A dog barking is as natural as a human talking, but at times it can feel endless and out of control. While your dog may eventually tire itself out from barking, the best way to put a stop to the excessive noise is to first figure out why your dog might be responding this way.
It might seem initially smart to wait out your dog’s tantrum, hoping it’ll figure out whatever problem it’s having on its own. But more often than not, your dog’s barking will be due to a physical or mental need not being met or an environment creating an unfit mood for your pup.
Why is my dog still barking?
The good news is that when dogs are barking, it is nearly always for a reason. Though it can feel like they’re barking out of self-satisfaction, the most common reasons are in response to their environment, including feeling alarmed, confused, bored, lonesome, excited, or stressed. Alternatively, your dog could be barking as a form of communication when it wants more food or needs to go outside.
The most difficult aspect of getting your dog to keep quiet is to figure out what stimulus is motivating that response in the first place. In some instances, fulfilling this external need is enough to bring back peace and quiet, like letting your dog outside when it’s standing at the door or closing the curtains when each passer-by seems to cause distress.
There is some evidence that suggests certain breeds of dogs bark more often or at a higher frequency than others, which is likely dependent on how their ancestors were bred. But like other characteristics, this trait varies between individual dogs. So while terriers may seem extra vocal and Basenjis not at all, this isn’t enough to indicate whether that will be true for your dog specifically.
How do I get my dog to stop barking?
It’s important to note that yelling at your dog to be quiet will usually not be an effective way to end the noise.
It isn’t until you’ve considered the reasons for your dog’s barking – whether excessive or not – that you can try different mechanisms to calm your dog down. If the stimulus is easy to identify, the most effective way would be to remove or fulfill your dog’s needs. But when your dog seems to be barking purposelessly is when you should take an alternative approach. This can include ignoring your dog’s behavior until it has settled down, as well as distracting your dog with toys to keep it occupied.
The most helpful solution, though, is through prevention. Keeping your dog well exercised and occupied with toys throughout the day can satisfy the energy your dog would usually spend on barking.
Alternatively, training your dog to respond differently to stimulants can reduce the amount of barking. For example, if your dog barks each time someone visits your home, you can use treats to gradually accustom your dog to those visitors so that the stimulus of the doorbell ringing or a new person entering does not trigger a vocal response. In these circumstances, positive reinforcement will serve much more effectively than shouting or ignoring.
Acknowledge Barking as Communication
While understanding what your dog wants or needs would be easier with words, learning that your dog’s behaviors and responses are a form of communication can be helpful in managing those responses. When you keep your training sessions positive, both you and your pup will benefit in the long run. As long as you’re consistent, eventually, your dog will learn to respond to stimulants in a better way.