It is very common for dogs to bark. It is their way of communicating with us, together with whining and howling. Dogs bark for a variety of reasons, and it can be perplexing for most owners. They can bark to warn us of danger, to threaten unwanted intrusions into your house, or simply because they are curious. My dog actually barks at birds when they intrude into my place! Having said that, some breeds are more inclined to bark than others, so it is important to know the inclination of your dog. It is sometimes annoying that the dog will bark when the trigger is present, and owners do not have complete control over that. Henceforth, we will be providing the Top 10 ways to prevent dog from barking.
Before that, let us investigate the top few reasons that induce unwarranted barking.
Why Do Dogs Bark?
As mentioned earlier, dogs bark for a myriad of reasons. If you live in the country, the dogs might bark to warn us of intruders into our yard. The intruders can be animals from the nearby forested area, or unwanted guests who appear randomly. Insecurity can be the main reasons why puppies bark after they leave the pack. Dogs bark when they are excited too. When dogs are brought to communal areas such as the common dog pen, you will inevitably hear the dogs barking loudly in excitement! In those occasion, those barks might be received positively from owners as they know it is non malicious. If you watched Twilight (yes the movie), there is a scene whereby the pack of wolfs started to bark at each other. Though it is a movie, there are truths to it. Dogs too bark at one another to exert their authority over others, like they are in command.
Sometimes, barking is absolutely necessary, especially when it is used to herd your farm animals in, or to warn us of intruders. However, we as owners would want to stop their barking when we deem it unwarranted. We do not want the dog to bark when the situation doesn’t call for it. More often than not, the causes of the dog’s unwarranted barking can be unconsciously reinforced by the owner. Yes, some owners will claim that the dog’s barking is inherent in the breed itself, but that itself is an excuse. It is up to the owner’s prerogative to not give the dog mixed signals when they bark unnecessarily, and prevent dog from barking.
Before we can advise on ways to prevent dog from barking, we have to look at the common causes.
- Genetics: Some breeds like chihuahuas and terriers are known to be excessive barkers.
- Emotional and physical needs: This is a common reason why dogs bark. They can bark out of fear or when the are excited. They too will bark when they are in need of something, like food, water, or simply just wanting your attention.
- Social factors: There are many environmental triggers that can cause your dog to bark for no reason, like other dogs barking, intrusion into territory, or even if they are confined in their crates for too long a time.
Now that we know the different factors that encourages the dog to bark, let us provide you with the top 10 Ways To Prevent Dog From Barking.
Top 10 Ways To Prevent Dog From Barking
Closing your dog’s mouth: Closing the dog’s mouth is one of the more simpler ways to prevent dog from barking. Usually, we will employ head halter to help us correct the dog’s behavior. You would have to slowly introduce the head halter to your dog. Once the dog starts to bark without any relevant trigger, lift the leash and the dog’s mouth will close. When you are ready to move, change direction. This actually helps to shift your dog’s attention elsewhere, and it could possibly help to reinforce positive behavior in your dog! An example of a head halter can be found here.
Training Your Dog To Bark: Yes, you read it correctly. You should train your dog to bark, but only at the appropriate moment. In for example, if someone were to knock on your door, let the dog bark. After giving a series of commands, like “quiet”, and if the dog eventually quieten down, reward her with a treat. Do not give her the treat to shut her mouth. Rather, reward her a few seconds after the barking as stopped. You wouldn’t want to accidentally reinforce the behavior of barking. If the dog doesn’t stop barking, you can use a leash to assist you. This method is a very effective way to prevent dog from barking
Interrupting The Bark: This involves you creating a distraction when your dog starts to bark at a random event. This can be used when the dog is barking intensely that your commands cannot work anymore. There are various methods that you can use to create that distraction, and one of them is to introduce a sudden loud noise that your dog isn’t accustomed to hearing. That includes shaking a can of coins, or even hitting on a trashcan. Otherwise, you can use mobile apps that helps to emit sounds of high frequency is audible to dogs and not humans. This method of preventing dog from barking is effective, but it takes patience in the owner to start this form of training for the dog.
Crate Training Your Dog: Do note that this doesn’t means that you should put your dog in the crate whenever it barks. Crates are meant to be a safe haven for your dog when the owner isn’t around. If you use the crate to as a form of punishment, then the crate would have lost its purpose. We have written an article about this. Some dogs, when placed in their crates, they might start to bark due to outside stimulus. A good way to stop the barking is to cover the crate with a cloth, as it helps to prevent a direct line of sight to various stimulus, and this will stop the barking altogether.
Bark collars: This is by far the most effective way to prevent dog from barking excessively. It works by emitting a small static charge through the dog collar to the dog, hence interrupting the dog from barking. The static charge is only strong enough to irritate the dog. However, before using Bark Collars do consult your vet if it is suitable for your dog. This is the best method to prevent dog from barking. We have done reviews on the best bark collar for chihuahua, and you can read it here.
Controlling Your Dog’s Excitement: Whenever your dog barks, do not carry it as it is a positive reinforcement to your dog’s barking. If you have been doing this, then it is time to stop. Also, many dogs will bark incessantly when the owner is back home, and the common response is to pat the dog and stroke the belly. This is also a form of positive reinforcement. As humans, we will take those as a sign that the dog misses us, and she is barking happily. While this is not untrue. our actions thereafter could reinforce the idea that barking is alright.
It is very normal for dogs to be excited at environmental stimulus, especially if it involves the owner returning home. If your dog barks at this point, choose to ignore it. Prevent eye contact, and be indifferent towards her barking. Only give her the attention after the barking has stopped. Remember that our dog’s reaction is a reflection of our own when we see them. When you are in control of yourself, you can control/dictate your dog’s behavior too.
Discipline: Ultimately, dogs cannot speak our language, and we can only guess the meaning behind their barks. When your dog barks without a reason, take some time to discipline them. You could give them a stern verbal warning, starting at the dog or giving it some minute physical stimulus. Do not give in to the dog’s bark, and be consistent with this approach. In time to come, your dog will not bark as frequently as before. Disciplining your dog is one of the best was to prevent dog from barking.
Be Calm: Stay calm, and press on. This means that no matter how noisy your dog is, do not be wavered and maintain your level of calmness. Violence begets violence; this adage works for barking too. If your dog sees that you are not calm, it will mirror off to them, and they might be encouraged to bark. This is actually true for my case. Whenever the delivery man comes, she will look at me to get signs. If I rush to the door, the dog will bark very loudly. If I simply walk slowly to the door, the dog will try to manage a small bark! So one of the best ways to prevent dog from barking is to be calm yourself.
Exercise: Exercise your dog frequently. This formula is pretty simple: When your dog is physically tired, they might not have the energy to bark at random events! This is another tried and tested method. Of course, do not exercise your dog to the point of exhaustion.
Indoor Bark Control: Some owners may not like the idea of restricting your dog and zapping them with a short static charge whenever they bark. As a result, some of them use an innovative product called the Indoor Bark Control. Whenever the dog barks, the system detects it, and subsequently produces a sound that is only audible to dogs. This high pitch sound is barely audible to humans, but it irritates the dog whenever they bark. Hence, the dogs will learn to associate barks with the sound, and they will eventually bark lesser.
If the above methods still doesn’t prevent dog from barking, then you might need to seek professional help. There are several professionals out there that are trained to handle such dogs, and it might be wise to seek their advice.