While you certainly love your dog, there are times when you cannot deal with your pup’s behavior. For example, barking problems can lead to serious frustrations.
Controlling your dog’s barking will come down to understanding why it is obsessively barking, addressing the issue, and providing proper training. You can curb barking problems, but do not expect a quick fix. It will take time and dedication on your part to do it.
Reasons for Barking Problems
Before you can do anything about a barking problem, you need to find out why it is happening. There is always a reason behind your dog barking.
It should be fairly easy to figure out the reason by watching your dog over time. You will want to note when and where your dog barks. Note anything different that could trigger the barking or the things at which it is barking.
Through observation, you should be able to find what is at the heart of your dog’s barking problem.
According to the ASPCA, there are nine core reasons why your dog may bark obsessively:
- Separation anxiety
Barking due to pain may occur when your dog has an injury or is sick. It can be a natural response since barking is the only way your dog has to communicate.
You will notice a dog may also whine a lot and show signs of illness or injury if this is the underlying reason for barking.
Compulsive barking is a habit. It is something your dog develops over time. This type of barking will be repetitive. It is usually a short, fixed bark that happens for no discernible reason.
You may notice other compulsive behaviors, such as pacing, with dogs that compulsively bark.
Territorial barking comes as a response to seeing people, other animals, or anything that approaches your dog’s territory. It is a warning and may include growling.
It is your dog’s way of expressing fear or excitement. This type of barking is highly motivated and difficult to curb as your dog has an instinct to protect its territory.
An attention-seeking bark is something you’ve ingrained in your dog. When it barks, you react. You’ve essentially trained your dog to do this.
You will notice your dog may bark randomly for no reason and stop as soon as you give it attention. A dog may bark to get other things as well, such as food or toys.
A greeting bark occurs when your dog sees other dogs, people, or anything it feels is a potential friend. It is just trying to say hello. Social dogs often display this type of barking behavior.
Separation anxiety is a condition many dogs develop. Your dog may display signs if it barks when alone. Once it sees you or someone else, it may stop.
This type of barking often happens alongside other signs of anxiety, such as pacing or distress behaviors.
Socially-facilitated barking happens when your dog hears other dogs barking. It is a natural instinct. It can happen at any time your dog hears another dog.
Alarm barking happens due to hearing or seeing something it feels may be a threat.
It is similar to territorial barking, but alarm barking is usually a response to something upsetting or that scares your dog. It doesn’t require someone or something coming into your dog’s territory.
If your dog is frustrated, it may begin barking excessively. This may happen if you put your dog on a chain and it cannot roam freely or you put it in a crate.
If your dog does not like its current situation, it may go into a pattern of frustrated barking.
Once you figure out the reason behind your dog’s behavior, you will need to start thinking about training. There are quite a few options:
- Positive reinforcement
- Bark collar
Clicker training involves using a device that makes an audible clicking noise when you press the button. Clickers are readily available and come in different styles, such as the HoAoOo Pet Training Clicker.
You will use the clicker in conjunction with a treat. You click when the dog is doing the desired behavior and you give a treat. Remember to always give a treat immediately after you click.
The dog will learn that a clicker means two things. First, whatever they were doing when they heard the click is what you want them to do. Second, a treat is on the way.
The exact method will vary depending on why your dog is barking. For example, if your dog is barking because it doesn’t like the crate, wait until your dog is silent for a moment (even if it’s just to take a breath between barks at first). As soon as your dog is quiet, click and treat.
The AKC explains that adequate exercise can often stop many bad behaviors in dogs.
For example, if your dog expresses separation anxiety, you can use exercise to tire it out so that when you must leave, it will rest instead of barking.
Proper socialization is important for dogs and controlling behavior. Socializing involves introducing your pet to other dogs and people so that it learns they are not a threat.
It is important to socialize your puppy early, as the critical socialization window closes at about 16 weeks of age. However, it is also critical to continue socialization throughout your dog’s life.
It is also essential to know that socialization does not mean allowing your dog to play with every dog it sees. Instead, socialization actually means teaching your dog to exist around other dogs and people without reacting at all.
Dog toys, especially puzzle toys, can be an amazing tool in helping your dog with barking issues. It gives your dog something on which to focus its attention other than whatever is making it bark.
Recommended Read: 7 Best Dog Toys
Management is about removing bark triggers or reducing the issues that lead to barking. This is best in situations where other training may not work to stop the barking problems.
Command training can make your pup much easier to deal with. It is not only nice for fixing barking problems but also a way to ensure you can control your dog. This provides more safety to your pup and those around it.
For barking problems, the quiet command is one you will want to practice. Ironically, it is easiest to teach a dog the quiet command after you teach them to bark on command.
Positive reinforcement can occur in conjunction with all the other types of training. It simply is a matter of rewarding good behavior and ignoring bad behavior.
