Although barking is a natural behavior for dogs, incessant barking due to outside stimuli can present a problem, from creating a disruptive home to hostile situations outside of the home. Through the use of consistent and humane methods of removing the cause of barking and gentle yet firm training, it’s possible to create an ideal environment where a dog no longer barks because of alarmed or territorial behavior.
Determine the Cause
Determine if the dog is barking because he is being territorial and alarmed. How you address the barking problem depends on the cause. A territorial dog will bark because of a perceived threat and the need to defend territory, such as when unfamiliar people or animals approach. The barking tends to occur in a familiar place, such as the dog’s home. A territorial dog will have a threatening posture with ears forward and tail held high.
An alarmed dog will bark because of sights and sounds in unfamiliar territory. Triggers can be unfamiliar people and animals while the dog is out on a walk.
Remove the Motivation to Bark
Remove the dog’s motivation to bark to help humanely curb the barking. In the case of a territorial dog, this means covering windows or keeping him away from them if he barks when pedestrians and other animals walk by. If the dog has access to the outdoors, fencing that keeps him from seeing out is a way to resolve the problem. Also, curb the barking problem by keeping the dog from greeting visitors at the door. A territorial dog should have a designated quiet area where he can stay until he is allowed to come greet a visitor.
Distract to Reduce Barking
Distract the dog who barks due to alarmed behavior. It’s difficult to remove the stimuli for a dog who barks when out on a walk. Offer a favorite treat in situations where barking would normally occur. If the dog barks when a stranger approaches too closely, then offer the treat right before the barking would occur. Then praise the dog for achieving the desired behavior. Another option is to teach the dog to sit before the barking behavior occurs. Test out whether the sitting position or one where the dog keeps moving is more effective at curbing the barking.
Train the dog to discontinue barking if the above methods don’t work. Choose a command, such as “quiet,” after the dog has barked a few times. Use a lower volume whenever implementing the command. Immediately after issuing the command, hold a treat in front of the dog. Allow the dog to take the treat as soon as he stops barking. Walk away from the source of the stimuli, command the dog to sit and reward with a treat. Continue to reward the dog for remaining quiet for a few minutes. Repeat the method with the dog until the territorial barking subsides. Remain consistent each time.
C.E. Chan has been a writer since 2003, contributing to magazines, online publications and education organizations. Her work has appeared in "Popular Dogs," "Dog World" and "The Architect's Newspaper," among other outlets. With a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Southern California, Chan worked in the architectural field for several years before becoming a writer.