Barking is a normal activity for dogs. However, excessive dog barking can be considered a behavior problem. What is the solution? How can you get your dog to stop barking so much?
How to Prevent and Stop Barking in Dogs
Your dog needs to understand when to bark and when to be quiet, and it's your job to teach this to her. Start working on problem barking as soon as you can. The longer you wait, the harder it gets to curb the behavior.
It is a good idea to teach your dog the Speak/Quiet Commands. This may be easier said than done. However, with dedication and consistency, you can teach your dog to bark on command and to be quiet.
Once you determine the cause of your dog's excessive barking, you can begin to control the behavior. The best way to prevent barking in the first place is to try and remove any potential sources of the behavior. You also want to be certain not to inadvertently encourage the barking. Finally, give her better things to do besides barking.
- Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise so there is not as much pent-up energy to burn by barking.
- Avoid leaving a lonely dog alone for long periods of time if possible.
- Never comfort, pet, hug or feed your dog when she is barking for attention or out of anxiety. That would be rewarding the behavior, thus encouraging it.
- Shouting at your dog to stop barking does not help. It may actually cause her to bark even more.
- Avoid punishments like shock collars. They are not only painful and unkind - many dogs will learn to test them and eventually work around them.
- Try to get her attention with a clap or whistle. Once she is quiet, redirect her attention to something productive and rewarding - like a toy or treat.
- After getting your dog's attention, practice basic commands, like sit and down in order to shift her focus.
- DO NOT let your dog bark constantly outside, regardless of the reason. You can hardly train her to stop barking by yelling at her across the yard. Plus, it is one of the fastest ways to turn neighbors into enemies and send an invitation to your local police.
- Train your dog to Speak and Be Quiet.
- Consult your veterinarian and/or trainer if you continue to face barking issues despite your best efforts.
About De-Barking Surgery
"Debarking," or cordectomy is an elective surgical procedure involving partial removal of a dog's vocal cords. Debarking does not take away the dog's ability to bark - it just makes it sound quieter and raspy (considered annoying by some). In this dog lover's opinion, debarking surgery is unnecessary and unfair to the dog. Surgery and anesthesia are always risks, so any procedure that is purely for human convenience and does not medically benefit the patient or animal community should be avoided. In addition, excessive barking indicates an underlying issue that is usually behavioral.
Surgery takes the noise away, but the anxiety, fear or similar problem remains unaddressed. Rather than debarking your dog, spend your time and money on training and/or visiting a veterinary behaviorist.
When It's Not Your Own Dog Barking
The sound of barking dogs in the neighborhood can quickly go from nuisance to nightmare, especially when you are trying to sleep or concentrate. If you are comfortable with it, try politely approaching your neighbor to discuss the matter, or write a direct but civil letter. You may try gently suggesting a local dog trainer or behaviorist. Many people prefer to contact the neighborhood association or another group to act as a moderator. As a last resort, you may need to call the police. However, keep in mind how this could be detrimental to your future relationship with your neighbors. On the other hand, you may not even care about that after a certain amount of sleep deprivation.