There are several reasons why your dog barks. You must distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate barking to properly teach your dog to stop only when he shouldn’t bark. If your house is being robbed and you’ve scared the bark out of your dog he’s not going to be very good at alerting you to trouble.
Dogs bark for all kinds of reasons: aggression, defending their territory, to sound the alarm, to get their needs met, to get attention, and boredom. It is this boredom barking (barking for no good reason) that we want to stop, right? Before you do anything else, find out why your dog is barking. If he needs something (food, water, shelter, to be let outside) make sure he has it and doesn’t have to ask. Basic essentials should never be withheld from your dog!
Give your dog attention; it’s what he wants!
If your dog barks to get your attention, give it to him. Spending quality time and praising him for good behavior is essential to any training method. Always use positive reinforcement for good behavior. Don’t neglect your dog! An ignored dog can quickly become a nuisance and unmanageable, through no fault of his own.
Strategies to stop the barking
Once you know why your dog is barking, you can employ these tactics to stop the inappropriate type.
1. Catch your dog in the act. Yelling at a dog an hour after the fact won’t do anything except scare him. Don’t hound your dog, but if he starts barking get there as quickly as possibly. In a strong voice say “NO!” or “No Bark!” Repeat this whenever you get the chance, as often as possible. If other people live in your house, tell them to keep on your dog as well. This should curb your dog’s cravings to make noise. Remember, he does want to please you!
2. Employ a spray bottle. This works with my dog beautifully, and it’s completely harmless. Fill a spray bottle with cold or room temperature water. Set the spray to a stream. Every time your dog has a fit, squirt him with the water bottle. Avoid squirting him in the eyes or if he’s barking for a genuinely good reason. Continue to use the command “no” or “no bark” along with the spray bottle.
3. Use (completely humane) scare tactics. If your dog doesn’t care about being wet, you can always try to startle him out of his bad habits. Fill a film canister or something around the same size with a solid lid with small coins or rocks. When you’re dog barks, shake the canister around them or throw it near his feet. Do NOT throw it AT your dog, and never hit him. You want to startle him out of barking by giving him something else to focus on. You might be able to get away with a baby’s rattle or something similar.
Important! Consistency is a must for good results. If you don’t stick with a method and you allow your dog to get away with continuing the bad behavior (no matter what it is) your training will be meaningless. You won’t get the results you want unless you are persistent in your efforts.