The best way to stop dog barking is a hot topic on may dog forums and some owners will go as far as having debarking surgery on their dogs to stop the problem completely. The simple fact is that all dogs bark, whether that comes out as a deep woof or a high pitched yap. Its natural and its useful and yet when they do it a bit too often it causes so many problems – be it bad feelings between neighbours, or giving you a headache at home.
Of course, most of us are quite happy to have a dog that barks, it makes us feel safe at night and lets us know when someone is approaching the house. Sadly some dogs don’t know when to stop. They’re a bit like a faulty car alarm, just about anything can set them off and it can take a long time to get them to stop.
So like any incessant noise that you have no control over, it causes a lot of frustration and stress. You have no control over the triggers for barking, because even the slightest noise, like someone passing by on the other side of the street can set some dogs of. And you don’t seem to have any control over when they stop either.
I’ve heard so many people say that shouting at the dog to stop doesn’t help either, infact it can increase the intensity of the barking even further and make it last longer.
Why Dogs Bark
In nature barking works. It has three primary functions; The first is to let the rest of the pack know where you are, the second is a system for alerting the rest of the pack to potential danger and the third is an agressive warning to keep away.
Nuisance dog barking arises when they try and apply a system that works perfectly in nature, to a human world they don’t understand. Thats when the postman becomes a treat to many dogs, or the telephone, or vacuum cleaner. The more sensitive the dog, the more anxious they might get and they more threats they might feel the need to bark at. And they’ll keep barking until they are sure that the threat has gone away.
Dog Barking when Left Alone
Dogs will bark from time to time when left alone – again that is only natural as they will respond to whatever noises they can hear outside the home.
However, if a dog barks incessantly, particularly just after you leave the house, its more likely to be triggered by dog anxiety.
This is the kind of barking that has your neighbours up in arms and threatening you with dog barking laws, complaint letters and council action. Some dogs will literally bark on and off for hours at a time. Be honest, if you find it hard to bear 5 minutes of constant dog barking at home, imagine how your neighbours feel.
On the flip side, many dog owners are made to feel like they are neglecting their dogs when this happens – or leaving dogs for too long. That’s not the case. Unfortunately, more attention and less time away will not make the slightest bit of difference to changing the feelings of separation anxiety in dogs.
Two Simple Words That Help You Stop Dog Barking
Two little words can be all it needs to get your dog to stop excessive barking. We already know that ‘Shut Up’ doesn’t work, but what about the words ‘Thank You’ or ‘Good Boy’ or ‘Good Girl’?
It’s counter intuitive, but surprisingly thanking your dog can work! Here’s why.
In a dog pack, one of their roles would be to alert the pack leader to any potential danger. At that point they would stop barking and the pack leader would then make the decision as to whether any action was needed or not.
If you feel silly thanking your dog then any words that are said positively, ‘well done’ for instance, will do. The trouble with shouting is that you raise your anxiety levels, so the dog will sense that something is really wrong, and you sound like you’re joining in, which is why your dog will bark even more frantically when you do raise your voice.
The aim is to set up a system that your dog understands. They will always be the one to alert you to something first as their hearing is so much better, and by staying calm yourself and thanking them, you let them know there is nothing to worry about. At this stage the barking should stop.
Dog Anxiety Issues
Unfortunately, its not a system that you can use when your dog is at home alone. Instead you need to deal with the source of your dogs anxiety, which is most likely to be a leadership issue.
If your dog has placed themselves as head of the pack, they’ve also made themselves responsible for decision making and keeping the pack safe. They can’t do that if you lock them in at home and go out.
The frantic barking is trying to let you know where to come home to. As long as they have anxiety, they are going to bark in this way. It’s their nature.
The only way you can change their mind and stop your dog barking is to show your dog that you are leader of the pack, not them. That way they don’t need to worry. If you’re looking for a training programme that will help you establish yourself as leader of the pack and stop your dog barking, check out our free video training and Dog Anxiety eBook as we’ve created a step-by-step process to do exactly that.