If you have multiple noisy dogs who give concerts throughout the day, your neighbors are probably not happy campers. Although barking is a dog's way of communicating, when excessive, it can result in complaints, sleepless nights and hefty fines. To avoid this, correct the behavior one dog at a time.
Provide your dogs with daily mental and physical stimulation. Take your dogs on walks and play games, such as fetch and tug-of-war with them. This will tire them out, help them burn energy and prevent boredom so they're less likely to resort to nuisance barking. Give them chew toys and food-stuffed dog toys, and schedule short obedience training sessions for mental stimulation.
Ignore your dogs when they start barking for your attention. Pretend they're not in the room -- don't look at them, don't pet them and don't talk to them. When they stop barking, give them praise and dog treats to reinforce the good behavior. Over time they'll realize that being quiet gets your attention and being noisy doesn't.
Close the curtains if it's something outside that's triggering the barking. Maybe your dogs are barking at teasing cats or at people passing by. If they can't see them, they have no reason to bark.
Arm yourself with an empty soda can that's partially filled with coins. When your furry friends start barking, throw the can of coins on the floor near your dogs. The noise will distract them and break their concentration so they stop barking. Ensure they don't see you throwing the can -- you want them to think it's their barking that triggered the unpleasant, sudden noise. With consistency, the barking will stop.
Teach your dogs to be quiet on command, starting with the dog who starts off the bark fest. Have a friend ring the doorbell and when the instigator starts barking, walk up to him and say "enough" or "quiet." Hold a small, irresistible piece of chicken or beef right above his nose. He'll stop barking to smell the treat. Close the treat in your fist and lure your pet companion away from the door. Wait three seconds and give him the treat to reward him for being quiet. Gradually extend the duration that your dog has to wait for the treat. Over time he'll start understanding the meaning of "quiet" and will obey in anticipation of a possible treat. Repeat this training tactic with all other dogs in the house.
Use a commercial anti-bark device to stop your dogs' excessive barking if nothing else seems to work. Each time one of your dogs bark, the anti-bark device emits a high frequency sound that humans can't hear. The sound hurts your dogs' ears so they stop barking. When using this device, keep in mind that even if only one dog was barking, all dogs in the household will suffer the consequences. Alternatively, use citronella collars for a similar effect.
Items you will need
- Chew toys
- Food-stuffed dog toys
- Dog treats
- Can of coins
- Piece of chicken or beef
- Commercial anti-bark device
- Don't yell at your dogs or kick or hit them to get them to stop barking -- yelling makes them think you're joining in on the bark fest, and physical punishment only makes them fear you.
- The Humane Society of the United States: Barking: Why Dogs Sound Off
- The Humane Society of the United States: Barking: How to Get Your Dog to Quiet Down
- ASPCA: Enriching Your Dog's Life
- Cesar's Way: How to Prevent Dog Barking
- The Other End of the Leash; Patricia McConnell, Ph.D.
- L.A. County Online: Department of Animal Care & Control: Barking
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images