Humane Ways to Control Dog Barking Problems

The most well-known methods of controlling dog barking problems employ punishment. However, excessive barking is usually caused by anxiety, which is only made worse by punishment. To treat the barking, decide what is causing it and treat that first.

Anxiety Barking

When dogs bark at every little noise, regardless of whether or not their owners are home, it's often caused by anxiety. To solve the barking, make your dog more comfortable in his environment so he is less anxious.

If your dog often barks at a window, for example, limit his access to that window when you aren't home. Instead, prepare him a quiet, comfortable room at the back of the house. Give him activities such as stuffed marrow bones or hidden treats and put on some music or television to block out the noise. Get a DAP diffuser, which releases a calming pheromone in the air.

When you are home, keep a short leash on your dog. If he starts to bark uncontrollably, lead him to his quiet room very calmly. Don't yell at him or he'll likely just think you're barking with him.

Independently, teach him a "watch" command. Feed him his meals where he earns a handful by looking at you when you say "watch." Start in his quiet room and gradually move to more distracting environments. Once he is good at this, say it when he is barking. If he looks at you, reward with lots of treats. If not, remove him from the room.

Territory Barking

If your dog's territorial barking has gotten out of control, teach a "stop" command. To teach this, play with your dog in a way that makes him bark. Once he stops, say "stop" and reward with treats or a toy that he loves. Practice until he responds quickly, then say it when he is barking. If he stops, reward. If not, use a leash as mentioned above and calmly put him in timeout. Don't yell or look at him.

Often, just acknowledging the barking solves the problem. Walk to the window, look outside and say "thank you." Then tell him to "stop." Then, he will know you've checked out the problem and solved it for him.

Attention Barking

Attention barking must be ignored. Leave the room or use a leash as mentioned above to put your dog in timeout. Do not talk to him, yell at him or touch him. You are rewarding the barking. Leave your dog in timeout until the barking stops. Then, praise him and let him out.

Boredom Barking

Often, our dogs learn to bark because they have nothing else to do. If you are going to leave your dog home alone all day, give him activities. Toys aren't interesting unless you are there to play. Instead, use creative feeding.

Throw your dog's food across the lawn right as you leave so he must hunt for it. Stuff his food with peanut butter or cream cheese in a toy or marrow bone and freeze it. Buy a toy that spits out kibble as he rolls it. Let him see you hide treats in toys or paper bags throughout the house or yard.

Dog barking problems always have an underlying cause. To effectively treat the problem, first diagnose the cause.