The recurring issue: stop barking dogs

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milk bone, ultrasonic bark control, dog correction collars

With America’s rediscovered craze of dogs (particularly of the smaller variety), this topic definitely deserves more coverage.  All dogs bark, but some dogs do it more than others to the point where it becomes a nuisance.  However, you can train your dog to keep from over exercising those vocal cords.

The Humane Society offers the following advice on minimizing – not eliminating – your dog’s barking.  The key to these methods is time, patience, and consistency.

Train your dog to respond to a “quiet” command.

This requires that you first teach your dog to bark or speak on command.

First, command your dog to “speak,” while having someone else make a noise that is sure to make it bark.  Repeat this a few times, then place a treat (like a milk bone) before your dog.  As soon as it begins to examine the treat and stops barking, give your dog the treat and praise it.  Training your dog to do this takes some time and patience.

When your dog has mastered barking on command, it’s time to teach it to be quiet on command too.  In a calm, distraction-free environment, give your dog the command to speak.  Once it starts barking, tell it “quiet” and offer a treat in front of its nose.  Praise your dog when it stops barking, and give it the treat.

Ignore your dog’s barking.

When you give the dog attention while it’s barking, it will interpret your attention as a reward for its behavior.  Refrain from talking, touching, and looking at your dog until barking ceases.  As soon as your dog pauses in its barking, even simply to take a breath, reward it with a treat and praise it.  Be patient and moreover, consistent: don’t yell at your dog in frustration, as you’ll only be rewarding bad behavior.  On the same note, petting or comforting your dog while it’s barking also encourages barking.

Start out small and reward your dog for being quiet for short periods of time.  A great idea is to make your lesson into a game: if the dog realizes that its silence offers a reward, then lengthen the amount of time it must be quiet to be rewarded.

Find what’s making your dog bark and remove it.

Your dog barks because it’s getting some sort of reward out of it.  Thus, removing the motivation for barking will also eliminate any opportunity for your dog to exercise barking behavior.

For instance, if your dog barks at passersby outside the living room window, then close the curtains or move your dog in another room; if it barks at people and animals from the front yard, then bring your dog inside, away from the passersby.

Desensitize your dog to whatever’s causing to it to bark.

I couldn’t understand why my dog kept barking this morning – until I realized that he was set off by my new cell phone charm, which had a jingling bell on it.  Your dog might bark at something it’s alarmed at or afraid of.

Get your dog used to whatever stimulates its barking.  Start by exposing your dog to the stimulus for its barking at a distance: far enough that your dog won’t bark at its sight. Slowly move the stimulus closer, feeding treats along the way.  Stop giving your dog treats when the stimulus is out of sight.  This teaches your dog that stimulus’s appearance can leads to positive things.

Be patient, as this method can take days to weeks until you reach significant improvement in barking.  Behavior professionals can definitely help if the problem is beyond your scope.

Take disciplinary methods:

Fill a spray bottle with water.  When your dog barks, give it a squirt of water while saying “no” in a displeased tone.

Technology can help extreme cases.  An ultrasonic bark control system operates on the principle of negative reinforcement, emitting a two-second ultrasonic sound every time your dog barks.  Your dog will grow to associate this unpleasant sound with its barking.  Other electronics can be found on the market, like electronic “shock” or spray dog correction collars.

Dog experts do not recommend ever hitting a dog – this can cause injury, psychological problems, and may even breed aggression in your pet.

Before I sign off: Your pooch shred up all your pillows?  Probably high time to replace them, and what better a replacement than this beautiful Rose Black and White Pillows Set of Two, or the Wheatfield Square Spaghetti Pillow?  You’ll wish he’d done it sooner!

-Kim

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