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A brown and white dog sits on the floor barking.

HOW TO GET YOUR DOG TO STOP BARKING

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Sometimes, even the best behaved dog might develop the habit of nuisance barking due to boredom or the sights and sounds around them. This is not a great way to make friends with your neighbors, and unpleasant for you to have to listen to for any length of time. However, yelling at your dog to stop barking is counterproductive, as your dog just thinks you’re barking along with them. Here are a number of recommended methods to stop your dog from barking.

Ignorance is Bliss

If your dog is barking to get your attention, the best thing to do is to ignore them, because giving them any attention – even negative attention – can serve as a reward for the bad behavior. Don’t respond or even make eye contact until they are quiet for several seconds, and then give them what they want. This avoids reinforcing the negative behavior, which will hopefully stop over time as the dog realizes barking doesn’t achieve the desired outcome.

Boredom Barking

If your dog barks because they’re bored, make sure they have an adequate amount of physical and mental exercise before you leave in the morning. A tired dog is more likely to rest when you’re not at home. Try to come home to walk your dog mid-day or pay a walker if necessary. And get some stimulating toys (dog puzzles, automatic ball throwers, etc.) that you can swap in and out to keep them occupied.

Turf Wars

If your dog barks at people or animals passing by a window, an easy first step is to manage the behavior by closing the curtains or putting your dog in another room. Often, dogs may bark at people or other dogs if they haven’t been socialized well enough, so providing more opportunities for your dog to have positive experiences with different people and dogs, or some socialization training with a professional trainer will do the trick.

Teach the “Quiet” Command

Be prepared with some high value treats (small pieces of cheese, hotdog, or chicken), and take your leashed dog to a place where they are often triggered to bark (e.g. your front door or balcony). When your dog starts barking, wait for a brief break in the barking. The instant they pause, place a tasty treat right in front of their nose and say in a calm, firm voice, “quiet.” Give a few more treats while they remain quiet (because they’re busy sniffing and eating the treat) to reinforce the behavior you’re after. Practise for five minutes twice a day for a few weeks, then start using the command in random situations when your dog barks.

If these tips are unsuccessful, or your dog displays signs of more severe separation anxiety, a professional dog trainer may be able to help. There are also anti-anxiety medications for dogs that a veterinarian can prescribe. For more tips on living your best life, check out the other posts at the Mosaic Dallas blog.

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