Dogs naturally make a lot of noises – whining, moaning, sighing, farting and growling. But out of all the noises they make, barking is the noise that can land you and your dog in the metaphorical doghouse. If you cannot get your dog to stop barking incessantly, you will face fines, court dates and the possibility of your dog being taken away from you.
Why Do Dogs Bark?
Dogs bark because of three reasons –
- sheer boredom
When you are retraining your dog to stop barking so much, make your sizeable task easier by making sure your dog is waiting a proper diet, getting regular exercise (including AT LEAST one half hour vigorous walk a day) and have your dog neutered. Neutering your dog not only reduces your dog’s chance of getting cancer of the reproductive organs, but makes the dog much better able to concentrate on training sessions.
When They Bark
Try to immediately distract your barking dog’s attention by clapping your hands, throwing a ball or stomping on the floor (the floor, not your dog). Whatever you do, DON’T shout. It is very hard not to shout because you want to let any human hearing your barking dog get yelled at. But human yelling equals human barking to a dog. Your dog will keep on barking when you yell at him or her to stop barking so the dog barks more and the cycle continues.
One thing that may work for your dog certainly worked for mine. My mongrel Pony suddenly began the habit of barking when she wanted her dinner when she turned three years old. This had to be stopped. When she began barking, I put her in the basement by herself. She wasn’t let out until she stopped barking.
When I’m not home, I leave plenty of chew toys to keep her mouth occupied. I also leave something with my scent on it (my bathrobe) to give her comfort.
Reinforce Quiet Behavior
When your dog is quiet, reward with praise, treats or (if your dog is on a diet) play with a favorite toy. Do this whenever your dog is quiet, until your dog starts cottoning on to the idea. Each dog learns at his or her own pace – just like you do.
You need patience in order to retrain a continually barking dog, especially if they are one of the breeds that have been bred to bark, such as Jack Russells. If you are not having success, then you should ask your vet for advice and to help find a trainer. You may need a professional trainer for help.
What About Debarking?
The absolute last resort can be to get your dog a devocalization (debarking) operation. (This operation is illegal in many European countries). Any operation is expensive and potentially lethal, so this should be done only if the dog is under threat of death because of the barking.
Debarking will not make a dog silent. The dog will still bark and make noises, only softer than usual. Many view debarking as cruel. It is necessary, expensive surgery if you are patient and persistent with retraining.
- · Palika, Liz. The KISS Guide to Raising Your Puppy. DK Publishing; 2002.
- · Sweeney, Michael S., et al. Dog Tips From Dog Town: A Relationship Manual for You and Your Dog. National Geographic: 2010.
- · Dennison, Pamela. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Positive Dog Training. Alpha Books; 2006.