If Fido is obsessed with barking, immediately nip his behavior in the bud. Avoid waiting to correct his behavior, because the longer you wait, the harder it will be to break his habit. Choose a natural, humane method to stop excessive barking and restore the peace in the neighborhood.
Use a Spray Bottle
A spray bottle filled with water can double as a natural repellent to stop your dog's barking. During a barking rant, say "quiet" and spray your dog with water. The unexpected mist of water breaks your dog's concentration and stops his barking. When he's quiet, reward him lavishly. For an extra effective repellent, mix a little citronella oil in the water. Your dog dislikes the odor and will stop barking. Alternatively, use a citronella collar that activates the moment your dog starts barking.
Yelling at your dog to stop barking is ineffective -- your pet companion will think you're joining in on the fun. Instead, make other noises to interrupt his concert -- shake a can filled with pennies, set off an air horn or blow a whistle. The loud noise should occur each time your dog starts his excessive barking. Over time, he'll associate the two and will prefer to stay quiet to avoid the unpleasant noise.
A natural way to stop excessive barking is to use commands, such as "quiet" or "hush." Ring the doorbell or knock on the wall so your dog starts barking. Hold a dog treat above his nose while he's making noise and say "quiet." To sniff the treat, your pet companion has to stop barking. When he's quiet, wait three seconds and give him the treat. Repeat this tactic several times and gradually extend the time that your dog has to quietly wait for the treat. Eventually, give him treats sporadically, and over time, he'll be quiet on command in anticipation of the possible treat.
Ignore Your Dog
Believe it or not, simply doing nothing can stop your dog's barking. If your dog barks to get your attention, ignore him -- don't look at him, don't talk to him and just go about your business as if he's not in the room. If you pay attention to your pet companion, he thinks his barking is effective and will use it each time he wants attention. When your dog calms down and stops barking, give him a treat to reinforce the good behavior. Eventually he'll realize that being quiet gets your attention and that his barking isn't effective.
- The Humane Society of the United States: Barking: How to Get Your Dog to Quiet Down
- Maryland SPCA: Aversives For Dogs
- Cornell University: Cornell Chronicle: Study: 'Nuisance-Barking' Dogs Respond Best to Citronella Spray Collars
- Dog Lover's Daily Companion; Wendy Nan Rees and Kristen Hampshire
- Dog Lovers Companion; Paul McGreevy
- George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images