While inappropriate barking can make you want to pull your hair out at times, it’s important to remember that it’s a natural behavior for your pup. Barking is the way he communicates and of course he’s going to feel the need to alert you when an intruder is approaching (by “intruder” I really mean a friendly neighbor)!
There are a few things you can do to get your dog to stop barking at inappropriate times. It’s important to note that these tips aren’t an overnight fix. Be patient and stick with it, though, and you will begin to notice a change in your pup’s behavior.
1) Stay calm
When your dog barks do you have the tendency to yell something like “NOOOOOOO” or “STOOOPPP?” While you think you’re telling your dog to stop barking, they just think you’re joining in. So yelling won’t do you much good. Instead, when your dog starts barking inappropriately it’s important to stay calm. Develop a signal that alerts your dog to stop barking. That signal could be a look, sound, or physical correction. Below, I will go over the “quiet” command.
2) Remove the motivation
Before you can fix the problem you must know what’s causing it. Why is your dog barking? Is your dog going crazy because he sees someone out the window? If so, close the blinds. Is your dog barking at passersby when he’s in the yard? If so, bring him in the house. Is your dog barking for attention? If so, ignore your dog until he quiets down. Is your dog barking because he’s bored? If so, go for a run!
3) Teach the “quiet” command
Rockstar dog trainer Victoria Stillwell recommends teaching the “quiet” command in two steps, beginning with a “bark” command.
When your dog barks, praise him and use a verbal cue such as “bark.” Get him to associate barking with the word “bark.”
When your pooch begins to understand what “bark” means encourage him to bark.
When your dog stops barking give him a different treat and use the vocal cue “quiet.” Get him to associate the action of not barking with the word “quiet.”
Continue training until both cues are strong.
4) Desensitize your dog
The goal is to get your dog used to whatever it is that’s causing the barking. For example, if your dog barks at people outside the window then sit with him as he looks out the window. When someone approaches pull out the treats, tell him “quiet,” and wait for your dog to stop barking. When he does, praise him and give him a treat. Gradually increase the time he must be quiet before giving a treat. The goal here is to get your dog to associate the stimulus with positivity (rather than barking).
Dogs tend to act up when they get bored. To eliminate barking from boredom or frustration, make sure your pup is getting sufficient physical and mental exercise every day.