Stop Excessive Dog Barking

by Anne-Marie Smith
dog barking

Up to one in seven dog owners says excessive dog barking is a concern, says the American Veterinary Medical Association. Barking dogs also constitute the vast majority of animal-related complaints in certain locales, the organization states. And the complaints can involve legal action, resulting in eviction proceedings and other activities.

Why do dogs bark?

Dogs bark for as many reasons just like people talk to communicate with one another, as a warning to family or other dogs, to help ensure their own security, and just to shoot the breeze, so to speak. Some barking dogs just prefer to “yak” over others. But they occupy the same world we do, and sometimes a dog’s incessant or ill-timed barking becomes too disruptive.

Can you stop excessive dog barking?

Is there a way to stop excessive barking that doesn’t involve a de-barking surgery — an operation decried by each group from the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association to the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals? They liken de-barking surgery to other dog operations that offer no health benefits, such as ear cropping and tail docking. The answer is yes.

4 Steps to Stop Dog Barking

Training a dog not to bark isn’t tricky. However, like any dog training instruction, says that the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, “it will require time, energy, consistency, and a dedication to long-term understanding and care.” You need to create room for training your dog to stop barking on your schedule and have patience.

If you’re prepared for that challenge, here are the four steps to getting your dog to stop barking excessively. Let us use the hypothetical of a dog that will not stop barking when someone comes to your house.

  1. Ask someone you know but who your puppy may not be knowledgeable about to come to ring the bell or knock on the door in a pre-appointed moment. Let them know they will be helping you and to train your dog to stop barking.
  2. Your barking dog will immediately run to the door and start vocalizing. Use one-word cue — “shush” or “no” — and say it only once, calmly and cheerfully but briskly.
  3. Now, wait patiently for the dog to do his part. He will. Just keep relaxed and don’t pet your dog or gesture at all. (Make sure that the person on the opposite side of the doorway understands to ring or knock only once and only once.) The dog will quiet down, if for no other reason than that he wants to take a breath.
  4. At the exact moment, your dog finally stops barking, even if you know he plans to start right in again, reward him with warm praise and a wonderful food treat for complying with your cue.

You’re likely to have to repeat this dog training exercise — a lot — over the course of many days, or maybe a couple of weeks until your dog gets the hang of it. And every time has to be like the first. You can’t lose your patience or reveal your exasperation, it won’t work. Dogs see your annoyance for a kind of engaging with them, and that is going to goad them on.

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