Do you dread people coming over and ringing your doorbell? Does your dog seem to bark uncontrollably? It takes a lot of patience and consistency, but stopping barking IS trainable!
Why do dogs bark?
Dogs don’t speak human; instead they bark as a means to communicate with us. Your dog might be barking for a variety of reasons: warning or alert, anxiety, excitement or play, attention-seeking or even boredom. Take the time to listen to how and when your dog barks to better understand why it’s barking.
Training your dog
Now that you understand why your dog is barking, you can work to control the behaviour. Here are some helpful tips to improve your dog’s barking habit:
Make sure your dog is regularly exercised – take it for walks, play together with toys or train it a new trick.
Do not give your dog attention (positive or negative) for their barking. Positive attention would be petting or comforting the dog; negative attention would be scolding the dog. Any form of attention encourages the behaviour.
Use the “be a tree” method to wait out your dog’s barking – turn your back and look away from the dog. When the dog stops barking, you can then calmly acknowledge it. If the dog starts to bark again, return to the tree position.
Use the redirect method to change your dog’s focus – call them away from the source of their barking and refocus their attention on something else, like a toy or a trick. When they stop barking be sure to give them lots of praise!
Practice makes perfect! Work on the tree and redirect methods with your dog on leash. Get a friend or family member to help with ringing the doorbell or any other actions that cause your dog to bark.
There’s a lot of information about curbing excessive barking online. For further information, consider speaking with a behaviouralist or attending an obedience class.