Barking

Any dog owner knows that dogs bark for many reasons, most commonly, for attention. Your BC may bark for play, attention, or because it is close to feeding time and he wants you to feed him. Dogs also bark to warn intruders and us, so we need to understand why our dog is barking. Not all barking is bad. Some dogs are short duration barkers, and others can go on for hours, we do not want that and either do our neighbors.

Whatever the case do not give your dog attention for barking. Do not send the signals that your dogs barking gets an immediate reaction from you, such as you coming to see why he is barking or moving towards him. As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, they do sometimes bark to warn us, so we should not ignore all barking, we need to assess the barking situation before dismissing it as nonsense barking.

When you know the cause is a negative behavior that needs correction, say, “leave it” and ignore him. While not looking at your dog go to the other side of the room, or into another room, you can even close the door behind you until your dog has calmed down. Make it clear to your barking dog that his barking does not result in any rewards or attention.

In everyday life, make sure you are initiating activities that your dog enjoys and always happening on your schedule. You are the alpha leader so regularly show your pup who is in charge. Also, make sure that he earns what he is provided. Have your pup sit before he gets any reward.

Your dog may bark when seeing or hearing something interesting. Below are a few ways to deal with this issue.

Prevention when you are at your residence

Teach your dog the command “quiet.” When your dog barks, wave a piece of food in front of his nose at the same time you are saying, “Quiet.” When he stops barking to sniff, click and treat him right away. Do this about four or five times. Then the next time he barks, pretend you have a piece of food in your hand next to his nose and say, “quiet.” Always click and treat him as soon as he stops barking. After issuing the “quiet” command, click and treat him again for every few seconds that he remains quiet.

Eventually, as you make your way to five or ten seconds, gradually increase the time duration between the command “quiet,” and clicking and treating.

Prevent it. Block the source of sound or sight so that your dog is unable to see or hear the catalyst that is sparking his barking. Use a fan, stereo, TV, curtains, blinds, or simply put him in a different area of the house to keep him away from the stimulus.

– When your pup hears or sees something that would typically make him bark and he does not bark,reward him with attention, play, or a treat. This is reinforcing and shaping good behaviors instead of negative behaviors.

The Time Out

– Yes you can you can use a time out on your dog, but do not use it too often. When you give your dog a time out, you are taking your dog out of his social circle and giving your dog what is known as a negative punishment.

This kind of punishment is powerful and can have side effects that you do not want. Your dog may begin to fear you when you walk towards him, especially if you have the irritated look on your face that he recognizes as the time out face. The time out should be used sparingly. Instead, focus on teaching your dog the behaviors that you prefer while preventing the bad behavior.

Choose a place where you want the time out spot to be located. Make sure that this place is not the relief spot, crate, or his play area. Ideally it is a boring place that is somewhere that is not scary, not too comfortable, but safe. A gated pantry or the bathroom can work well.

Secure a 2-foot piece of rope or a short leash to your puppy’s collar. When your pup barks, use a calm voice and give the command, “time out,” then take the rope and walk him firmly but gently to the time out spot. Leave him there for about 5 minutes, longer if necessary. When your dog is calm and not barking, release him. You may need to do this two to a dozen times before he understands which behavior has put him into the time out place. Most dogs are social and love being around their humans, so this can have a strong impact.

Prevention when you are away from your residence

– Again, prevent barking by blocking the sounds or sights that are responsible for your dog or puppy going into barking mode. Use a fan, stereo, curtain, blinds, or keep him in another part of the house away from the stimulus.

– Use a Citronella Spray Collar. Only use this for when the barking has become intolerable. Do not use this when the barking is associated with fear or aggression. You will want to use this a few times when you are at home, so that your dog understands how it works.

Citronella collars work like this. The collar has a sensitive microphone, which senses when your dog is barking, when this happens it triggers a small release of citronella spray into the area above a dog’s nose. It surprises the dog and disrupts barking by emitting a smell that dogs dislike.

Out walking

While you are out walking your dog, out of shear excitement or from being startled, he might bark at other dogs, people, cars, and critters. This can be a natural reaction or your dog may have sensitivities to certain tones, the goal is to try to limit the behavior and quickly cease the barking.

Here are some helpful tools to defuse that behavior.

– Teach your dog the “watch me” command. Begin this training in the house in a low distraction area. While you hold a treat to your nose, say your dog’s name and “watch me.” When your dog looks at the treat for at least one second give him a click and treat. Repeat this about 10-15 times. Then increase the time that your dog looks at you to 2-3 seconds, and repeat a dozen times.

– Then, repeat the process while pretending to have a treat on your nose. You will then want to incorporate this hand to your nose as your hand signal for watch me. Click and treat when your dog looks at you for at least one second, then increase to two or three seconds, and click and treat after each goal. Repeat this about 10-15 times.

– Increase the duration that your dog will continue to watch you while under the command. Click and treat as you progress. Try to keep your dog’s attention for 5-10 seconds. Holding your dog’s attention for this length of time usually results in the catalyst for him to move away from the area or to lose interest.     

