Before covering humane ways to stop dog barking perhaps we should look at why dog bark in the first place. Dogs are not too unlike babies in that they have a means of communication but the person who should understand that signal often does not.
When a dog is barking it is usually for one of several reasons:
Territorial/Protective: When a person or an animal comes into an area your dog considers his territory, that often triggers excessive barking. As the threat gets closer, the barking often gets louder. Your dog will look alert and even aggressive during this type of barking.
Alarm/Fear: Some dogs bark at any noise or object that catches their attention or startles them. This can happen anywhere, not just in their home territory.
Boredom/Loneliness: Dogs are pack animals. Dogs left alone for long periods, whether in the house or in the yard, can become bored or sad and often will bark because they are unhappy.
Greeting/Play: Dogs often bark when greeting people or other animals. It’s usually a happy bark, accompanied with tail wags and sometimes jumping.
Attention Seeking: Dogs often bark when they want something, such as going outside, playing, or getting a treat.
Separation Anxiety/Compulsive Barking: Dogs with separation anxiety often bark excessively when left alone. They also usually exhibit other symptoms as well, such as pacing, destructiveness, depression, and inappropriate elimination. Compulsive barkers seem to bark just to hear the sound of their voices. They also often make repetitive movements as well, such as running in circles or along a fence.
The easiest way to ensure that your dog’s needs are being met are to understand your dog. Dogs are not people. They are animals that have specific needs and function in a specific way. They need daily exercise for both the mind and body. They need discipline to feel safe and then they need affection.
We as people tend to want to dot on them affection, as we would an infant, when our puppies really want and need security in the form of understanding where they fit in in our world. Keeping your dog from barking is more a function of understanding and meeting their needs than it is of simply trying to make them be quiet.
With that said here are 5 humane ways to stop dog barking.
The first is the easiest if you have trained your dog properly. That is to simply tell them to be quiet with a voice command that is calm or a non verbal command. You need to make sure you have your dogs attention up until he decides he has changed his focus. Your dog might respond to the quiet command but not be ready to give up what he is trying to communicate. Giving your dog a clue that you understand what they are barking at might also help them to relax and give up the barking.
Making sure you maintain your composure is the second say to stop barking. The more upset you get the less likely it is that your dog will respond positively to your commands. Dogs want their leaders to be in control. If you are not in control the dog will likely think they need to be in charge to protect you as well as themselves. This is usually not a healthy situation.
Often excessive barking is a result of boredom. Make sure that you exercise your dog every day. This stimulates their mind and their body. Walking a dog is also good for your health!
Redirecting their attention when they are barking is another human way to stop dog barking. If you dog is barking at a car, another dog or even other people, getting them to focus on something else, not a treat, can get them to forget what they were barking about. Giving your dog another command, such as sit or lay down or to go fetch something might help re channel the barking into something positive that they can be rewarded for.
And finally, if your dog barks excessively it could be because they lack routine. Dogs love routine. They like to know that they can expect a certain amount of activity to occur at roughly the same time each day. If you get in the habit of walking your dog, or playing with them in the yard at a certain part of each day they will come to expect that. Much like potty training has to do with routine, humanely keeping your dog from barking also needs routine and consistency.
Your dog is probably not going to quit barking overnight, but if you work with him consistently, looking for clues as to why he is barking, over time your dog won’t be barking excessively any longer.