time. Some dogs bark out of fear or loneliness, particularly barking at an object or animal that catches their attention.
If your dog wants to play, they will probably greet you with a bark. This communication is also common when you come home from a long day at the office, after all, they are happy to see you. Some dogs will bark to get your attention, trying to get let out of the crate, go outside, or even get a treat.
A general problem behavior with barking is when your dog compulsively barks. They may do this because they are anxious, especially with separation anxiety. They may exhibit repetitive behaviors, such as pacing or running in circles. Anxious dogs may be depressed or destructive as well.
Tips on How to Get Your Dog to Stop Barking
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for a barking dog. They need training and it takes time to get them to stop. There are a few key points to keep in mind, as well. Yelling at your dog is a lot like barking and they are likely to think you are just joining in if you raise your voice at them. Instead, speak calmly and firmly to get them to stop. You are also going to want to teach your dog a cue, such as "quiet" rather than shouting insults or to just "shut up."
Choosing a Training Collar
While a bark collar or a training collar seems like a quick fix, it does not address the underlying reason for why your dog is barking. If you use one, make sure to also work on training. There are a wide range of training collars for dogs, including those that release a citronella scent as a deterrent, so you do not need to go with an option that might shock or jolt your dog.
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Using Proper Training Commands
For dog training purposes, remember patience is key. When your dog starts barking, give them your cue ("quiet") with a hand gesture, such as putting your finger to your lips. This can help some dogs as they may pick up visual cues faster than verbalized ones. When your dog stops barking, immediately reward them. It can be with a treat, a toy, or lots of praise, but it needs to be something highly valuable to them. The most important thing to keep in mind about this is that you cannot reward your dog while they are barking, or you will just be reinforcing that “bad” behavior.
Another option that some people take when training their dogs is to start by teaching your dog to "speak" and rewarding them when they do that. Once they are "speaking" regularly and reliably, you can work on teaching them the "quiet" command. Especially if you choose this route, you want to practice with your dog when they are quiet and calm, rather than overly excited.
Dogs Barking and Health Concerns
If your dog is excessively barking, you should have them examined by a veterinarian. Certain health conditions can make them more prone to developing behavioral issues. For instance, senility can make older dogs bark. A dog losing its vision is also more likely to bark at shadows and objects that it cannot clearly see.
Address barking sooner rather than later. First of all, it is a bad behavior that can be highly irritating to you and your neighbors. A major problem with barking is that it can lead to aggression, particularly in dogs who are doing it to alert you or being protective of their territory or family. Acknowledge their barking when it is at an object or person, such as a delivery man, and then ask them to be "quiet".
Barking is a major way that dogs communicate, but sometimes they get excited and overdo it. Take note of when they are barking to try and treat the underlying behavior. Training your dog to stop barking is incredibly important, but it is something that can be readily done by just about anyone. If you are having trouble teaching your dog not to bark, work with a trainer to help give you pointers. Above all, remember to only reward the behavior you want, such as not barking when you say "quiet".