Can You Train Your Dog Not To Bark?

So you’ve adopted a dog. He loves you, he keeps you company, he runs with you on evenings. The only problem is that he seemingly loves you too much. He barks when you put him to bed or you aren’t home. Is there a way to fix this problem or will you forever be plagued by angry notes from your neighbors?

Dogs usually bark for one of two reasons: they are scared or (more likely) they want attention. Habitual barking will always be a desire to get attention as there should be no reason that your dog is perpetually scared.

Oftentimes, without knowing it, we are training our dogs to bark. We shower them with affection and attention, spoiling them right to the second we have to go to bed or leave for work and then they are left with nothing to do. They get bored and want us to entertain them, so they bark. And then, as soon as they start barking, what is our automatic response? “Quiet!” or “Shut up, I’m trying to sleep!” We yell at them, but all this really does is says “If you bark, I will eventually have to give you verbal attention.” This trains them that barking will get them what they want, which just feeds the bad habit.

In order to get them out of the habit of barking, we have to stop reinforcing this behavior and treat the actual problem. The problem is that they are spoiled and bored. A good pet owner can fix both of those things.

First of all, your dog doesn’t need your attention all of the time. Practice a more distanced relationship with your pet so that he isn’t totally reliant on you for entertainment. Sit on a different side of the room from him from time to time and make a habit of devoting a specific chunk of time for snuggling on the couch or petting your pup, do not continue to have physical affection permeate your relationship when you are home. Just because you and your animal are in the same house or room does not mean you should be being affectionate all of the time. Save praise for when your dog does something good or right, not because he is just there.

Another tip is to keep him entertained. Purchase some chew toys or a Kong ball so that he has something to do that is not related with you and so that he will not rely on you for entertainment. Chews and toys should keep him busy while you aren’t home and stop him from finding the need to bark.

If things get really bad, desperate measures can and should be taken.  Bark collars can be purchased at any local pet store and electrically stimulate a dog when they bark. You can even purchase ones that increase in intensity if your dog continues to bark or if they bark louder. Contrary to popular belief, electronic bark collars do not harm or traumatized your dog. Mostly, they just frighten your dog and get your dog to associate that confusion and shock with barking, encouraging him to no longer do so.

Be a good pet owner and take the time to train your dog that barking isn’t accepted.  Your sleep schedule and your neighbors will thank you.


Mark Mansfield

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