Do you have a nuisance barking dog? It's time to teach him how to be quiet! This article is specifically for dogs that bark to get attention. This can happen when you are working in a different room and your hound barks to get you to interact with him, if he is in the yard alone, or many other circumstances. If you think your canine friends barks for other reasons (fear, excitement, guarding, boredom, etc.) go to the main Dog Barking page for specific help to your problem.
Your hound might be barking for attention, and guess what? You are probably giving him what he wants. That is why he keeps on barking! This is basic operant conditioning, which is how dogs learn. To stop nuisance barking, you need to make this work for you by rewarding quiet behaviors instead.
What kind of attention are you giving your dog? It could be anything! From petting to scolding. The problem is that your pet will take ANY form of interaction with you as a reward, sometimes even scolding (which stops being a punishment and starts becoming a reward instead).
Sometimes it is obvious that you are inadvertently rewarding your pet for attention. For example, when he barks, you quietly pet him and ask him to be quiet. He is getting attention and petting! Your canine friend is learning that when he barks, he gets what he likes.
Some cases are a little harder to figure out. For example, your hound jumps at your lap and barks for attention. You push him away and say "shush!". He keeps on coming back for more…Your furry friend now thinks this is a game! And a fun one too…
Your first task is to figure out what is it that you are doing to make your dog bark for attention. Here are some examples to help you think about it:
First: You must take the reward away (whatever it was you were doing that kept encouraging your pet to bark). Stop paying attention to your canine friend when he is barking. This is a difficult task in the beginning because he will try harder and harder and you MUST NOT give in until he stops!
The idea is to extinguish the barking behavior by taking away the reward. Learn more about extinction in this article.
Second: You need to start rewarding your hound for quiet behaviors. We are often so rushed at noticing bad behavior but ignore our pets when they are calm. You should be doing the exact opposite!
Pet your puppy when he is laying down calmly somewhere. Praise him or give him a treat for being quiet in the house. This article gives you more information on how to train your hound to settle on command. You can also teach him to quiet on command.
Third: Teach your dog an incompatible behavior if applicable. What is this?
This method is particularly useful for dogs that bark at guests when they arrive at your home or when they bark at other people or dogs you encounter on the street.
The idea is to teach your hound to do something different than barking. Ideally something that will prevent him for barking, like getting a toy (which will cover his mouth). Teaching him to sit and stay is another example. All you have to do is ask your pet to sit and stay right after the bell rings, or if you see a person or dog approach you while on walks. Then reward him!
Start training this when people or dogs are far away. This gives your pet the chance to succeed at your request. As he gets better and better you can make it more and more difficult too. You want to make your command a reliable one.
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