If dog barking is driving you bonkers, it’s time to learn more about why it happens, what it all means, and how you can train your dog to bark less. Of course, dog barking is just a natural part of canine behavior, and it’s not possible to eradicate this canine behavior from your life; therefore, dealing with barking requires a philosophical attitude, as well as a spirit of love, respect and patience with regard to your loyal pet.
Dogs bark for a lot of reasons; for example, a canine might see something interesting, such as a car coming into your driveway, and then decide to relate this important new fact to you via his or her barking.
Puppies and adult dogs also express a range of emotions through their barking. If your pet is anxious, defensive, excited or just seeking a little attention and TLC from you (or someone else), barking may result, and this noise may seem incessant, especially when you’re tired and trying to relax. As well, barking may cause problems with the neighbors.
In fact, dog barking is one of the most common reasons why neighbors turn on each other, so it is important to learn some strategies for dealing with this common annoyance. However, whichever training method that you select to deal with dog barking, you must be certain that it is one hundred percent cruelty-free.
Your dog deserves kindness and should never be smacked or berated for his or her barking. Treat your pet as you would want to be treated. Positive reinforcement is an effective canine training method that works best for reducing barking. This type of dog training involves giving your dog a series of rewards whenever he or she succeeds at controlling the urge to bark.
By “shushing” your dog and then rewarding the blissful peace and quiet with a dog treat or a little affectionate playtime between you and your pet, you’ll practice positive reinforcement that really gets results.
Different Barks for Different Reasons
There are different types of barks for different situations and various canine thoughts, emotions and actions. Your dog has a limited range of ways to communicate with you and other dogs, so barking is pretty much at the top of the list in terms of easy communication that gets the point across.
Unfortunately, barking gets really loud sometimes, and it’s quite jarring to human ears. If you’re curious about dog barking and what different types of barks really mean, you’ll enjoy this point-form list of bark types and their perceived meanings:
Constant Barking – Seemingly-endless barking in the medium decibel range is usually a cue that your dog is signalling his “pack” (dogs are pack animals, after all) that there is a prospective issue; usually, this type of “animal instinct” barking means that your dog feels threatened (or aggressive) due to an intruder or other disturbance.
Intermittent Barking – Dogs that bark quickly, with short breaks in between barks, are mulling over the potential risks related to a stranger or situation. They are deciding whether or not there is a real problem, and whether or not they should escalate to constant barking. This type of barking is also usually in the medium decibel range.
Just a Few Barks – This type of barking is medium-range as well, but its meaning is far different. Usually, it is used to say, “Hi”.
One Bark – This is your dog’s way of saying, “Enough! Don’t do that anymore”. This is pretty simple to interpret based on what is happening during the single bark. You may wish to alter your behavior in some way if your dog does this a lot.
How to Minimize Dog Barking
To get positive reinforcement training to work as it relates to minimizing dog barking, you must build trust between you and your pet. In other words, a dog won’t listen to your commands and follow them unless he or she trusts you and wants to please you. You must play the role of pack leader or “Alpha Dog” to get results, but you must also be kind during the training process.
Your verbal and non-verbal cues should instruct your canine pal to lie flat, since dogs are less prone to barking in this position. Once you train your dog to lie down, you’ll be able to use this command to minimize or eliminate barking over the short term. When your dog becomes comfortable taking this order, you can use it whenever things get out of hand, and it will usually work well.
Yelling at your dog is not a great strategy when it comes to training your canine to stop barking. In your dog’s eyes, your shouts are simply barks and part of a lively conversation between the two of you, which means that your dog may bark even more when you shout or yell. Therefore, commands should be given in a calm, firm tone of voice that is strong, yet moderately pitched.
To make it all work, you need consistency in your training approach. People have different moods on different days, and this can take its toll on consistent dog training. To avoid missteps that set back your canine buddy’s progress, work hard to reward good behavior, and never lavish praise or attention on your barking pet, even if you feel the need for a little TLC after a rough day. Stay strong and persevere.
Now that you know more about dog barking and how to control it, you’ll be ready to start some positive reinforcement training that really gets results, while also helping you to grow closer to your loyal puppy or adult dog.