Dogs bark for many reasons.
The more common ones are listed below with some ideas for solving the problem.
- He wants attention:
He many want you to play or get up and feed him. Whatever it is … Don’t do it! If you do, you will be teaching him that barking “works” to get his owner moving. Say “leave it” and then ignore him (don’t even look at him – walk away or go into another room and close the door) until he stops for a few seconds and relaxes and then you may do what he would like you to do. For the long term, make an effort to initiate activities he enjoys and make them happen on your schedule. Make sure that everything he gets he “earns”. Have him “sit” to go outside, or get his leash put on, his food bowl, petting, etc.
- He hears or see something interesting:
- When you are home:
Prevent: Block the source of sound/sights using a fan or blinds or keeping him in a different area of the house.
- Teach “Quiet” Good Dog
When he barks, wag a piece of food/treat in front of his nose as you say “Quiet” when he stops barking to sniff the treat and feed a treat). Repeat. After about 3 trials this way, go to just “pretending” to hold out a treat and say “Quiet” when he obeys, “good dog”. Reward him for choosing to be quiet on his own when he hears or sees something that usually makes him bark. When you are not home:
- Prevent: Block the source of sounds/sights using a fan or blinds or keeping him in a different area of the house.
On a walk (barking at other dogs, people, or cars, etc. out of excitement):
- Teach him “Watch Me”:
Begin in the house with a few distractions present. Say your dog’s name and “Watch Me” while holding treat to your nose. Give the dog the treat when your dog looks at the treat for 1 second. Practice this 10 times. Then practice it while only “pretending” to have a treat. This will become your hand signal. Build up the length of time that your dog can continue watching you. Practice “watch me” while you are walking around inside. Practice “watch me” while you are outside (you may need to revert to showing him the treat for a few reps). Practice “watch me” when you are outside something interesting. Practice “watch me” in a situation when he would normally bark.
- If you have already taught Quiet:
When he begins to bark, or you see one of his triggers, say “Quiet” and treat. Treat every few seconds that he remains quiet. Teach him that his trigger means “Quiet”. Example: barking at cars. Whenever a car goes by waggle a treat in his face and bring it towards yours. When he looks at you give him a treat. Repeat until he voluntarily looks at you (without barking) when a car is coming.
- Reward Calm behaviour:
When you come upon something that usually makes him bark and he hasn’t barked, treat him.
If he is unable to respond to the “Quiet” cue (or doesn’t know it yet) just turn around and calmly walk away from the thing that is getting him so excited. Reward him when he becomes calm.
- He is afraid, aggressive or territorial:
- Prevent outbursts by blocking windows, using a fan or not taking him places that cause him to have outbursts. This is not meant to be a permanent solution but is helpful when you are teaching him that he does not need to be afraid. It is best to do this for 7 days before beginning training to give his body and mind a chance to calm down.
- Stay calm.
- Go to a dog training school.
- Get him to change his mind about what he is upset about.
Teach him that, when he is upset about before now predicts his favourite things. When the trigger appears at a distance, give a treat. Gradually get him closer to the trigger and treat frequently. For a territorially aggressive dog, it may be helpful to teach him that the doorbell (or knock) means he should get in his crate and wait for treats. You can begin to teach this by ringing the doorbell and then luring him to his crate and feeding treats.
- Teach him “watch me”. Use the cue when you predict he will get nervous with frequent treats.
- Reward clam behaviour.
- He is bored or frustrated:
- Prevent by keeping him busy and tiring him out with chew toys, exercise and training. He should have at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise per day, plus 1 hour of chewing and 15 minutes of training.
- Teach “Quiet” (see above).
- Say “leave it” and then ignore him (don’t even look at him – walk away or go into another room and close the door).
- Use a “Time out” (see above).
- He is excited to play:
- If this is a problem to you, teach him that when he begins to bark the play ends.
Leave a short leash on him if you need to in order to lead him out of the play session. When he begins to bark, time him out (see above) or stop playing with him. Reward him with continued play when he is quiet. With Kind Regards Pam Naude K9 Communications Dog Behaviourist/ Force Free Dog Trainer PAT ( Pets As Therapy) Area Co-Ordinator and Behaviourist for Durban Doggone Safe Bite Educator for Schools Durban Member of the Animal Behaviourists of SA Mobile: +27 83 628 88 04/ WhatsApp Office: 031 572 5146 Facebook: K9communications-doggyminds