There’s a bark for every dog, from high-pitched yips to booming ruffs. A dog’s barking sound depends on the animal’s size, breed and age; a Saint Bernard puppy differs from an elderly Chihuahua, and neither sound anything like a German Shepherd. If you’re looking for a protective pet, like a watchdog, you encourage your dog’s barking. Noise level may not matter for rural pet parents (or those with soundproofing) but for the rest of us, persistent dog barking is a problem. There are plenty of humane solutions to stop dog barking, so try a few and see what works.
1. Remove the temptation to bark.
Most of the time a dog’s barking is prompted by something in its environment. Passing people and dogs as well as traffic noises like sirens and brakes are frequent triggers. Out of sight, out of mind is especially true for dogs; close the curtains to thwart your pup’s dog-calls to other pets. Never leave your pet unsupervised in an unfenced backyard, or one easily jumped over. Nothing is worse to neighbors than an incessantly barking dog – sound carries farther than you think.
Beeping and braking trucks are the bane of dogs’ existence. If you have a recurring delivery or garbage truck that drives your dog nuts, try getting out of the house for a bit during its scheduled arrival. Close all windows, doors and blinds to muffle exterior noises that are absolutely unavoidable.
2. Give a barking dog the cold shoulder.
The sharp, repetitive sound of a dog barking drives most people to yell or shout, “Stop!” Unsurprisingly, dogs do not respond to this command, as they do not speak English. (How much easier would our lives be?!) Yelling only adds to the cacophony of noise being produced by your pet or will scare your pet into submission, not exactly the right idea either. Many dogs bark to get attention – by acknowledging the noise, you’re giving him exactly what he wants!
To train your dog to stop barking, ignore him until he stops completely, even turning your back on him. Resist the urge to turn around or say anything; your pup will get the hint and quiet down. When he does, make sure to properly reward your dog.
3. Try to desensitize your dog.
If you’ve ever moved to the big city, you know how loud the first few nights can be. Dogs can hear frequencies almost two times higher than humans and have a hearing range four times greater than us. Passersby can set off a dog’s barking, especially if your pup is territorial or a guard dog breed. Walk around a some dog-friendly public spaces to desensitize your pet to peoples’ presence. However, if you do want your dog to bark when strangers approach your home, be sure to praise him – after you’ve checked who’s at the door. If other dogs are the issue, try ignoring the barking; when your dog stops, give both pets treats.
To desensitize your dog to traffic noises, spend some time downtown or near a busy intersection. Make sure you always have your dog’s leash firmly in hand – a scared dog can bolt – and ease into the process, especially if your pet seems anxious or uncomfortable.
4. A tired dog is a quiet dog.
There’s no better way to guarantee your dog’s silence than by wearing her out. Large dog breeds tend to be the biggest barkers, and they also require the most daily exercise. Plan walks or runs before triggering times, like a dinner party or the mail delivery, or toss the ball around in your backyard. Just like humans, dogs need 20 to 30 minutes of exercise daily, and big dog breeds need even more.
Guarantee your dog’s beauty sleep with the best dog bed for his age and size. Orthopedic beds with memory foam will keep even the lightest of sleepers conked out. A padded dog crate can further insulate dreamers from noise; drape a sheet over the crate to dampen sound even more. Keep your pet’s crate or bed in a quiet, safe space away from the household’s hustle and bustle.
5. Provide a distraction.
If you can’t beat ’em, distract ’em. Dogs are notorious for having a short attention span – “Squirrel?!” – so take advantage of this to stop dogs’ barking. Give your pup something else to do with his mouth, like chew or fetch a favorite toy. A bored dog is more likely to people-watch or notice annoying noises, instigating barking, and is also more prone to anxiety and destructive behaviors. It can be hard to tell how often or long your dog’s barking is, especially if you leave your pet at home during the day. A canine companion may provide enough entertainment or she could be a partner in crime, joining in on the barking sprees.
6. Trick your dog into not barking.
Another sneaky way to stop your dog from barking is to control when and how he does it. Teach your dog to bark on command by giving praise and treats when he barks when you say, “Speak!” After you’ve got that down, focus on stopping the barking; give the command but this time award praise after a successful “Quiet.” This route may take some time, and some particularly stubborn dogs may not catch on. You can also command a barking dog to do another trick that interrupts the barking, like “playing dead” or shaking paws, as a useful distraction.
(Featured image via Flickr.com/throughpaintedeyes)