Excessive barking can be a serious problem, especially if you live in the city or suburbs. It can drive you crazy, irritate neighbors, and result in violations of noise ordinances and fines.
All dogs bark, it’s their basic mode of communication. Some barking is okay, but what do you do when excessive barking becomes a problem? First, look at why your dog barks? Is he anxious? Bored? Territorial? Frustrated? Scared? Once you know the trigger, you can address the problem.
Create a Quiet Space
If your dog barks excessively when left home alone, he may have separation anxiety. Dogs are social animals and feel anxiety when left alone.
To ease anxiety, create a cozy space for your pet. Purchase a dog crate and place it in a quiet room. Dog crates replicate ancestral dens and help pets feel safe. Make the crate comfortable by placing a bed or blankets inside. I often cover the crate with a large blanket, which makes the crate feel cave like and eliminates outside distractions.
Rooney lying quietly in his crate. A crate provides a safe place and eliminates anxiety barking.
If your puppy is not used to the crate or barks excessively while inside it then practice putting your dog in it while you’re home. Give him special treats inside his crate. First, physically remain in the same room as your pet, then gradually move yourself to different rooms while he remains inside. Start with short periods in the crate and then gradually work up to longer stretches.
Provide Kong or Bully Sticks
Kongs, bully sticks, puzzles, and other special treats can stop excessive barking. Long lasting treats cure boredom, anxiety, and distract dogs from barking triggers. If my dog is devouring a tasty bone or treat outside, he is less likely to bark at dogs walking by our home.
Frozen Kongs stuffed with peanut butter deter boredom barking.
Frozen kongs deter barking by distracting dogs. Typically, I fill a kong with canned dog food, peanut butter, canned sweet potato, or any special food that you know your dog will love. For fun I experiment with different flavors, filling several kongs and placing them in the freezer. Once frozen your dog will have to work to get the treats free and lick the Kong clean. Puzzle treat dispensers work similarly, your dog must think to receive a treat, this exhausts them mentally and keeps them distracted.
Another pricier option to stop barking, are bully sticks and frozen cow femur bones. Bully sticks last longer than rawhide and most dogs prefer their flavor. Frozen cow femurs can be purchased at specialty pet stores in the freezer section. Like frozen kongs chewing frozen cow femurs is a yummy distraction that will mentally exhaust your puppy.
Remove the Stimulus
A privacy fence obstructs your dog’s view of the street and helps eliminate excessive territorial barking.
Some dogs bark in response to visual or auditory stimuli, when they hear or see a person or dog walking by their home. Some breeds are territorial and feel threatened while others bark socially. If your dog is inside and barks at pedestrians, then close the blinds or shades to eliminate the line of sight. Leave the radio or television on, so your pet doesn’t hear outside noises. If excessive barking in the yard is a problem, consider installing a privacy fence or plant large hedges that obstruct your dog’s view of the street.
A tired dog is a good dog. If a dog is mentally and physically tired, they bark less. If your dog barks excessively while you are away, take him on longer walks, or have an extra play session in the yard or the dog park. If you tire your dog out, it’s likely your pup will nap instead of bark all day.
Hire Outside Help
If you don’t have the time to tire out your dog, consider outside help. Exhaustion is a cure for boredom barking. Ask a neighbor to walk your dog or recruit a teen looking for an afterschool job. Dog walkers can be found on neighborhood websites such as www.nextdoor.com or www.rover.com.
To eliminate excessive barking, take your dog to doggy daycare. Dogs are pack animals, spending the day socializing with other dogs will tire your pooch out and provide much needed mental stimulation. When I was working full time outside the home, I found that a couple full days of daycare wore out my extremely high-energy hound for the week.
This is a picture of my citronella spray collar and an electric bark collar. Although some dogs respond to citronella, others may not. I recommend a rechargeable bark collar, so you don’t have to worry about replacing batteries.
Bark collars deter excessive barking. The collars detect vibrations in the dogs’ vocal chords. Citronella bark collars release a spray of citronella into the dogs face to disrupt the dog from nuisance barking. Shock collars emit an electric current when the dog barks. For bark collars to work, they must be tightened and secure against the dogs’ neck.
Another training tool is an ultrasonic device. The device emits an unpleasant sound that is inaudible to humans and deters excessive barking. The device can be placed outside or anywhere your dog (or neighbor’s dog) tends to bark.
Teach him to Speak and Quiet
It may seem counterintuitive, but when you teach your dog to speak you are on the road to teaching him to be quiet. First, find a toy, treat, or something that gets your dog excited. If a treat doesn’t work, try having someone knock on a door. Be patient and wait for a bark. As soon as your dog barks reward him with a treat and say, “yes”. Once your dog learns to bark with the trigger, use verbal cue such as “speak”. Remember to only reward barking when you ask your dog to speak.
Once our dog knows the command for speak. You can teach him “quiet”. After he speaks (barks) say quiet and reward with a treat when the barking stops.
My dog Rooney, practicing a “sit-stay” on leash, to deter excitement barking on-leash.
Work on basic training techniques to deter excessive barking. If a dog comes when called, then make him come to divert him from barking triggers like dogs passing by the house. When your pup comes reward him with a treat.
Teaching your dog to sit, stay, and place to stop barking. Dogs struggle to focus on two things at once. If your dog’s attention is on you, he won’t bark. If your dog barks on-leash when he sees dogs, then make him sit and stay and give him a high value treat when a dog appears.
Training takes time, patience, and repetition, but if applied consistently it will stop nuisance barking.
Excessive barking is a headache, but with training, patience, tools, and treats, you can stop the noise and create harmony with your pet.