Has your dog’s barking become a behavioral problem that needs to be fixed, but you're not sure how? This article will help you learn to identify why the barking may have become an issue, and target specific solutions for your dog’s barking problem that make the most sense for them. Want to get your dog to stop barking? Read on!
Diagnose the Cause of Dog Barking
Key to training your dog to stop barking is to properly identify why they are barking to begin with. Once you have correctly figured out what is causing the behavior, the training options become more clear.
Although this guide does address some of the more common kinds of problem barking in dogs and how to fix them, it is not a comprehensive list. If you are unsure what might be at the root cause of your dog’s annoying barking behavior, consider hiring a professional dog trainer who uses positive reinforcement based training methods to help you identify and treat barking issues in canines.
#1: Lack of Exercise
Problem: The most common reason that dogs become problem barkers is simply the fact that they are not getting enough exercise to burn off the stress hormones that build up when they don’t have their needs for movement met.
Young dogs (ages 0-3 years) and certain breeds (such as herding and working breeds) have much higher exercise needs than most people and other pets. When these exercise needs are not met, problem behaviors such as barking, excessive chewing, and neurotic behaviors can result.
Solutions: Ultimately your pet relies on you to make sure their needs for exercise are being met. For many of our canine companions, a few daily walks around the block just won’t cut it. Instead find ways to add rigorous off-leash play and running to their daily routine.
- Training games such as fetch and tug to give your dog a daily way to get their ya-yas out
- Consider athletic competitive dog sports such as flyball, agility, dock diving, or lure coursing
- Visit a dog park or other area where dogs are encouraged to play off leash where they can run and play to burn off excess energy
- Train your dog to use the treadmill
- Pick up a hobby such as hiking or jogging to turn your dog’s exercise needs into an excuse to work on your own fitness program
#2: Lack of Mental Stimulation - Stop Boredom Barking
Problem: Dogs are intelligent, social beings who cannot thrive when their needs to use their noodle are not met. Boredom, just like lack of exercise, can result in problem behaviors. If you want to stop your dog from barking all the time, be sure that you are doing your part to be sure your pup is getting a chance to be challenged on the mental level each and every day.
Solutions: The main way most owners address their dog’s boredom is through training. If you don’t have a lot of knowledge about positive reinforcement training, then maybe it is time to pick up some skills.
Start with simple “tricks” such as sit, stay, and down. These behaviors become a foundation for also rewarding your dog for quiet and calm behaviors, another big bonus for owners of problem barkers.
Helping a dog to stop barking when the cause is a lack of mental stimulation can be addressed in many ways, including:
- Take a training class to learn the basics of positive reinforcement training techniques, such as clicker training
- Teach your dogs fun tricks and chain them together for both physical and mental stimulation daily
- Invest in doggy einstein toys developed to get your dog thinking while earning fun rewards
- Teach what dog trainers call “impulse control” behaviors such as “stay” and “wait” and practice them in a variety of environments
#3: Barking from Separation Anxiety
Problem: Some dogs bark excessively when left alone for long or even short periods of time. At the root of this issue is often the condition widely known in dog circles as separation anxiety. This complex behavioral issue sometimes requires a professional dog trainer to help owners address the underlying problem.
Solutions: Take a look at our article exploring training tips for separation anxiety in dogs.
#4: How to Stop Demand Barking
Problem: Some dogs develop the habit of what dog trainers call “demand barking.” This is especially common in some toy breeds, but can occur in any breed of dog. Often the owner has unwittingly encouraged this kind of barking by rewarding it with attention, treats, or giving the dog exactly what they seek when barking.
Solutions: Key to addressing demand barking in dogs is for the owner to realize that they are probably helping to encourage the behavior through their reaction to it. The very first step is to become more aware of what you are doing when your dog barks, and making sure you are not rewarding this annoying behavior.
Other tips for addressing demand barking include:
- Ignoring your dog when they bark by turning and walking away
- “Time out” in a crate or room by themselves when they demand bark, until they quiet down
- Training quiet behaviors such as down, stay, and wait and rewarding them often
- Randomly rewarding calm and quiet behaviors when your dog least expects it
- Learning how to redirect your dog when they start barking so that you can reward them for quiet behavior
#5: Anxiety Around Specific Triggers
Problem: Some dogs seem to bark in response to certain specific triggers. For example, when the mail comes, when someone walks down the street in front of their window, or during car rides. In these cases, the issue often revolves around anxiety that has formed around that specific trigger.
When barking is your dog’s way of expressing their anxiety, punishing the bark can be particularly ineffective, in many cases, making the problem that much worse. One way to understand this is that by punishing the dog in proximity to their anxiety trigger, you are only adding to their belief that the trigger precipitates danger and something to be worried about.
Solutions: Professional dog trainers use two primary techniques to help dogs deal with anxieties of any kind: 1. Desensitization and 2. Emotional Reconditioning. These techniques are supported by a mountain of evidence in research on animal behavior and are also used to treat human phobias and anxiety disorders.
Properly using these techniques is often beyond the skill level of pet owners. If your dog is experiencing anxiety based barking in response to specific triggers, you may want to consider getting some guidance from a pro-dog trainer who can help you develop an effective training program for your dog’s problem barking.
A few other tips to address anxiety barking in dogs include:
Teach and reward an alternative “quiet” behavior separate from the trigger. Once you have deeply reinforced this behavior in a non-stressful environment, you can start to ask for it while slowly exposing your dog to the trigger, rewarding generously for success.
Reward calm behavior as you slowly expose your dog to the trigger in a controlled environment. Clicker training can be particularly helpful for this kind of training work.
Help Your Dog Stop Barking
Here at Lolahemp, we have many customers who have found that our full spectrum CBD oil can help calm dogs which is one potential cause of problem barking. However, we also recommend that owners take the time to identify why their dog is barking, and be sure to address it on a training level as well.
We want to come out against some of the products designed to help with barking on the market, including so-called “barking collars” that use painful shocks, scary noises, or sprays of annoying smells in the dog’s face to curb problem barking. These punitive solutions to dog barking can be traumatic for your dog, increase anxiety around triggers that are already causing your dog to be afraid, and do nothing to address the root cause of this problem behavior in most cases.
Instead, we recommend you give our organic and full spectrum CBD oil for dogs a try. We offer a 30 day money back guarantee, so you can give it a try without risk. And, if you are quality conscious you should know that we are too. That is why we offer third party lab tests on every batch of our small batch crafted oil.