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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Pet Care Library > Articles > Tips To Curb Your Dogs Barking Habit

Tips to Curb Your Dog's Barking Habit

PetSmart Debbie McKnight/Accredited PetSmart Trainer

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Dogs bark for a reason. Knowing why they are barking, or more specifically how dogs communicate through barking, is the first step to stopping their inappropriate barking.   The three big reasons a dog barks are: attention, excitement and alarm.

Barking for Attention: this type of barking is generally directed at you. The good news is that this it is the easiest to control. The bad news is that it will get worse before it gets better. Your dog has learned that barking gets your attention in some form or fashion. In your dog’s opinion, attention could be eye contact, touching, or talking (even yelling). Make sure you COMPLETELY ignore your dog if he is barking. He’ll get worse for a while thinking you must be deaf! Don’t worry and don’t give in. He’ll give up on that behavior since it’s not working for him any more. When he gets tired of barking and ignores you, then go interact with him.

 
Barking in Excitement: many dogs bark when they get excited. Maybe they think it will hurry things up (i.e., hurry and put the leash on, hurry and put the food down, hurry and go for a walk, etc). Maybe they just need an outlet for that energy. Either way, more exercise and rewarding only calm behavior will curb this barking quickly. So next time Fido starts getting too excited, stay calm and wait for him to be quiet before you continue with whatever he is so excited about.
 

Barking in Alarm: this is the category that most barking falls under. From the dog’s point of view, it always works for them. Imagine … your dog hears a suspicious noise on the other side of the fence. He barks ferociously to scare off the “intruder.” Suddenly all is quiet. He must have scared it off!! Wow! What a tough dog he is. Little did he know that the mailman would have left even if he didn’t bark. In all seriousness, your dog will bark at whatever startles him, whether it is a robber or the neighbor’s big scary trash can. The better socialized your dog is, the less things will startle him so make sure to socialize your dog very well.

In addition to socialization, your dog needs to know that not barking is an option. To teach him this, get some yummy treats ready. When your dog barks, interrupt him with a clap, whistle, funny sound, etc. When he stops barking, even for a second, pop a tasty treat in his mouth. The more you practice, the better you will get at reading your dog’s body language and you’ll be able to tell when he’s about to bark. Then you can pop a treat in his mouth and praise “good quiet” before he begins to bark.
 

Remember, yelling at your dog while he’s barking sounds more like you’re joining in than anything else, so stay calm. Barking is a perfectly normal behavior, but when it’s excessive it becomes inappropriate. Be consistent and you’ll see a definite decrease in Fido’s barking.

Debbie McKnight is an accredited PetSmart trainer in Hurst, Texas.

 

For information on PetSmart's Accredited Training, please visit PetSmart's training web site.

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Comments

20 Apr 2011 2:09 pm

nothingyou said:

How do I get my 8 month old brussels griffen to stop barking at our cat? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

30 Mar 2011 3:38 pm

flashcat36 said:

How do you stop a Beagle from barking I've tried different bark collars.She barks when she see's a cat or dog and barks on a car ride at people and dogs,cats

19 Jan 2011 12:27 pm

doberdruk1 said:

My dog Chubs is a over a year old now, and several months ago we moved into an apartment. When we got Chubs we were renting a small house and he had a back yard to play in and he used to love to people watch out our window. We moved this past summer, and he was okay about not getting bored because we took him on long walks and played in our apartment complex's "bark park". This winter since it's been cold and we dont keep him out as long I think he is just getting really bored. I try to give him a lot of attention but the barking for attention usually starts when Im doings things like cooking dinner and cleaning. He barks at me and i'll yell at him and tell him "No bark!" and he'll run away and come back a few seconds later and start all over again. He has made it into a game, where he will bark, i'll yell, he'll run away and come back and bark again, until I go after him (which he tries to make a game of tag) and i'll eventually catch him and put him in his crate for a timeout. I have tried ignoring him. This would probably work because I have a pretty high tolerance level and Im sure eventually he would give up but we have neighbors and if they turn us in they could force us to get rid of him. This has been going on for a couple months and Im getting tired of it. The only thing I can think of is to buy him a shock collar to prevent the barking. Suggestions!!??

18 Nov 2010 10:27 am

julie45 said:

Sounds like separation anxiety. Here are tips you can incorporate into your daily routine to help:

-Adopt a low-key approach to goodbyes and hellos with your pet. If your home is a whirlwind of activity, move your pet to his own special place a half an hour or so before leaving so he isn’t tense when everyone is gone and he is alone.
-Try playing the radio or leaving the television on when you are gone.
-Be positive by rewarding good behavior with praise. -Avoid acknowledging hyperactive greetings, jumping or pawing.
-Prevent destructive behavior by keeping your pet in a crate or designated area when you are gone and provide safe and stimulating toys.
-Practice leaving your pet alone for short periods of time when you are home. For example, leave him in one room while you are in another for a few minutes.
-Take a basic obedience course with your pet, or work with a trainer who specializes in pet behavior.

Canine separation can be a hurdle for you and your pet, but together you can conquer his fears so he becomes a well-adjusted family member. Training may help as well.

Good luck

17 Nov 2010 1:58 pm

Mini Mom said:

I just rescued a 1 year old male mini dachshund who was abused and in a really bad situation. I had to go to the store yesterday and I found out when I got back that he had barked non stop til I got home. How do I stop this?

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