Dogs bark. It's a fact of nature, it's how they communicate. Living with a barker, particularly in an apartment or in close quarters in a small neighborhood, is more than just frustrating for you, it will drive your neighbors crazy. There are a few breeds, though, that bark very little.
Quieter Big Breeds
If you've always wanted a larger breed dog but have held off getting one because of the louder "woof" you imagine he'll emit, there are some bigger breeds that are known for being conservative with their conversation. Chow chows, akitas, most retrievers, mastiffs and shiba inus are all larger breeds that bark very little. And don't forget the Basenji. More of a mid-sized dog, the Basenjis' claim to fame is that they don't bark at all, although they do make growling, whining sounds that kind of sound like yodeling.
When you think about small dogs, they're probably more likely to end up on your list of dogs that bark a lot. But there actually are a handful of small breeds that are dogs of few words. The list of less-talky small breed dogs include the bulldogs, Boston terriers, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, basset hounds and Japanese chins.
Causes of Problem Barking
Whenever dogs bark, there's a reason ... usually. Dogs of any breed can develop problem barking behaviors, though, that may require training or behavior modification. Problem barking in dogs may stem from boredom, becoming overexcited such as when playing, demanding attention or food, anxiety or frustration.
Teaching Your Dog Not to Bark
Many obedience classes include a section on silencing your dog if he starts barking at an inappropriate time. In her book on dog and puppy training Nancy Kerns reveals a handy training tool she calls "positive interrupt." The idea is to train your dog during a time he isn't barking to recognize a phrase and associate it with an extra-special treat. Say something like "over here" or "no barking" in a happy, positive tone and then immediately give him a treat you know he loves. Kerns recommends repeating this until you see his ears perk and his eyes light up when you say the magic phrase. Continue training sessions periodically during times when your dog isn't barking to reinforce in your dog's mind the power of the phrase to produce a highly coveted treat. The more you reinforce it, the more effective it will be to stop your dog from barking when necessary.
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