Bark Control for Small Dogs

Small dogs often feel insecure in their environment, causing them to bark and drive their owners to seek bark control. However, many conventional methods for reducing barking, such as squirt bottles and aversive collars, just make the dog more nervous, causing an increase of barking in the absence of the correction. Instead, the focus should be on making the dog more comfortable.

Create a Safe Place

Whether your dog barks at strange noises or visitors in the home, a quiet place can be a safe haven where your dog escapes his fears. This can be a crate or a small room, but it should be a comfortable place that the dog loves, safe from distractions.

Get your dog used to this area by spending time in the area with him. Spend evenings watching television in the bedroom, for example, while your dog lies in the back crate. Put on some white noise and add a DAP diffuser, which releases calming pheromones that only your dog can smell.

When you are home, keep a small leash on your dog. When he starts barking, give a command, such as "quiet" once or twice. If he doesn't respond, grab the leash and walk the dog back to the room without talking or scolding. Don't pick up your dog. This will make the barking worse.

Leave the dog in the room until he calms down. This is not a punishment. As your dog gets used to it, he will begin to seek it out when he's nervous.

Teach a Quiet Command

Many owners yell at their dogs when they bark. Unfortunately, this often backfires because your dog thinks that you're barking with him! Instead, teach a command that your dog understands.

To do this, play a game with your dog that gets him fired up and barking. Suddenly stop and wait for your dog to do the same. Then, say "quiet" and reward. Practice this as a game until your dog can stop a barking fit on command.

Teaching Focus

If your small dog also barks while on the street or at the park, teach your dog to focus on you instead. Teach this first in the house when it's quiet by saying your dog's name 15 to 20 times per day and rewarding when he looks at you. Teach your dog to come to your side and look at you each time you say his name.

Once he can do it perfectly in the house, move it to a quiet street or back yard. Once he can do that, add distractions. Stay at a distance where your dog notices the distraction but doesn't react. Each time you see the distraction, give the focus command. Gradually, move closer to the distractions.

Don't try this all in one day. Each session should be only a few minutes. It may take a few weeks to get a quiet dog.

Just remember: Don't pick up your dog. This is what he wants you to do because it makes him bigger. Instead, ignore him. Don't pay attention until the barking stops and he is ready to focus on you again. This will help him learn that polite behavior gets him attention, not barking behavior.