We have a special guest post by Petco Dog Training Mentor Chris Murphy, from the Encinitas, CA Petco store. Tips for Pet Parents on How to stop your dog from barking.
Dogs bark for many reasons: fear, excitement, anxiety, boredom, as a warning, and sometimes simply to get attention. As a result, barking is one of your dog’s most important communication tools. Sometimes pet parents don’t mind a few barks, for example, if your dog is telling you that a visitor has arrived or if they are just happily playing with another dog. It’s easy to understand appropriate barking in certain situations, but there are also times when barking isn’t desired. And habitual, incessant barking is never welcomed. If your dog has a tendency to bark too much, have no fear! There are several ways to reverse the habit, so let’s take a look at some options:
Establish teamwork An early first step in dog training of any kind is to establish teamwork between you and your dog. Give your dog praise and positive reinforcement, such as treats, when choosing the appropriate behavior.This aids in guiding your dog to desirable behaviors, because they are rewarded each time which will reinforce that behavior to happen again.
Don’t expect overnight success If your dog has been barking for a long time, it probably won’t be easy to quickly change the habit. Dogs learn best when presented with long-term, consistent guidance from their parents— one-time “quick fixes” usually aren’t as effective. Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise and mental stimulation; a dog with pent-up energy may be more likely to excessively bark. The breed of your dog will also play a factor in the amount of physical exercise and mental stimulation that is required. For example, a Border Collie or similar working breed will demand far more exercise and stimulation than a more laid-back breed such as a Basset Hound. Taking walks, playing ball and just being active with you will help your dog to regulate barking during quieter times. (Plus, think of the exercise you’ll both benefit from!)
“Ignore” the problem A common reaction to incessant barking is to shout at the dog to stop. This can be confusing to dogs, as they may interpret your noise as simply joining in on the barking fun. Instead, try ignoring your dog’s barking. While this can be very challenging, it can also be very effective in some circumstances, such as when your dog is barking simply to get attention. If your dog is barking because they want you to get up and play and you respond by reacting to this barking, the dog has just been rewarded for this behavior—your dog got exactly the desired result. (Some dogs, however, will continue to bark even when ignored, so this isn’t always an effective solution.)
Consider the trigger If attention isn’t the issue, try to determine if there is something else that might be causing your dog to bark. This “something” can be anything—delivery people, wildlife in your backyard, domestic animals that your dog can see but not access, and so on. If your dog barks consistently at something he sees outside the window or outside your yard, eliminating your dog’s access to that room or that part of the yard (even if only at certain times) may solve the problem. Desensitizing your dog to the stimulus is another possibility. The Humane Society of the United States recommends introducing the stimulus at a distance, and then rewarding your dog for not barking. This will teach your dog to associate the stimulus with a reward, rather than with the need to bark. You can then gradually reduce the distance between your dog and the stimulus.
Teach cues Ironically, some dogs benefit from being taught a “speak” cue. Your ultimate goal is to introduce both a “speak” and a “quiet” cue. Once the dog understands the difference, the “quiet” cue can possibly be used to silence unwanted barking.
For more tips and information on training, consult one of Petco’s Positive Dog Trainers Petco Positive Dog Trainer near you, visit http://www.petco.com. All Petco dog trainers are certified in AKC Canine Good Citizen.The AKC Canine Good Citizen certification is a widely-recognized high standard of polite behavior and excellent preparation for therapy dog training. Each dog who completes these courses will receive a certificate from the American Kennel Club.
About Petco and the Petco Foundation Petco is a leading pet specialty retailer that focuses on nurturing the powerful relationship between people and pets. We do this by providing the products, services, advice and experiences that keep pets physically fit, mentally alert, socially engaged and emotionally happy. Everything we do is guided by our vision for Healthier Pets. Happier People. Better World. We operate more than 1,300 Petco locations across the U.S., Mexico and Puerto Rico, including more than 100 Unleashed by Petco locations, a smaller format neighborhood shop; nine Pooch Hotel destinations for pet daycare, boarding and spa services; and petco.com. The Petco Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization, has raised more than $125 million since it was created in 1999 to help promote and improve the welfare of companion animals. In conjunction with the Foundation, we work with and support thousands of local animal welfare groups across the country and, through in-store adoption events, help find homes for more than 350,000 animals every year.