Is your dog a barker? It’s not always a bad thing, but wouldn’t you like to teach your dog to kindly zip it sometimes? Read on to learn why dogs bark and how to stop barking.
If so, there are certainly times when you don’t mind at all, for instance, when your dog alerts you to an intruder outside. And there are also times you’d prefer your dog not to bark, such as when he barks incessantly because he hears the UPS truck stopped on the street. In fact, the UPS truck is Woof Reporter Larry’s cue to bark, even when that truck often means goodies for him (then again, perhaps that’s why he’s barking)!
It’s important to understand nearly all dogs bark, it’s just one of the ways dogs express themselves and communicate.
Before you teach your dog what type of barking is or is not acceptable in your home, you’ve got to know when and why your dog is barking.
To answer the question, we turn to Kat Martin, dog training and behavioral expert and owner of Dogs & Kat Training and Behavioral Counseling, and a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.
Kat explains that dogs bark for many reasons and these include boredom, excitement, anxiety, alerting and attention seeking. And the first question she asks clients is, “When and where is your dog barking?” Once the triggers are understood, the issue can be addressed.
Below are the top two common reasons for barking and Kat’s practical advice on how to teach your dog to stop barking when needed in these circumstances.
In this case, you want your dog to bark, but you’d also like your dog to stop barking when you ask. Start by teaching your dog a verbal cue for silence, such as ‘Quiet’ or ‘Hush.’ (Larry is learning ‘Quiet’ along with the signal for ‘shhh,’ an index finger to the lips).
When your dog barks, you may shout ‘Quiet’ or ‘Hush,’ and then your dog barks some more and you shout again, and from your dog’s perspective, it seems that you are barking too! Why would your dog stop barking?
Instead of escalating the behavior, remain calm and, treat in hand, walk over to your dog (presumably by the window) and say ‘Quiet’ in a firm but calm tone of voice. Put the treat directly under his or her nose to distract your dog by the smell and lure him or her away from the window. Once your dog is calm and quiet, give the treat. If your dog returns to the window, repeat the steps. Over time, your dog will stop barking and look to you for a treat, and when that happens, be sure to offer plenty of praise and treats.
With these steps, you are interrupting the behavior you do not want, moving her away from the trigger so she is calm, and rewarding the good behavior you do want.
For this type of barking, you’ll want to ignore the barking and reward the quiet. When a dog is barking for attention, it’s best to turn your head or entire body away from your dog. Use your same ‘Quiet’ cue, and the moment the barking stops, give your dog your attention, praise or even better – a treat.
With enough repetition, your dog will realize you are rewarding him when he’s not barking, and that barking simply doesn’t pay off. In the process, your dog will also learn that ‘Quiet’ means ‘stop barking.’
Many thanks to Kat Martin, dog training and behavioral expert and owner of Dogs & Kat Training and Behavioral Counseling in Nashville, Tennessee, for the helpful pointers and information!
Read more about why your dog barks and how to stop excessive barking in the article from WebMD Pets, “Why Dogs Bark and Curbing Excessive Barking.”
For more on barking, read Woof Report’s past tip, “New Study Decodes the Evolutionary Reasons for Barking”
Thank you to Marj Kibby on flickr for the photo of Dusty.
Originally published January 2011; reviewed and updated July 2017.