Dogs bark for many reasons, including sounding the alarm, seeking attention, anxiety, and excitement. Nuisance barking can also be a coping method for the boring life that most dogs lead. At core, all that dogs do all week is eat two meals a day, sleep on their beds or the couch, and go for an occasional walk. Pretty dull, right?
Dogs that bark too much, however, can be a problem for their owners. This exercise barking might necessitate actions such as debarking, which is the removal of a dog’s vocal cords.
Debarking, for most of the part, is considered a beastly act by most people. However, this surgery is very common, especially in the United States.
That said, there are different ways to stop nuisance barking dogs, the best being increasing exercise and mental stimulation to tire and refocus their minds. Thus, decreasing the need to bark.
What Makes A Bark ‘Nuisance Barking’?
Several causes can stimulate nuisance barking. The first step towards stopping this behavior is identifying if it is actually a problem, as well as identifying the causes of this problem.
Doing this is vital as it helps to ensure that you are not assuming that your dog is displaying standard behavior when he barks. For instance, your dog might bark with excitement all the time when you step up on the front door after a long day at work. However, this behavior, if left unchecked, can get out of hand.
Once you ensure that your dog indeed has a problem, the type of nuisance barking that you are dealing with. The following issues constitute nuisance barking.
Anxiety in dogs can be caused by separation, and this behavior can be rectified using specific behavior modification protocols.
Mostly, your dog will vocalize anxiety as in a bid to re-establish contact or ease it. It is important to note that anxiety barking is one of the behaviors that require lots of patience because it is hard to modify.
If you establish that your dog’s barking is caused by separation anxiety, get professional help from a positive reinforcement trainer. The trainer might give you a modification plan, which will produce the best results for your dog.
Barking for attention
Barking for attention is one of the easy behaviors to modify. Following these modification steps will lead to great results for your dog. Your dog will learn that barking does not get him any attention, but being quiet does:
- When your dog barks for your attention or for something else, ignore him until he stops.
- If your dog keeps barking harder and longer to get your attention, but be patient and keep ignoring him.
- Wait till he is quiet for about five seconds before praising and rewarding him with a treat.
- Repeat this exercise until he changes behavior.
Barking due to excitement
Just like you vocalize your feelings when you are excited, so do dogs. This behavior is especially made worse by the fact that humans tend to have pre-fixed ways of doing things. Your dog will pick up your pre-feeding or pre-walking behaviors, for instance, and bark in excitement and anticipation for what is to come. To deal with excitement barking:
Try to change your cues as much as you can. Also, stop what you are doing when your dog starts barking. For instance –
- If your dog starts barking when you go to get his food, put his food back, and sit down. When he quiets down, get the food and start putting it in his bowl.
- If he starts barking again, take away the bowl of food until he quiets down.
- You need to be patient and not take pity on your dog. With time, the dog will learn that being quiet gets him fed.
- Remember that you do not need to use any words with this technique. All that is required is body language, as dogs are good at watching and understanding it.
How to stop nuisance barking
To stop this behavior:
- Find a sport or activity that your dog enjoys.
- Feed your dog using different methods. For instance, instead of always using a bowl, hide the dog’s food in various locations around the house to stimulate and tire his brain.
- Hide toys inside the house for the dog to find. This will help to stimulate his brain as well as serve as an exercise for the dog as he moves around.
Additionally, you can:
- Encourage your dog to bark more using the verbal cue ‘bark’ and a hand signal that denotes the action of barking.
- Soon as she begins associating the hand signal with the action, use the signal and the verbal cue to encourage him to bark.
- When he gets quiet, praise him with the vocal cue ‘quiet’ and a hand signal that he can associate with the action.
- Keep building the quiet cue and signal until he learns to quiet on his own. Remember to praise him.
- You can use both cues and signals to encourage and stop barking on command.
What not to do when teaching your dog to stop barking:
When modifying barking behavior, avoid shouting at the barking dog as this will only make him bark harder.
It’s Not Just About Barking For No Reason
Remember that stimulating your dog’s brain and exercising him will tire him and stop nuisance barking. When finding an activity for your dog, do not forget to take his breed into account.