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How to Stop Dogs Barking in the home

19/04/2019 - Puppies

Barking Dog in the home. 

Does your dog bark at everything in the home or outside? 

There are various reasons our dogs bark, from fear, anxiety, comfort, alerting, guarding, protecting through to attention. This article will focus primarily on dogs that bark within the home. 

Dogs bark in the home for a number of reasons, and it is sometimes a learnt behaviour that has been reinforced over time. 

Dog barks at the door bell: 

If your dog barks when the door goes due to fear, then you will also need to deal with the fear of people in the home, this would be another modification plan that would help them to feel more comfortable with people in the home. 

If this is the only time your dog barks, and they aren’t scared of people in the home, then this is pretty easy to deal with as you can condition the door bell or door knock to mean something else. This is pretty normal for a lot of dogs, and you don’t necessarily want to discourage it, but to be able to stop the barking so it doesn’t esculate and your dog goes over their threshold. 

For this I would: 

Pair the door bell with something of high value: 

Get someone to ring the door bell, high value food appears in a certain area away from the front door. Leave it there and wait for dog to find it. No one comes in. 

Repeat this a few times a day until your dog looks for the high value food when they hear the door bell or knock. 

With a lot of dogs that bark in the home and garden etc are often near to what we call their threshold, meaning they are spending a large part of their life in stress (stress isn’t always bad) some dogs love nothing more than looking out the window and barking at everything going past, however it is stressful for them to do this. For somedogs we need to reduce their stress in all areas of their life to stop them reacting to every sound and sight. For some dogs, they often find ways to occupy themselves, and this can include barking at people, birds, other dogs etc. If we can give them other things to do, and help to tire out their brains we can really reduce their need/want to bark as much. 

Ways to reduce stress for barking dogs: 

  • Frosted Glass on windows
  • Area’s for rest that are quiet with no traffic (people walking through)
  • Playing games in the home (hide treats, get them catching kibble, following food around)
  • Working for their food (enrichment, scatter feeding, interactive games etc)
  • Training in the home (fun sessions)
  • Opportunities to chew
  • If they are road walked but scan around looking for other dogs, people etc, they are probably not enjoying those walks, reduce these walks and go to more rural area’s. They would benefit from less walks in more rural areas, than longer time in stressful areas. 

You also want to teach your dog a positive interrupter

Polite (positive) Interrupter

We like to teach a polite interrupter to our dogs, so in the event they are doing something we don’t want them too, or we want to interrupt a behaviour we are able to do so. For example if my dogs starts to bark at something, I initially acknowledge the bark, ‘Thank you’ then use the interrupter and reward them from coming back to me. 

Most people like to say No to their dogs, but the dogs don’t understand what No means, and to you it may mean lots of different things for example - don’t go there, stop digging that, put whats in your mouth down, don’t chew that, etc, where as the interrupter is clear, it means stop what you’re doing and come here. 

To do this you simply pair a sound or a word with a high value treat, the higher the value the more impact this exercise will have. Normally Liver, Salmon, and other smelly treats are of high value, rather than any normal pet shop ones. The Healthy Pet Store in Totton (https://healthypetstore.co.uk) do some amazingly high value treats for the puppies and they are able to go in there with you too. 

  • Say word or make noise 
  • Food appears
  • Repeat this for 4/5 days as many times a day as possible before using it as a tool. You want your dog to automatically turn around when they hear the noise or word. 

Once pup knows good stuff appears then you can say the word or make the noise, mark them (‘Yes’ or ‘Good’) and feed. If puppy starts to ignore the sound or word, it may be that you didn’t reinforce it, and it would be a good idea to start again.