Dogs will usually do things to get attention, and if what they do does not result in a response, they tend to stop doing it. That is the idea behind this type of training.
Bark collars come in a range of options. They are a form of punishment, but the extent varies greatly.
Some collars, such as the Dogcare Bark Collar, will respond with electrical stimulation to the dog if it barks. The feeling is similar to that of a TENS unit rather than a true “shock.”
[amazon box=”B07SR83Y1W” template= “horizontal”]
Then, there are other collars, such as the DogRook Rechargeable Dog Bark Collar, that work without the pain element and will vibrate or beep to train the dog.
[amazon box=”B072DS462V” template= “horizontal”]
There are also others that will spray something, such as citronella, that is unpleasant to a dog when it barks.
You should note that professionals do not suggest using a bark collar as the first line of training. They are usually the last resort option and you should always have a professional trainer show you how to use these tools safely.
Choose the Right Training Option for Barking Problems
Seeing all the training options may be overwhelming. It can help to match the training method to the type of barking your dog is doing.
Some options work best for certain triggers, so you can get the best results if you carefully choose a method based on the cause of the barking problems.
Barking in response to pain requires medical attention. Once you treat the underlying health issue, the barking problems should stop.
You should always see the vet if you suspect pain could be the underlying issue or if you have no idea what is causing your dog’s barking problems.
Compulsive barking is tough to fix. You may need to seek help from an animal behaviorist for severe cases. However, you can try a bark collar to help with this.
Other methods are also worth trying, especially socialization and exercise. If you think the behavior ties to boredom, consider providing toys as well to be a distraction.
For territorial barking, you need to address the opportunity to bark and the natural motivation to defend the territory. You can use management methods here.
Try blocking your dog’s line of sight so it cannot see people walking by or whatever is triggering the barking. The quiet command also works nicely here.
Attention-seeking barking is something you caused, so you will have to modify your behavior to stop reacting to barking. Use positive reinforcement.
React only when your dog stops barking and never during a barking episode. You can use other training methods to assist, such as the quiet command.
A good way to address greeting barking is to adjust how your interactions occur. Give your dog a distraction when someone comes over and keep things calm.
You can make use of clicker training when on walks to help stop this behavior.
Dealing with separation anxiety may take trying a few different things before you figure out what will work for your pup. This may include medical intervention.
Your veterinarian may be able to provide medications that can ease anxiety symptoms. You may also be able to help your pup with exercise and other behavior training.
The best way to help with this is to socialize your dog. You should start at a young age. Make sure your dog is always used to being around other dogs and people to help stop this reaction.
For alarm barking, the quiet command is a good tool. It will let your dog know there is nothing to fear and give it a way to calm quickly.
You can also use a “place” command, which is where you teach your dog to go to a specific place, such as their dog bed, and stay there until you release him.
Once you train the place command, you can use it when you know something may happen to alarm your dog, such as visitors coming to your home.
Frustration barking requires teaching your dog to control its behavior. You can use training for this, such as clicker training or other obedience training. Toys and exercise can also help with this type of barking problem.
Recommended Read: Basic Obedience Training for Adult Dogs: What You Need to Know
Frequently Asked Questions About Barking Problems
Being a dog parent is not an easy job. While you now have a lot of information about fixing barking problems, you may still have some questions.
Here are some of the common questions people ask with helpful answers.
Can You Train a Dog Not to Bark?
In most cases, you will be able to train your dog not to bark. However, do not expect it to happen overnight. The only time you can find a quick fix is if the barking is a result of pain that you get treatment for.
In all other situations, it will take time to retrain your dog. Your initial goal should not be to completely eliminate the barking but to reduce it. This is a more attainable goal that will make the situation less frustrating for you and your dog.
How to Get a Dog to Stop Barking?
You must find the proper method for the type of barking your dog is doing. Assess the reason for barking and then use the method or methods that work best for that type of barking.
You also want to keep in mind that you can make training easier by staying positive, keeping things consistent, and not responding through yelling, which only feels like you are barking at the dog.
Are Bark Collars Humane?
Bark collars are controversial, but they can be effective. The Humane Society of the United States explains that if you use a bark collar, you need to accompany it with training.
The bark collar alone only stops your dog. It doesn’t teach the right behavior, which is what you want to do.
Punishment alone rarely works to fix bad behaviors. It will only leave you and your dog miserable. Make sure you add some form of positive reinforcement to help your dog understand what it should do.
Barking problems can be frustrating for you and your dog. Neither of you really enjoy it when your dog is barking nonstop. It typically means your dog is not content.
The best way to address this problem is to assess the situation. Find out why your dog is barking. Then, you can match the type of training to the root cause for the best solution.
If you take your time and don’t expect an instant solution, you should find that you can fix this behavior. It will make for a better relationship between you and your dog, and a better environment for everyone.