Of all the canine behaviors, barking is complex, sometimes it is wanted and other times it is NOT wanted. When a dog is barking out of protection you reward them, but when they are barking for you it is a nuisance you don’t want to reward them. However you might still be rewarding your dog when it is nuisance barking and not realize it. Barking is misunderstood and mismanaged. A dog does not bark to annoy you or your neighbors. They bark out of a natural release of their emotions and to communicate with other dogs, animals and people.
1. Warning there is something wrong
2. Preparing to be aggressive or bite
3. They are frustrated
4. They are excited
5. They are bored
6. They enjoy barking, they want to be noticed
7. They are fearful or anxious
It is possible to change your dog’s barking pattern but if your dog is barking out of aggression, fear or anxiety it is important to seek professional help.
You might be inadvertently rewarding your dog for barking. For instance if your dog barks each time there is a knock at the door or noise above you or below you and you give him a treat to get him to stop barking then every time this happens the dog is going to bark because he is rewarded.
Punishing a dog may further agitate him or yelling at a dog he might think you are barking with him. You want to reward the dog when he is quiet.
So what can you do to train your dog to be a good neighbor? Teach your dog to be “quiet”. First you want to teach your dog to speak and then teach him “quiet”. You always want to overly reward the “quiet” behavior. When playing ball or Frisbee and your dog comes back to you with it, drops it and starts barking, you want to wait to throw the ball or Frisbee until the dog is “quiet”. That means his mouth is shut! Or when your dog starts barking, make a small noise, such as a kissing sound or a quiet clap, or a cluck of the tongue. When you have his attention (no barking); tell him what you want him to do such as sit or lay “down” and then reward this behavior. So when he is barking and you say sit, he stops barking, sits and you reward him.
The best way to stop unwanted barking is to prevent the behavior from happening. Leaving curtains or blinds open, your dog can see other dogs, people and animals through the window. So close the blinds or restrict access to rooms where he can see outside. If he barks at noises he hears from neighbors play music or turn on the TV to drown out the noise. When you are home and he hears noises and barks then use the quiet method and this will desensitize him to barking when he hears noises.
When you are at work and your dog is alone all day, give him a Kong filled with a yummy treat, or dog puzzles for him to be rewarded , or bones that are appropriate to his size and chew. Hire a pet sitter/dog walker to come in and give him a potty break, play time or walk to help with his energy and boredom.
You want to be a good neighbor and it is possible to have a dog that is one too!