Dogs bark. It’s one of the ways in which they communicate to us. But, when your dog’s barking is becoming incessant, it can lead to problems.
Your dog’s barking can escalate to the point that it’s ruining your relationship with your neighbours, your family, and even stopping you from having friends over.
So, how do you stop a dog from barking? And how much barking for a dog is considered ‘normal’?
We dive into three things you can do today to stop your dog barking. If you want more, check out our Barking Course – just £27!!
1. Stop your dog barking by creating a ‘Dimmer Switch’
You might notice that your dog goes from 0 to 100 miles an hour in an instant. There’s a bark at the door and they were sleeping soundly. We can bet they don’t calmly plod over to see what’s going on before heading back to snuggle back down on their bed. Quite the opposite, right?!
We’re going to hazard a guess your dog jumps up, races to the door, barks crazily (maybe even spins) and then probably takes a good while to calm down again.
All that means is that your dog doesn’t have a middle ground when it comes to what we call their ‘arousal levels’. They are either in a state of calm (for some dogs it might just be sleep!) or they are on high alert. They don’t seem to have that ‘in the middle’ thinking ground. Or if they do, you don’t see it very often.
They are either off. Or on. A bit like a light switch. Which is exactly why we call it creating a dimmer switch. We want your dog to find those mid-levels where the arousal might ramp up a bit, but it comes back down again slowly. Meaning they don’t reaching boiling point – or in this case, the barking point!
Creating a dimmer switch is just one way of reducing your dogs barking and as it’s such a big topic we created a whole online course on it! Once you’ve got that dimmer switch sorted the magic REALLY starts to happen!
2. Stop your Dog Barking by giving them a calm place to be
Teaching your dog to have a place they can go is useful for so many things – barking being just one. Why? When we teach a dog to hang out on a bed we are promoting calmness and bringing those arousal levels down, the ones we talked about above, o they aren’t running around, looking for things to bark at, or flying off their bed at 100 miles an hour!
Calmness breeds calmness. What a dog rehearses, they will become. We all become masters at the things we do day in and day out. If your dog has the opportunity to bark incessantly every day they are going to become pretty good at it!
Here is how you start to build up some value in your dogs bed so that they want to stay on it. We call them boundaries because they are more than just a bed. They can be a tree stump on a walk, or a chair. In fact, they can be anywhere you want your dog wants to hang out until you release them. At home – let’s start with a bed.
- Mark and reward any movement towards or near your dog’s boundary.
- Now start to reward your dog for any foot or feet on the boundary. They might do this quite quickly or they might take a while. Always feed the food on the BOUNDARY, not to the dogs mouth. Feeding to the boundary helps them to see where the value is. You will need to get your dog into the idea that you are then one that releases them off the boundary – so once they are on it and you’ve rewarded them, release them off the boundary by throwing food away and watch them turn and run back and hop back on for more!
- Keep rewarding food heavily onto the boundary especially when your dog gets all 4 paws on there!
- Continue to charge up that release by throwing food away.
- When they are jumping up onto the boundary consistently you can start to add a cue. We use ‘hop it up’.
3. Stop your Dog Barking by rewarding them for not reacting
This is probably one of the games that we would say is a staple of our dog training here at Absolute Dogs. Distract, Mark and Treat. Especially when it comes to combatting dog barking.
Now there are MANY levels to this game but the very basics are: You/your dog sees a distraction. You mark the distraction with a very calm ‘niiiiiiiice’. You then calmly deliver the reward.
The trick to start playing this is to do it with all distractions. Even the ones that you think your dog doesn’t notice. Like a leaf falling, the noise of a cup going down on the side.
These are small steps to start to build up that ‘no-reaction response’ to things going on.
Make sure you REALLY notice those times your dog doesn’t react or bark. Say you see someone walk past, but you dog doesn’t bark? REWARD THEM! This may mean having a pot of food around so you can be quick to reward that no reaction behaviour. Ditching the bowl is such an important part of levelling this up.
These are only 3 ways to help your dog to stop barking. We’ve got LOTS more in our Stop Barking Mini Course. A super affordable online course that you can buy and keep forever at just £27! Work through the online videos at your own pace for more games and skills.
We’ve also got our Bark No More Ebook with more games you can play – check it out now!