Stopping problem barking can be a challenge but if you take the right approach it can be done and your relationship with your dog will be strengthened in the process.
Many people seem to believe that the only good dog is a quiet dog.
They only really want their dog to bark if there is an intruder climbing in the window or the house is on fire.
The truth is that barking is one of a dog's primary ways of communicating.
A healthy, happy dog will sometimes bark.
It is up to us to figure out what they are saying and to set limits on their "communication".
So what might they be saying? There are a lot of possible reasons for barking.
Some breeds were bred to bark.
Guard dogs like German Shepherds and Rottweilers, for instance.
Hunting dogs like Beagles and Bloodhounds were bred to "bay" when they are following a sent.
Other breeds like Chihuahuas seem to bark and put on a big show to compensate for their small size.
Aside from the breed specific idiosyncrasies, there are other reasons that any dog might bark.
Sometimes they are anxious because they sense something is wrong or they see someone or something near their "territory".
If your dog is barking for any of these reasons, it's not really realistic for you to try to stop them altogether: after all, he's a dog, and it's the nature of dogs to bark at certain times and in certain situations.
It may also be that they are bored, lonely, hungry or craving attention.
But, of course, sometimes barking is unwarranted or excessive.
Some dogs use their voices as a way of manipulating their owners! For example, suppose you are lying on the couch reading the paper.
Your dog wakes up from her nap and decides its play time.
She picks up her toy, comes over, and drops it in your face.
You ignore her and try to keep reading.
After a few seconds she nudges your hand with her wet nose and barks once, loudly.
You continue reading so she barks again, louder and, when you still don't respond she barks repeatedly and won't stop.
Finally you give up trying to relax, put down your newspaper and take her outside to play fetch.
It is important that you spend quality time playing with your dog and giving her attention, but it should be on your terms.
Dog ownership involves mutual respect between you and the dog, but it is not about equality.
It is about you being the boss and the dog being the pet.
Dogs are the happiest and the best behaved when they know that you are in charge.
For a dog to be calm and well adjusted they need to respect your leadership.
In the above scenario the dog was not respecting you.
She wasn't asking you to play; she was harassing you into doing what she wanted.
And your giving into her just reinforces that behavior! You taught her that if she barks long enough she'll get what she wants.
So, how do you stop this manipulation? Simply ignore her.
Easier said than done, right? I don't simply mean passively ignoring them, where you just pay no attention and go on with what you are doing.
You must communicate to her with your demeanor and body language that her behavior is undesirable.
When she starts yapping, literally turn your back on her.
Get up, turn away from her and avert your eyes.
Don't look at her or even speak to her.
Initially this will confuse her because this tactic always worked so well in the past.
She'll probably start barking louder! The important thing here is consistency.
Don't give in after 15 minutes and give her what she wants.
That will just teach her that she needs to be really persistent.
, it takes 15 minutes of continual barking to get my way.
That's alright, I'm a dog, I've got nothing better to do".
If you stand your ground she will in time figure out that barking is not the way to get you to do what she wants.
But what about other situations where it isn't a matter of the dog bullying you to get their way? If you want to communicate to them that you want them to stop and be quiet, the most effective thing you can do is to use your hands.
No, I'm not saying to hit your dog! But I'm suggesting a perfectly humane and pain-free method of telling them that what you require right now is peace and quiet.
When he's barking, give him a couple of seconds to get it out of his system (it's kinder, and a lot more effective, to give him a brief opportunity to express himself before asking him to be quiet).
If, after a few seconds he doesn't calm down on his own, reach over and gently but firmly clasp his muzzle in your hand.
He will try to pull away or shake you off, so you can grab his collar with your other hand to give you more control.
This method works for two reasons.
First, it effectively stops the barking and secondly, it establishes your authority.
You are showing him through direct physical action that you're a kind, but firm leader who won't put up with his unacceptable behavior.
Continue to hold onto his muzzle and collar until he has stopped trying to break free: only when he calms down and stops wriggling does it mean that he has accepted your authority.
When he's still, hold on for one or two more seconds, then let go and praise him There are also some important things you can to do to reduce your dog's need to bark in the first place.
The number-one reason for unnecessary barking (barking that is repetitive and is directed at nothing) is nervous, energy.
That is usually caused by not getting enough exercise.
Most dogs function best with about one and a half hours of exercise every day, which, admittedly, can be a major time commitment for you.
It varies of course from dog to dog, depending on, among other things, breed, age, and health.
You might think that your dog is getting as plenty of exercise, or at least as much as you can afford to give them.
But if his barking is coupled with an agitated demeanor (fidgeting, acting aggressively, restlessness, destructive behavior) then he almost certainly requires more.
The solution to this problem is simple if not always convenient: you have to exercise your dog more.
Try getting up a half-hour earlier in the morning.
It will make a big difference.
If this just isn't possible, consider hiring someone to walk him in the mornings and/or evenings.
If that also is impossible, then you may have to resign yourself to having a frustrated, agitated and noisy dog.
The second most common cause of excessive barking is loneliness.
Dogs are social animals and need lots of attention, interaction, and communication if they are to be calm and happy.
If your dog is spending a lot of time barking at what appears to be nothing, he is probably bored and lonely and the best remedy is a healthy dose of affection and attention.