Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tips to End Problem Barking

We’ve all been around them. We’ve all been annoyed by them. We all hope we won’t have one ourselves. A dog who barks incessantly can be problematic in the home and in the hunting terrain. The causes can be varied, but an overactive barker can infuriate and exasperate you and anyone around you.

Reacting in anger often results in yelling at the dog. But yelling reinforces the behavior and can make the dog feel that you are joining in the action. By reacting to the barking, you are often rewarding the behavior and therefore encouraging it. Even a negative reaction is giving attention to the barking.

Here are a few tips for working through barking issues:

1. First of all, it is much easier to solve a barking problem in a puppy than a full-grown dog. If a dog has been living and working while maintaining a high level of barking all of his life, it will be a much harder habit to break. Be realistic in your expectations and realize that it could take weeks to re-train your dog in this area. During this time, confine the dog to a place where he will not bother others so much, if necessary. If you need to leave the dog in the house alone, you may want to turn on a TV or radio to help block out outside noises that will incite more barking. You may also wish to turn off the telephone ringer and doorbell if these create barking problems.

2. Second, investigate the cause of the barking. There are countless reasons a dog may bark too much. Whether it is boredom or the threat of danger or excitement over seeing a friend, it is important that you recognize the triggers that set off a barking spree. If you suspect the barking is a result of boredom, loneliness, frustration, or fear, you may be able to remove the cause of the problem. Stopping to sit with the dog quietly or providing a chew toy can often break the cycle of incessant barking. It is also possible that your dog is in need of a change in scenery. Take the dog for a long walk or play a game with him to break a barking cycle. Although you will never be able to remove every annoyance, there are certain things that you can overcome.

3. Help the dog relax. When the dog is particularly loud, pull him aside and sit next to him, scratching his favorite spot or petting his head while saying calm and soothing words. This can be particularly effective if your dog is barking too much in the vehicle or home and you are close. If the dog is outdoors and there are continual distractions or triggers for barking, you will probably have to remove him from the situation before the barking can cease.

4. Develop an easy command that you consistently use. Because dogs do not inherently know whether barking is good or bad, it is your job to train them. When the dog barks to notify you of a stranger or an unfamiliar sound, go to the dog and praise him for notifying you. After the praise, say a simple, “Stop barking.” A firm, even-toned voice will communicate your calm and help to calm the dog. At the same moment as the command, hold a special food treat in front of the dog’s nose. Most dogs will stop barking immediately at the sight (and smell) of the treat. Before delivering the treat, praise the dog for ceasing to bark thereby encouraging her to remain quiet. The next time you repeat these actions, wait a few more quiet seconds before delivering the treat. If there is any barking after you deliver the command, scold the dog immediately.

5. Use a spray bottle filled with water. If the dog cannot relax and the command is not working alone, use the command in conjunction with the spray bottle. A squirt to the face followed by a quick and firm, “Stop barking” will associate the bad behavior (barking) with an unpleasant consequence (water).

Additional Resources:

Gun Dog Training Articles
Training A Dog Not To Bark

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