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6 Effective Steps To Stop Your Dog Barking

January 23, 2016

Dog Mad and BarkingListening to your dog bark over and over again can feel like psychological torture. Having your barking dog wake your sleeping baby is beyond frustrating. And needing to apologize to your neighbors for your barking dog can be extremely embarrassing. Whatever your situation, if you’re trying to quiet your barking dog, the following six steps might help you in your quest for quiet. 

Step 1: Have realistic expectations. Keep in mind that it is in your dog’s nature to bark (sometimes). Some dogs are bred for protection purposes and bark if they feel threatened or if they think their owner is threatened. Other dogs are bred to bark as a signal that they’ve found something, such as beagles and retrievers. Some barking is meant to communicate a need to you, such as the need to go outside or the need to eat. When working to quiet your barking dog, just remember that there are some circumstances when a bark should be tolerated. 

Step 2: Try to determine the cause of the bark. Many dogs bark because they are bored, isolated or frustrated. (Steps 3and 4 will cover these issues.) Some dogs bark because they want their owners to play with them. In this situation, you need to ignore the bark, as giving in to her will only reward the barking. If your dog barks when she sees the neighbor’s cat or hears another dog in a nearby yard, try to limit the exposure she has to the instances that instigate the barking. 

Step 3: Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercises. As mentioned in step 2, many dogs bark out of boredom or as a release of energy. If you schedule regular exercise into her routine, your dog will less likely feel the need to bark as a way to release pent up energy. Plan on taking her on walks runs or just play fetch in the yard when you get home in the evenings. 

Step 4: Help your dog deal with separation anxiety. If your dog barks only when left alone, it’s likely she’s suffering from separation anxiety. If possible, practice leaving her for shorter periods of time and let her get used to being alone. Always leave some chew toys or treats that will keep her entertained or engaged in your absence. You could hire a dog walker to visit her during long days, or you can coordinate with another dog owner to have dog “play dates” during the week, so she has a companion when you’re gone. You might even consider getting another pet to keep her company! 

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Step 5: Try corrective measures. If you’re able to catch your dog in the act of barking, you can try some negative reinforcement. You can spray her with water in a spray bottle, shake coins in a can (they don’t like the loud noise) or grab and close her muzzle when she barks. Some people have tried barking collars as well, which release a sound, scent or shock when the dog barks.

Step 6: Teach her to bark! This step might sound crazy, but if you teach your dog to bark on demand, it’s likely she’ll learn there are appropriate and inappropriate times for this behavior. Use a command word, such as “speak” or “bark” and reward her praise, affection and treats each time she barks on demand. Hopefully, the steps above have been helpful in teaching you some tools to quiet your barking dog. As with all behaviors we wish to correct, it takes time and consistency before we see the fruits of our labor. Find the solution that works for you and keep working at it until your dog meets your expectations.

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