Barking is a vocal way for Fido to communicate. While you may feel your dog's incessant barking is beyond irritating, it's also useful. Fido uses his “voice” to alert his human family of intruders and to convey his wants and needs. When barking becomes excessive, a cure is necessary.
Ignore the Barking
Fido often barks to get a reaction, whether it's from you, the mailman or Fluffy the cat. While ignoring the barking may not work initially, Fido will soon realize he is not being rewarded with attention when he barks. To be successful with this method, you must be consistent. As Fido is barking, avoid any form of communication, eye contact or gestures toward him. Simply turn your back and ignore his yapping. When Fido stops barking, reward him with praise and a treat.
If your pooch is like most dogs, his barking is triggered by environmental stimuli. Fido may bark when someone knocks at the door or when the neighbor kids play in the front yard. By removing these “triggers,” you remove Fido's motivation to bark. For example, close the curtains if your dog has a habit of barking at passersby. In some cases, triggers cannot be removed and, instead, Fido needs to be desensitized to the stimulus. When your pooch becomes anxious, get his attention by feeding him treats. Continue to offer treats as the stimuli gets closer, such as when someone walks by the window. When the stimuli is out of sight, discontinue giving Fido treats.
One of the most common complaints by dog owners is excessive barking when someone knocks at the door. Many owners prefer their dog to alert them when someone is at the door, but the continuous barking that follows is not appreciated. Teach Fido to go to a designated spot and lie down once the door has opened. Say “go to your spot” and throw a dog treat in his area to remind him of where he needs to go. Repeat this method over and over until he understands his command. Get help from friends and family and conduct trial runs to get Fido prepared for real visits.
Dogs are smarter than they let on and have the ability to learn commands, such as “quiet!” When Fido begins to bark, say “quiet!” in a calm, firm voice. Never shout or scream at your pooch, as this may only encourage Fido to bark more. When situations arise where Fido feels the need to bark, such as “intruders” at the door, give him his “quiet!” command. As soon as you say “quiet,” put the treat in front of his nose. When he stops to sniff the treat, the barking will stop and you can feed him his treat. Be consistent and repeat this method until your pooch has successful learned his command.
Based in northern New York, Brandy Burgess has been writing on pets, technical documentation and health resources since 2007. She also writes on personal development for YourFreelanceWritingCareer.com. Burgess' work also has appeared on various online publications, including eHow.com. Burgess holds a Bachelor of Arts in computer information systems from DeVry University and her certified nurses aid certification.