Barking can be a major problem – not just for dog owners but their neighbours also.
There are 5 main reasons a dog barks, being: 1) an excited bark, 2) watchdog – guarding either territory or owner, 3) I want something barking, 4) fearful bark and 5) boredom barking.
The first step is to find out which sort of barking your dog is doing. If it’s excitement barking, this isnt usually a problem as it stops when the excitement does. Depending on the context and surroundings of the situation, if your dog gets over excited about playing with a toy, then you can come into conflict if other dogs are present so with this example, reward the dog for being more controlled and quiet.
For a watchdog/guarding bark, restrict access to windows and doors where he/she is stimulated by the activity that’s going on outside. Give the dog an interactive toy to occupy and redirect his or her attention. If it’s an ‘I want something’ bark, make the dog do something for the item and be careful to only reward when quiet, which will teach the dog that barking does not work.
A fearful bark is a little trickier to tackle as you need to identify the stimulation(s) which causes that particular response and a different approach to training will be required. If your dog is barking due to boredom, you need to find ways to occupy and stimulate him/her.
Make sure the dog is well exercised, as a tired dog is a good dog. Once the causes of your dog’s barking are under control you can pair the barking with a command and likewise, when you command the bark you can teach the dog to stop by placing a tasty treat in front of their nose. Say the command and when the dogs goes quiet, mark the correct behaviour with a “YES” and instantly reward.
If your dog persists with barking, you may require assistance from a behaviourist such as myself, whose specialist knowledge will help you create a quieter environment!