– Now, practice the “watch me” command while you are walking around inside the house. Then practice this again outside. When outside, practice near something he finds interesting. Practice in a situation that he would normally bark. Continue practicing in different situations and around other catalysts that you know will produce your dog barking.

This is a great way to steer attention towards you and away from your dog’s barking catalysts.

Other Solutions

– When you notice something that normally makes your dog bark and he has not begun to bark, use the “quiet” command. For example, your dog regularly barks at the local skateboarder. When the trigger that provokes your dog’s barking, the skateboarder comes zooming by, use the command “quiet,” and click and treat. Click and treat your dog for every few seconds that he remains quiet. Teach your dog that his barking trigger gets him a “quiet” command. Your dog will begin to associate the skateboarder with treats and gradually it will diminish his barking outbursts at the skateboarder.

– If he frequently barks while a car is passing by, put a treat by his nose, and then bring it to your nose. When he looks at you, click and treat him. Repeat this until he voluntarily looks at you when a car goes by and does not bark, continuing to treat him appropriately.

– You can also reward your dog for calm behavior. When you see something or encounter something that he would normally bark at and he does not, click and treat your dog. Instead of treats, sometimes offer praise and affection.

– If you are out walking and your dog has not yet learned the quiet cue, or is not responding to it, turn around and walk away from whatever is causing your dog to bark. When he calms down, offer a reward.

– As a last resort use the citronella spray collar if your dogs barking cannot be controlled using the techniques that you have learned. Use this only when the barking is not associated with fear or aggression.

Your dog is Afraid, Aggressive, Lonely, Territorial, or Hung-over

Your dog may have outbursts when he feels territorial, aggressive, lonely, or afraid. All of these negative behaviors can be helped with proper and early socialization, but occasionally they surface. Many times rescue dogs might have not been properly socialized and bring their negative behaviors into your home. Be patient while you are teaching your new dog proper etiquette. Some breeds, especially watch and guarding breeds are prone to territorialism and it can be a challenge to limit their barking.

– This is not a permanent solution, but is a helpful solution while you are teaching your dog proper barking etiquette. To allow your dog a chance to find his center, relax his mind and body, do this for about seven to ten days before beginning to train against barking. As a temporary solution, you should first try to prevent outbursts by crating, gating, blocking windows, using fans or music to hide sounds, and avoid taking your dog places that can cause these barking outbursts.

SOME TIPS

– Always, remain calm, because a relaxed and composed alpha achieves great training outcomes. A confident, calm, cool, and collected attitude that states you are unquestionably in charge goes a long way in training.

– If training is too stressful or not going well, you may want to hire a professional positive trainer for private sessions. When interviewing, tell him or her that you are using a clicker and rewards based training system and are looking for a trainer that uses the same type or similar methods.

It is important to help your dog to modify his thinking about what tends to upset him. Teach him that what he was upset about before now predicts his favorite things. Here is how.

– When the trigger appears in the distance, click and treat your dog. Keep clicking and treating your dog as the two of you proceed closer to the negative stimulus.

– If he is territorially aggressive, teach him that the doorbell or a knock on the door means that is his cue to get into his crate and wait for treats. You can do this by ringing the doorbell and luring your dog to his crate and once he is inside the crate giving him treats.

– You can also lure your dog through his fears. If you are out walking and encounter one of his triggers, put a treat to his nose and lead him out and away from the trigger zone.

– Use the “watch me” command when you see him getting nervous or afraid. Click and treat him frequently for watching you.

– Reward calm behavior with praise, toys, play, or treats.

For the hangover, I recommend lots of sleep.

Your dog is frustrated, bored or both

All dogs including your dog or puppy may become bored or frustrated. At these times, your dog may lose focus, not pay attention to you, and spend time writing bad poetry in his journal. Here are a few things that can help prevent this:

– Keep him busy and tire him out with chew toys, exercise, play, and training. These things are a cure for most negative behaviors. A tired dog is usually happy to relax and enjoy quiet time.

– He should have at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise per day. In addition to the aerobic exercise, each day he should have an hour of chewing and about 15 minutes of training. Keep it interesting for him with a variety of activities. It is, after all, the spice of life.

– Use the command “quiet” or give your dog a time out.

– As a last resort, you can break out the citronella spray collar.

Excited to Play

– Like an actor in the wings, your puppy will get excited about play. Teach your dog that when he starts to bark, the playtime stops. Put a short leash on him and if he barks, use it to lead him out of play sessions. Put your dog in a time out or just stop playing with your dog. Reward him with more play when he calms down.

Armed with these many training tactics to curb and stop barking, you should be able to gradually reduce your dogs barking, and help him to understand that some things are not worth barking. Gradually you will be able to limit the clicking and treating, but it is always good practice to reward your dog for not barking. Reward your dog with supersized treat servings for making the big breakthroughs.

~ Paws On – Paws Off ~