Is your pup's bark driving you mad?
Is their growling, yelping and howling getting old? Have you received complaints from the neighbours about their woofs and their ruffs?
If so, you might like these strategies to get your dog to stop barking (and behave better in the process)...
1. Stay calm...and get a treat!
Yelling at your dog to “keep quiet” when they bark is not a going to get them to stop.
In fact, you'll most likely get the opposite result: your dog will probably think that you're joining him, and bark louder.
Instead of yelling, try teaching them to be quiet on command. Like with any command you teach your pup, the key is to be consistent: every time they start barking, calmly repeat “quiet”. When they stop, give them a treat!
They'll soon learn that the word means, and will be able to quiet down!
2. Tire the dog out
Dogs need to release energy.
They need to jump, play, run.
If they are just sitting around most of the day, they tend to release energy by barking.
To avoid this, increase your dog’s daily activities. Take long walks through your neighbourhood, play fetch, and allow your dog to explore.
Stimulating your dog mentally and physically will ware him out, and a tired dog is a quiet dog.
3. Redirect their attention
Making your dog focus their attention on another activity whenever they start barking can be an effective way to calm them down when they're in the middle of a bark-attack.
Try to get them to start playing with one of their chew toys or redirect their attention to any other activity.
If they comply, reinforce this behaviour with a treat. With patience and treats, you can train them to do a specific activity instead of barking.
4. Kill the view
Some dogs instinctively bark whenever they see or hear someone outside their window.
This isn't necessarily their fault: these dogs tend to be more territorial and want to warn their owners of possible predators.
If this is the case with your dog, the best way to deal with it is to try to do things to prevent them from seeing and hearing people outside. Draw the curtains, put furniture in front of windows, or get a white noise machine to keep your dog from getting defensive.
5. Don't reinforce negative behaviour
Sometimes our first instinct as dog owners is to pick up our dogs and play with them to stop them from barking.
But this may actually be sending them the wrong message: it may teach them that barking will get them special attention.
When dogs bark for attention, the best thing you can do is ignore them. Turn your back on them if you have to.
And once the barking stops, reinforce that positive behaviour.