Noel Pepin Canine Behaviour Specialists
Noel Pepin Canine Behaviour Specialists

And the Barking Continued and Continued...

Every neighborhood has at least one excessive barker and some neighborhoods have many. Yes, we're talking about those dogs that bark at anything and everything. Like humans, dogs want to express themselves, and like some humans, some dogs tend to express themselves too loudly and too enthusiastically.

Excessive barkers are not always born that way. In most cases barking is a conditioned behavior. When that cute puppy arrives home at 8 weeks, we often inadvertently encourage barking behavior. Puppy is usually introduced to a crate, a safe and effective way to speed housetraining. When puppy is placed in the crate it generally whines and barks, expressing frustration and upset about being confined. Owners often release puppy in the middle of a puppy tantrum, usually when whining or barking is loudest. Puppy soon learns if it barks long and loud it can manipulate its caring owner.

As puppy matures we tend to continue to reward loud behavior. When puppy whines and barks outside, we don't want to annoy the neighbors so we let puppy in. Puppy soon learns it can control our actions and get its own way if it barks loudly and persistently.

All of nature's creatures, including humans, want to manipulate their environment. To help puppy learn to control barking, we must be thoughtful and consistent in our approach to training. When we put puppy in their crate we should expect some whining and barking. We need to let puppy work through their vocal tantrum, and only when they become quiet should we let them out to play.

When outside, give puppy something to chew or to play with and then call puppy inside before it begins to whine and bark. Ideally, puppy should only be let into the house when it is quiet and respectful.

Teach puppy to bark on command so it can know the difference between barking and quiet. Take a dog treat and entice puppy as you say, "Bark". When the puppy gives you a whine or a bark say, "Good bark", and give puppy the treat. Repeat this routine until puppy responds enthusiastically. Then change the rules!

Ask puppy to bark. When they respond excitedly, anticipating a treat, say "Quiet". Gently hold their muzzle closed. Immediately say, "Good quiet" and release your grip and reward their "quiet" with a treat. Repeat this routine frequently. Sometimes reward puppy for barking and sometimes reward for responding to "quiet". Once puppy understands the difference between vocalizing and being silent, we can transfer these expectations to walks or when they are outside.

If your dog continues to bark in spite of your best training efforts, then you can use a bark collar to stop nuisance barking. Bark collars emit a small static shock or an unpleasant spray of citronella when the dog barks. Dogs quickly stop barking and whining because they dislike the associated aversive.

Dogs are quick and capable learners. Reward them for the behaviors you want to encourage and they will respond willingly. Be firm, fair and consistent.

Noel Pepin -- Noel Pepin Canine Behaviour Specialists

Noel Pepin Canine Behaviour Specialists