11 Ways to Nip Barking Bad Habits in the Bud

Dogs bark. It’s a fact of life, whether you have a pet or are just living in an apartment building with other people who have pets. Barking is frustrating for most owners, especially when it continues for hours at a time and/or is used as a way to prevent family members from leaving the house, going outside or coming back in. Luckily, there are several ways to deal with this problem.

    • Train your dog not to bark excessively.
      While this may seem like an impossible task, it is possible to break the bad habit of barking for attention by training your pet to “speak” and “quiet.” To use this method, you must train your dog when it is allowed to bark so that you are able to give him the opportunity to vocalize when needed. While training may seem like a difficult and time-consuming process, it can save you from continually putting up with barking. This will come in handy when you start giving your pup obedience training.
    • Restrict your dog from excessive barking with a fence or barrier.
      If you have a yard, place your pooch in it when he barks excessively. You can also use baby gates, crates, and leashes to keep your dog from being able to move about the house. If you have a particularly small breed of dog, confining him in a crate or another room can be effective if he is not able to bark at people or other animals through closed doors.
    • Stick to a routine.
      Getting up in the morning, going for a walk and coming home at night are all parts of a dog’s daily life that can cause them to bark excessively. If your dog is in the habit of barking when you leave in the morning, it may be best to get up an hour or two earlier and take him for a walk before you leave. This way, he doesn’t need to bark because he has already relieved himself outside.
    • Try an anti-bark collar.
      This device gives your pooch an electric stimulation or citronella spray when he barks. While these techniques are humane, they should be used with caution. Whether you use an anti-bark collar or not, it is important to make sure your pooch cannot get hurt by the device or escape from it during training sessions.
    • Combat barking with negative sounds and smells.
      Experiment with using negative noises and smells to interrupt your dog when he is barking. If you do not like the idea of stimulating your furry friend, try a spray bottle filled with water to startle him next time he barks excessively. For large dogs, consider blowing an air horn or popping a balloon near his head when he starts barking. If he is smaller, try using a whistle or shaking an aluminum can full of coins. He will likely associate these sounds with his barking and stop.
    • Modify the environment to discourage barking.
      Dogs bark when they are bored and want attention. It also happens when dogs get excited and do not know how to handle themselves properly. If this is the case, take steps to teach your pooch how to behave in specific situations so that he will not feel the need to bark excessively. For example, if your dog barks every time you leave the house, don’t give him attention when you walk out or come back in. If he barks when you come home at night, teach him to sit and stay until you release him.
    • Consult your veterinarian if all else fails.
      Your veterinarian can prescribe medication that can be used to help modify your dog’s behavior and make him less reactive. However, medications should only be considered after other training methods have been tried, should be given with care and shouldn’t be considered a stand-alone solution.
    • Use positive reinforcement to reward your dog when he is not barking.
      When training your dog, it does little good to punish him every time he barks excessively because this approach can make him afraid of you or cause him to feel anxious when interacting with you. If you have been using aversive techniques to stop your dog from barking, try rewarding him for not making noise instead. When training your pooch, give him a treat every time he does not bark excessively.
    • Reward your dog every time he barks less than usual.
      Dogs can be remarkably adaptive and will learn when they should or shouldn’t bark. Use this innate ability to help train them not to bark excessively. For example, let your dog know he has done a good job by giving him a treat or affectionate touch when he is quiet.
    • Don’t yell or punish your dog for barking without reason.
      This approach can confuse your pooch and make him fear you. Yelling at or punishing an excessively barking dog may also cause him to feel anxious or make him afraid of his surroundings.
    • Ask others around you for help if your dog’s barking becomes a problem.
      When you are not able to control your pet, it is often best to enlist the aid of those closest to you. If they live with you, ask them for their support and try to figure out together what motivates your dog to bark excessively. If your dog frequently barks at people or other dogs passing by, consider asking a neighbor or close friend who is familiar with your pet to help train him not to make noise when he sees someone new.

Final Thoughts

Simple steps like these can be used to curb even the most persistent barking habits. If your dog requires more direct intervention, speak with an animal trainer or behaviorist who can help you solve the problem. While all dogs are unique, they are also creatures of habit that respond well to consistent training techniques. By consistently working with your furry friend and modifying his environment to fit his needs, there is no reason why he cannot master good barking behavior.
If you follow these simple steps, you should be able to nip your dog’s obnoxious barking in the bud. Need some help? That’s what we’re here for! Give us a call today to see how we can help you train away from your dog’s worst habits.

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