As dog lovers, we know that barking is simply a canine communication method. But if your pup barks night and day, or your neighbors start to thump on the walls, then it’s time to take action. Here are our top tips to control barking dogs.
1. Understand Why Dogs Bark
Dog barking a lot? That’s because it’s got something to say. That can be: I’m hungry, scared, in pain, or need to go outside. It might be: an exciting stranger is at the door! It could even be: yay, I love life!
So listen to what your dog is saying, and work out your response. Yelling at your pup won’t work – it will just make your dog think you’re joining in and encourage their vocal activities.
2. Get To Know The Different Breeds
Choosing a new pup? In general, smaller dogs are yappier: it’s how they get themselves noticed. Bigger dogs tend to be strong, silent types – but when they do bark, it’s pretty loud.
Dogs on the less vocal end of the spectrum include Greyhounds, Great Danes, and the famous bark-less dog, the Basenji (it yodels instead!). Canines known to be chatty include Beagles, Miniature Schnauzers, and many Terrier breeds.
Whilst huskies and other sled dogs can bark, they prefer a grumble or a low, howl like chat - in fact, next time you’re looking for a five minute internet procrastinate, look up ‘talking husky’ on your favorite video sharing website.
But with careful training, you can control barking dogs of any breed – at least, most of the time! Remember that barking is a natural thing for a dog to do, so you won’t be able to stop it completely.
3. Pick A Rescue Animal
Alternatively, you might avoid a dog barking problem by heading to an animal shelter to find a placid pooch.
Here, you’ll have less choice of breeds, but as the dogs tend to be older, you’ll get a better idea of their temperaments. Ask the shelter team which pups are the most chilled, and have a play with them to see how they are when excitement levels rise. But remember, an animal shelter isn’t (or shouldn’t be) a dog’s natural environment, once you get your rescue pup home and they become more relaxed, they might become more confident and vocal but this doesn’t make them any less worthy of being loved.
4. Socialize Your Dog
The time to stop the dog barking problem is before it starts!
From birth to 16 weeks, your pup will be learning about the world – and developing lifelong loves and fears. By introducing a pup to different sights, sounds and smells from a young age, you and its breeder can help it cope – peacefully – with whatever life later throws at it.
Even if you choose an older rescue dog, socialization is still possible – take it slow, and reward your hound when it behaves calmly.
5. Train Your Dog
Dog barking training isn’t a fail-safe cure for all barking dogs – but it’s a good place to start!
Teaching your pup the basic commands reinforces that you’re the head of the pack. It makes your pooch understand what behavior is acceptable, and rewards it when it gets it right. So if your canine obeys your command to stop barking, let it know it’s been a very good doggy indeed!
Training a pup isn’t always easy, so sign up for dog training classes in your area. Hopefully, there will be some calmer dogs there, whose chilled attitude will rub off on yours!
6. Tire Them Out
Dogs need exercise. Some dogs need LOTS of exercise. So make sure you’re giving yours the walks that are appropriate for its breed, age and health condition.
After a good long walk, you should get nothing more than a weary woof out of them until they’ve had a snooze!
7. Keep Your Pup Stimulated
It’s not just about walks, either – your hound needs brain exercise, too. Set aside some time each day to play with it, and provide it with puzzle toys when you’re busy.
8. Limit Separation Anxiety
One of the most common causes of constant dog barking is separation anxiety. You’ll only hear about it afterwards, when your neighbors complain about the incessant barking.
So introduce your dog gently to the idea of being left alone: start with just a few minutes at a time, then build up to longer periods.
If you’re going out for a short while, you could leave a radio or TV on as company, and provide your pooch with toys to keep it occupied.
If you’ll be out for a longer time, then get a dog sitter to visit. Or perhaps you could take your pooch with you?
9. Desensitize Your Pooch
If certain things trigger your pooch’s barking, you can work on desensitization. This is a similar principle to socialization: it’s about introducing your dog to stimuli in a controlled way, so they learn not to react.
So if your pup barks at other dogs in the park, take it for a walk at a quiet time of day. When you see another hound in the distance, maintain eye contact with your dog and feed it lots of treats as you move a little closer. You may need to do this slowly over a number of weeks.
10. Distract Your Dog
Another barking control method is to give your pooch something to do instead of barking. So if the postman rings on the doorbell, order your dog into its bed and give it a toy or treat before answering the door. Again, this is something you’ll need to work on – but eventually, it should become a useful dog barking remedy!
In this example, it’s really easy to understand what’s causing the dog to bark; the postman has set foot on their territory and they’re warning you (the pack leader) of a potential intruder. Teaching some dogs not to react to territory incursions could be tricky, if not impossible, so settle for a single woof and a return to calm behavior. In many cases, once your dog is confident you’re going to deal with the potential ‘problem’, they can get on with whatever they've been trained to do as their distraction.
11. Ignore Your Dog
If your dog’s barking continuously it may be best to ignore it – otherwise, it learns that barking gets it what it wants. If you think your hound is just after attention, let it bark for a while, and only react (by giving it a treat, or letting it out) once it’s stopped. Short-term pain for long-term gain!
The ignoring method is best deployed when you’ve exhausted any other causes of your dog barking. If your dog’s been shut in the house all day and is barking because it’s bored, ignoring the barking won’t make their boredom go away.
12. Check For Health Issues
As we said above, barking is an important form of communication. And sometimes, your dog’s trying to say something serious.
If the barking is new and you can’t see any trigger, it could be a sign your dog’s in pain or distress. A trip to the vet could turn out to be the dog barking cure that’s required.
13. Call In An Expert
If it’s not something physical the vet can diagnose, your next port of call should be to a behaviorist. If there’s something emotional upsetting your dog, a good behaviorist will be able to improve the communication between you and your pet and help you understand what’s causing all the noise.