Dogs are great at making us feel better, giving us someone to love, and showing that learn in return, but dogs can also find many ways to drive us insane. (Mine likes to leave the back door open and invite the neighborhood cats into the house). However, one of the most nerve-scraping things a dog can do is constantly bark. Sure, barking at certain times can be a good thing, even a great thing, but barking too much can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle for both you and your pet. In order to stop a dog’s constant barking, one must first understand why dogs bark, and why your dog may be barking.
Dogs bark for a number of reasons. Your dog may be trying to tell you they need something (such as going to the potty), that someone or something is near the house that they perceive as a threat, or maybe that they are excited about something, such as being put on their leash for a walk. Dogs bark and/or howl to show fear, excitement, anxiety, and sometimes it’s a combination of feelings. Sometimes, dogs just like to howl. There are many times that a dog barks that it is good.
For instance, you don’t want to stop a dog from letting you know when they need to be let outside, or if there is someone suspicious in close proximity to the house, but you also don’t want your dog to be a constant howler, as that can be dangerous to your dog, causing doggy hoarseness, damage to the throat, and damage to the vocal cords. If your dog is barking for good reason, then let your dog bark the first few yaps, and then get your dog’s attention with a treat. Let your dog know that you heard him/her and that you appreciate the sound off by giving them praise.
Once your dog is sitting and quiet, give your dog the treat. They will associate the few yaps and then being quiet with getting a treat. If your dog is constantly barking for no known reason, or just to hear himself bark, then it’s time to teach your dog to bark on command. If your dog enjoys barking, this usually isn’t too hard. This will help teach your dog “quiet” and “speak” and can be fun for both pet and owner. First, get your dog’s attention the next time they are barking. You can do this by touching them quickly and then removing your hand, whistling, or clapping.
As you get their attention give the command “quiet.” When they do quiet down, give them a treat. If they don’t stop barking, give the “quiet” command once, and then simply stand next to them and wait for them to stop barking. After they have remained silent for 4-5 seconds, give them the treat. This will help them associate being quiet when told, with getting a treat. If your dog likes to bark, then getting them to speak is usually no problem at all. Tell your dog to “speak” and then encourage your dog to bark by doing an activity that usually initiates barking, such as a doorbell or barking yourself.
Once your dog has barked a few times, use “quiet” and give them a treat. Doing this a few times every day will turn into a routine. The dog will learn that you want them to speak, then be quiet. Doing this means a treat for them. This is a great way to get the quiet that you need in your home, but it is also a great way to add security to your home. If you can direct your dog to bark at anyone who may seem unsavory, then you have yourself a protector as well.