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How to humanely teach a dog not to bark

February 4th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

Dogs bark for many reasons. They bark to let us know they want something or to communicate with other dogs. Sometimes they bark because they are bored or upset.

Often we accidentally reward them for barking. For example, my dog Ernie used to bark at the back door when he wanted back into the house. It worked. I would let him in, so I reinforced the behaviour, even if I didn’t like it when he barked . . . especially early in the morning when my neighbours might be sleeping.

Other times, we reprimand them for barking and they got what they wanted . . . attention. It’s like a toddler whining whenever you get on the phone. When you ask little Johnny to stop whining, he got what he wanted by getting you to talk to him.

I am not a fan of shock collars to stop a dog from barking. They are a last resort, only to be used when everything else has failed and if re-homing the dog is the only other option. Shock collars hurt, so they’ve inhumane, and there is a much better way! We would never use electric shocks to stop our children from misbehaving, so why is it ok to use this on a dog?

I recommend ignoring bad doggie behaviour and only paying attention when the animal is doing it right. This is the best way to train dogs, in my opinion. Punishment-based training only makes dogs more anxious. They might listen to you because they are not afraid of you, but that’s not what you want from your dog. You want your dog to do things because she loves you and wants to please you.

Dog training sessions should only last five to 10 minutes, two to three times daily, since dogs have short attention spans.

It’s okay for your dogs to bark for a short while, since it’s great they’re letting you know someone is at the door. However, they should be taught that you only want them to bark a few times and then stop. What you’re going to do is teach them the “Quiet” command.

The next time your dog starts barking at the doorbell, say “Good speak.” Let her bark three to four times, then say “Quiet.” At the same time, wave a favourite dog treat near her nose. It’s hard for a dog to bark and sniff at the same time, so she’ll likely stop barking right away. Say “Good quiet” and give her the treat. That way she’ll learn she’s going to get a reward if she stops barking, and to associate the command “Quiet” with what you expect from her.

Next, you’re going to wait for two to three seconds of silence before you give her the treat. Session by session, you’re going to work up to two minutes of silence. At that point, it’s likely whatever has triggered the barking has passed, so she won’t have any reason to start up again.

If your dog barks during the Quiet period, distract her to stop the barking. You might want to shake a can full of pennies, bang a couple of saucepans together, or simply walk away. Once she’s stopped barking, you can reward her, and then get her back on track.

Even though Ernie was an older dog at 13 years of age when I decided to address his barking issues, he managed to learn fairly quickly that if he barked at the back door, I would not let him in until he stops. He then sat quietly outside the door, waiting for me to tell him what a good dog he was. Ernie has since passed, but our dog Petee, who we adopted at age ten, has learned the same lesson. You can teach an old dog new tricks!

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