Dogs use barking as a way to communicate. They may bark to call a pack member, ask for attention, and announce they are not happy when left alone, or they may bark to ward off a predator. Generally, barking is instinctual, and some breeds are actually bred to bark in performance of their job, such as herding dogs, or guardians of their stock, and dogs that are bred for protection of their territory and humans. Barking can also be a learned behavior, either through another dog or amplified by seeing that it is effective. An example could be, when I am left alone, and I start barking, a human comes in the room. So the dog learns that barking works. Or, a dog might bark at a bike coming at them, and when they start barking… “the bike leaves……did you see that, I scared him off”!

Unfortunately, dogs probably don’t understand that barking can be annoying to humans. So as humans we need to start with understanding why the dog barks. From there we can approach a solution for the behavior of barking in prevention through management, or working on a behavior program that teaches your dog to be quiet through effective training methods.

One possible remedy:

Teach your dog the commands of "bark" and "quiet". This could be the answer to tell your dog when it is appropriate to bark. In order to do this, coordinate efforts with a friend. Stand just outside the front door, maybe with the front door cracked open, so you can hear each other, when you tell your dog “speak” the friend pushes the doorbell button, and you reward your dog after it barks (speaks). After you have taught your dog to speak on command, now you need to teach your dog to be quiet on command. For the second part of this exercise, tell your dog to speak, once he starts barking, give the command “quiet”, and hold a tasty treat in front of his nose. Since he won’t be able to eat and bark, he will stop barking. The moment he is quiet say “yes” with a happy face, and reward him for not barking. Repeat the second exercise several times so that he figures out when you say quiet he learns to be quiet on command.   

Also, always consider if you can stop the barking by simply covering shades or blinds so you dog doesn’t see the stimulus that is causing the barking.


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