A dog’s bark is generally how they communicate. It can mean they are fearful, lonely, bored or aggressive. But most people will agree that insistent barking is a nuisance. Stopping a dog from barking can be a difficult pursuit. However, in following a few simple guidelines your way to a peaceful and bark free day can be achieved.
Many dogs will sit near windows and bark aggressively at people walking past (visual stimulus barking). The easiest way to deter this behaviour is to limit the dog’s access to the window or room. If they can’t see it, they won’t bark at it.
If it’s not possible to remove the stimulus (e.g. caused by birds), you can try to train the behaviour out of your dog. Using a clicker, dog whistle or a verbal command (anything that breaks their attention) to get them to stop and then use a treat reward to reinforce proper behaviour.
Boredom barking usually occurs when your dog has nothing to do; breaking the silence to make themselves feel more comfortable. Unfortunately, boredom barking occurs most often when you are not home. One way to counter this is to give your dog an extended walk before you leave for the day. This can help in tiring your dog out and they should relax and sleep while you are gone.
If walking your dog is not an option, you can try using an anti-barking collar. The most effective type for first time users is a citronella spray. These collars working by detecting when your dog barks using vibrating sensors and then sprays a mist of citronella just in front of the dog’s nose. While this is a negative experience for the dog it does not harm them in any way. After a period of time your dog will associate wearing the collar with the experience and the collar will not need to be switched on at all.
When your dog is just so happy or excited that it cannot contain itself and barks out of joy. This can be difficult to train out of your dog, as you don’t want something fun to become something negative. However, it is usually easier to control than other causes, as you dog already wants to do something and will be keen to demonstrate the correct behaviour.
When they start to get excited, give a sharp ‘no’ command (or something else of your choosing) and cease what you are doing. When the dog calms, usually by being still or sitting, reward them for the correct behaviour and continue with the task.
Aggressive barking can be very hard to handle. If it is directed at other dogs, the best way to tackle it is to be aware and avoid strange dogs. Let others know as they walk nearby, and always have a leash and harness and be in full control of your dog.
For aggression toward people, behavioural correction should be made when the dog is near people they do not know. This usually means removing the dog from the situation.
Seeking professional training and guidance is a must to correct aggressive dogs.