STOP THE YAPPING: WAYS TO STOP YOUR DOG BARKING
When I was a teenager I used to have a paper round. I felt so sorry for the people who had little yappy dogs. As soon as I would approach their garden, they would start this high, piercing bark. I would remember the houses that had noisy dogs and try and get the newspaper ready to move on as quickly as possible. The noise drove me insane, even for that short sprint from their house to the next few until gradually I had put enough distance between me and the dog that the racket faded.
When I got a dog of my own, I was determined not to end up with one of these noisy dogs. To this day, I can’t understand how the owners of those dogs tolerated the little yapping noise every time someone walked past their house. So, I trained my dog to stop the yapping while he was still a puppy and found it to be much easier than expected.
SHOUTING WON’T WORK
There is a temptation to just shout “shut up!” at the top of your lungs, but this won’t work. It might shock the dog into stopping momentarily but won’t solve the problem and your dog will start again as soon as it sees something else to set it off.
If your dog is barking excessively, it could be that it is bored and wants attention. Going outside and shouting at the dog is only giving it what it wants. It will learn that the way to get you to notice it is by loudly barking, at which point you come out and reinforce the behaviour.
EXERCISE AS A TREATMENT
Barking can be a manifestation of built-up energy or an excitable reaction to a stimulant from outside. If you are walking your dog regularly and tiring it out enough, firstly it won’t have the energy to excitedly run to the window over every little occurrence, but also it will have been stimulated enough that the sight of a human at the window won’t particularly interest it. When trying to stop your dog from barking, the first thing to do is ensure you have a good walking timetable which tires the dog out.
CORRECT THE BEHAVIOUR
Reward your dog when they are not barking or reacting to external stimulus. If the postman or a guest arrives and your dog doesn’t bark, take the time to reward them with a treat. Like a child, ignoring the dog’s good behaviour but scolding the bad, only shows them that the way to get attention is to behave badly.
This is much easier to do when your dog is tired from walking. Tire them out, then arrange for someone to approach the gate or the house. Hopefully your dog will be so exhausted that they can’t muster more than a head raise or a quiet look in the general direction of the visitor. Then reward the behaviour until eventually this is their response, even when they are not tired.
Using a bark collar is a great option, especially when you have an animal that hasn’t been trained properly from a younger age and you need an instant fix – a constantly barking dog could mean you end up without anywhere to live.
There are downsides to bark collars too. As they administer electric shocks or a squirt of the bitter tasting citronella to the dog, every time the dog bars, there are two reasons why these aren’t ideal. Firstly, they are sensitive to other noises. So, if you start vacuuming or a neighbour’s dog barks, it will likely pick that up as a dog bark and shock your dog. This isn’t fair to the animal as it is being punished for things it hasn’t done. Secondly, it doesn’t deal with the underlying issue of why the dog is barking. Using positive reward with a good walking regime is a far better way of solving the issue if you have the luxury of time to do so.
Is there anything you can add to this article? What can be done about a barking dog that is driving everyone insane?