Dogs bark for many reasons. The more common ones are
listed below with some ideas for solving the problem.
He wants attention:
He may want you to play or get up and feed him. Whatever it is… Don’t do it! If you do, you will be teaching him that barking “works” to get his owner moving. Say “leave it” and then Ignore him (don’t even look at him–walk away or go into another room and close the door) until he stops for a few seconds and relaxes and then you may do what he would like you to do. For the long term, make an effort to initiate activities he enjoys and make them happen on your schedule. Make sure that everything he gets he “earns”. Have him “sit” to be given a privilege such as going outside, or getting his leash put on, his food bowl, petting, etc.
He hears or sees something interesting:
When you are home:
1. Prevent: Block the source of sound/sights using a fan or blinds or keeping him in a different area of the house.
2. Teach “Quiet”:
1. When your dog barks, wag a piece of food in front of his nose as you say “Quiet”. When he stops barking to sniff the treat, C/T. After about 3 trials this way, next time he barks, just “pretend” to be
holding out a treat as you say “Quiet”. When he complies, C/T. C/T again for every few seconds which he remains quiet after hearing the cue. Gradually increase the time elapsed between clicks.
2. Reward him for choosing to be quiet on his own when he hears or sees something that usually makes him bark.
3. Use a “Time Out”:
- A “Time Out” (TO) should be used infrequently. By removing the dog from his social circle, you are administering what is called a negative punishment. This punishment can have side-effects that we don’t necessarily want like him learning that you walking towards him is a bad thing. This is why the TO should be used sparingly and an emphasis should be put on teaching the dog an alternative behavior that you prefer and preventing the misbehavior.
- First decide on a spot to use as a TO. The best spot is one that your dog will find neither scary or wonderful and is safe for him. Good examples are a gated pantry, bathroom (remove the toilet paper first!) or tether. If your dog does not mind his crate, you can use that as a TO area. Have him wear a 2 foot piece of rope with a knot on the end. When your dog barks, say “time out” in a neutral voice, walk calmly to him, grasp the rope and walk him gently but firmly to his time out space. Place him there for 5 minutes (or longer if you need a time out from him!). After the 5 minutes, if he is calm, release him. He may need you to demonstrate this a few time before he understands which behavior is earning him the TO.
4. Use a Citronella Spray Collar: This should be reserved for when you “can’t take it anymore!” and the barking is not associated with fear or aggression.
When you are not home:
1. Prevent: Block the source of sound / sights using a fan or blinds or by keeping him in a different area of the house.
2. Use a Citronella Spray Collar: This should be reserved for when you “can’t take it anymore!” and the barking is not associated with fear or aggression. You will have to first use the collar when you are home to make sure he understands how it works.