If you want to know how to stop a dog barking, I must first warn you that it is not likely that you will totally stop your dog from barking, because this is their natural way of alerting you that there is a danger. Many people don’t want to stop their dog from barking totally, as they are a deterrent to would be burglars. What it is useful to be able to do though, is stop a dog barking once they have alerted you. Rather than that they continue to bark excessively and drive everyone potty! There are a few reasons a dog may bark: Danger, Attention & Separation Anxiety.
One of the foundations for the original relationship between dogs and humans was their better hearing and sense of smell. They would know an enemy was coming long before the human would. Their bark would alert the humans, who would then take over responsibility and get ready to defend themselves. In today’s day and age we rarely feel in danger, so don’t step up when our dogs alert us that there’s someone coming. Also because their idea of someone coming is usually just someone passing, we aren’t concerned. By stepping up to your dog’s perceived danger you are showing them that they have done their bit, so they will then feel that they can stop because you’ve decided that everything is okay. The most simple way of doing this is to acknowledge your dog in a positive voice, saying “Thank you” or “Good dog”, and if necessary, have a look out of the window to see what they are concerned about. If you are out on a walk at the time, turn and walk away from the perceived danger.
If your dog is barking to demand your attention, this is like a child shouting at you. Many parents would find this behaviour unacceptable and there would be a consequence of action for the child (e.g. naughty step, no dessert). If we fail to give a consequence of action to our dogs then they won’t see us as someone to be respected and won’t stop barking in this situation. If your dog barks at you calmly remove it from the room and give it a time out until it has stopped barking and calmed down. If your dog is barking at you aggressively this is not an appropriate action though – walk out of the room instead and shut the door. Your best bet is to get a recommended dog listener in to help you if this is happening!
If your concern is stopping your dog from barking when you are out, the main thing to work on is the reason why they are doing it. They are barking to call out to you and hope that you will return back to them, so they can look after you. This problem needs addressing from every angle. Read my blog on separation anxiety to understand the situation more. It’s important to leave the house calmly. Practice leaving for a few seconds and returning calmly before your dog has barked. Repeat this gradually increasing the amount of time you are gone for.
I am only able to touch on these matters briefly in a blog, for more detail read one of Jan Fennell’s books, available in my shop, or book a one to consultation and get some help in the comfort of your home! If your problem is aggressive barking, please seek help. This can be easily resolved when done correctly. For any other dog behaviour problems that are concerning you, please get in touch.