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Stop Dog Barking!

Excessive Barking : Have a Happy Dog, Not a Yappy Dog

Just as birds will sing, and cats meow, barking comes perfectly naturally to dogs. If you have a dog, it’s normal that you should expect some barking, whining, or even howling. This being said, there is such thing as excessive barking. Though it is unrealistic to believe that you can train your dog to stop barking, it is possible to control the barking to give yourself – and your neighbors – some peace and quiet.

The first step to turning down the volume on your dog is to understand what is causing the barking in the first place.

Dogs who are socially isolated or left in a confined space for long periods of time will often use barking to release some of their pent-up energy. In fact, barking will actually become an enjoyable habit for your dog when s/he discovers it as an effective outlet. Once s/he starts barking, s/he will usually continue doing so just for the simple fun of it.

Although you may not have realized it, you may also have played a role in encouraging your dog to bark. Whenever your dog gives a “woof” and you obey, you’re unintentionally training him or her to bark. This can include seemingly harmless actions such as barking to be let in or out of the house, or giving a little yip for a tummy rub. As long as you are complying, you’re reinforcing the barking behavior. In essence, your dog has learned that barking will get your attention; and since the very nature of barking will get your attention, this habit is extremely easy to develop.

That being said, with patience and effort it’s not impossible to break your pooch of his or her excessive barking habit.

If your dog has been barking because s/he is bored, lonely, frustrated, or even frightened, you can ease the barking by alleviating your dog’s woes. If you give your dog lots of exercise and attention while you’re home, s/he will be more likely to sleep all day while you’re away. Spend lots of time with your dog for training, playing, and exercising. Make sure that this includes walks around the neighborhood. This is not only physical, but social exercise for your doggy, since s/he will be able to spend time with you, see other people, dogs, and animals, and investigate all of those sounds and smells that are so tantalizing to our canine friends. You should also make certain that your dog has lots of fun things to play with while you’re gone, so s/he can occupy him or herself. These can include chew toys, squeaky toys, balls, or even a digging pit (if your dog spends his or her days in the yard).

As for actual anti-barking training, there are certain things that can help. For one thing, you should begin to think of “stop barking” as a command that you use consistently every time your dog barks.

Each time your dog barks, let him or her get two or three woofs out, and praise him or her for sounding the alarm. Now you need to tell him or her to “stop barking.” At the same time, wave a special food treat in front of his or her nose; s/he will stop barking to sniff or lick the treat. Use this time to praise your dog continuously, saying “good dog, stop barking, what a good quiet dog, good dog”, and after your dog has stopped barking for 3 seconds, give him or her the treat. Next time, increase the “stop barking” to 5 seconds. Each time your dog stops barking successfully, s/he must be rewarded.

If s/he lets out even the teeniest yip after you’ve given the command, scold him or her immediately. Make it memorable; don’t just say “no” in a soft voice. If s/he makes a mistake, the first “stop barking” should be serious, and for every subsequent bark should lead to an earth shattering, booming “STOP BARKING.” Gradually increase the timed silence with each new effort. In one training session, you may be able to teach your dog to stop barking for up to 1 or 2 minutes. Many repetitions will allow your dog to learn exactly what you mean when you say “stop barking.”

This should be considered great progress, because now whatever has been setting off the barking is becoming a thing of the past, and your pooch is more likely to remain quiet until the next disturbance. Don’t expect the entire problem to go away overnight. It will take weeks of repetition to replace the old barking habit, with a new quieter lifestyle. Don’t give up – You can do it!

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