Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Excessive Barking

For me personally, there is nothing more annoying than having a neighbor whose dog barks non-stop. Luckily for me, I have two of those neighbors, each with two dogs, YAY! Every time I pass by with one of my dogs, the neighbor dogs go ballistic. There is not much I can do about my situation besides let my neighbor know their dogs barking is an issue. But there is something I can do to prevent my dogs from becoming a nuisance in the neighborhood, most people who live near us are surprised to hear that we have three dogs because they never hear them bark, here's how...

No matter why your dog is barking, if he has excess amounts of energy that barking is going to be much worse. On the contrary, if your dog is tired he may not bark at all. The importance of exercise in all aspects of training is HUGE. A tired dog is a good dog, so, depending on your dog, you should provide at lest an hour of exercise every day.
Finding the source
The method of training used from this point forward will depend on the cause of your dogs barking. Is it separation  anxiety? Boredom? Reaction to another dog? Since boredom barking can be solved with adequate exercise and entertainment, and separation anxiety is a more complex issue, I will focus on the most common reason for dog barking; outside stimuli.

There are multiple methods that can be used to stop your dog from barking at stimuli such as other dogs, people and many other everyday things. Some use corrections to discourage your dog from barking, like bark collars. Bark collars are great for quick results, but I would warn against using them for the long run because in almost all scenarios, your dog will need the bark collar on all his life. This is because the dog learns that he gets a zap from barking only when the bark collar is actually on, so if your dog does not have his bark collar on 24/7 (Which I do not recommend) he is likely to bark still.
Another common method is to use some other form of discouragement, like a spray bottle, to correct your dog with when he barks. This would work great if you could catch your dog every time he barked. The problem with this method is that it is near impossible to catch your dog every time he barks. If you only correct your dog sometimes, your dog learns that sometimes it’s okay to bark, and sometimes it gets me in trouble, but he can’t differentiate between the two, so he continues barking.
And finally to my favorite method. I actually teach my dogs how to bark in order to get them to stop barking. Totally counterintuitive, but it has worked with me. I started slow by teaching my dogs to bark on command, or just waiting for them to bark at some stimuli, then I take a tasty treat and show it to the dog. As soon as his attention is away from barking I say the command ‘quiet’ and give him the treat. Over time I delayed the treat showing until I could say ‘quiet’ and my dogs would immediately stop barking and look to me for a treat. Now whenever my dogs start barking at something I can give the quiet command and they will excitedly come back inside looking for a treat (I don’t give them treats very often because I don’t want them to anticipate a treat as they bark and associate barking with a good thing.)
It also really helps to have a good relationship with your dog and your dog listens to you when you say No.  This way you can say No the moment before your dog starts barking, and the problem is avoided before it could escalate. I feel that this is the best way to train your dog not to bark, but not all dogs will stop what they are doing under all circumstances when you say No. 
Patience, persistence and dried liver can work magic with any dog

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