How To Train A Dog Not To Bark
Well, the first thing to understand is that barking is a natural and age old behavior for our dogs. Birds chirp, lions roar, and dogs bark. So really, if you have a dog, they are going to bark some time or another, it is just in their nature. It’s like asking a human not to talk, or a fish not to swim, it is just ingrained into them, part of what makes a dog a dog. However, you can certainly keep it under control, and teach your dog to stop barking when you tell them to, and I am quite sure the neighbors will appreciate it! So now, how can we train a dog not to bark?
First off, figure out why your dog is barking. Many dogs will bark if they are left in isolation or alone for long periods of time. What they are saying is “I NEED TO LET SOME ENERGY OUT!”, there really is no way to stop a dog from barking for this reason, except to take them out for some good play time! If a dog is barking from boredom and lack of exercise, you need to find an appropriate outlet for their energy, this is especially common in the more energetic breeds; like Border Collies. Dogs who are left alone all day will often times take up barking as a hobby, simply because there is nothing better to do, and it gets them in a lot less trouble than ripping up your couch. It is important to remember that although we do not, dogs love to bark, even just for fun!
If you are responding to your dog’s barks in a way they view positive, you may actually be unknowingly training them to bark. If they are barking to be let out, for example, and you let them out; then they bark again and you let them back in, they are learning that it works pretty well for them to bark for your attention. Many dogs fall into this category, and many owners do not realize it, it is very easy to miss this, as it will seem natural to you as well. In this case, it is very important to take active control of the behavior and desensitize them to whatever the undesired barking is being caused by. It is also very important to develop a command (something like “Stop Barking”) that you can use to communicate your desire so that you do not confuse your dog and give them double messages. Make sure that you set up a consequence for your dog. Usually, the command can work, but if it does not you can almost always raise your voice to earth shattering levels and yell it at them (don’t confuse this with anger, though, never be angry when training your dog). This will surprise most dogs enough that they will immediately stop barking, at which point you can reward them for following your command! Training a dog on how to not bark, like any other skill, is all about patience and consistency. Always remember that all your dog really wants to do is please you!
Read our series on Ending Problem Barking for more info!