FAQ: How do I get my dog to stop barking???
I got a phone call today from a woman in Charlottesville, we’ll call her Pam, who was having a major issue with her Yorkshire Terrier’s barking. Pam and her husband live in an apartment complex and were worried all the dog’s barking was going to cause problems with their neighbors, in addition to the fact that the barking was already driving them nuts. So how do you get a dog to stop barking at everything??
The very first thing I recommend for barking is to increase your dog’s exercise by going on longer walks. Barking is very often a symptom of a dog having excess energy or being bored. Barking is a way for the dog to release some energy. Dogs need daily physical exercise to keep them feeling good. Using structured exercise as an outlet for their excess energy is much more appropriate and productive than barking. I also recommend increasing your dog’s mental stimulation. I told Pam she could spend some time during the day training her dog or teaching her dog some tricks. Puzzle toys and food dispensing toys are another way to increase mental stimulation. Making your dog work for their food at meal times by doing some commands or offering focus and attention is also a great way to get dogs using their brain. Playing games such as tug of war or fetch is another great option.
Once you know that your dog is getting their physical and mental exercise on a daily basis then you move onto training. I recommend teaching dogs that bark a lot a Quiet command. I have a lot of clients who don’t mind a little barking or who actually like the dog to bark at the door in the case of an unwanted visitor late at night when they’re home alone, but everyone wants the barking to stop when they ask. When your dog is barking say “Quiet” and (if they don’t stop barking immediately) follow the command with something the dog finds unpleasant such as a squirt of water from a spray bottle, a loud noise or a spray of air from a Pet Corrector. Another option is to say “Quiet” and then remove your dog from the room (put in their crate if you use a crate) for several minutes by themselves or until they are quiet if they continue barking even after removing them. Once your dog starts to understand that if they choose to keep barking when you give the Quiet command there are going to be consequences, they will start to respond positively to your command. If you give the Quiet command and your dog stops barking immediately, lavish your dog with praise and treats or perhaps something yummy to chew on.