It’s relentless, bordering on deafening. As soon as you open the door, he’s barking. As soon as it approaches meal time he’s barking because he wants his food. If he wants any attention then he starts barking. If he needs to go out to the toilet, he’ll bark at you until you take him out. There’s no shutting him up either, he’s stubborn. He’ll keep barking until he gets what he wants and it’s driving everyone in the house up the wall. You all love him, but the barking has to stop.
If you can train your dog to stop barking you can enjoy relaxing and peaceful evenings. You won’t have to turn the volume up to hear the TV. It will also mean you can take him to public places without being embarrassed by his constant ramblings.
Training your dog not to bark won’t be a walk in the park, especially if he’s stubborn. You’ll need to address the underlying cause of his barking. If it’s attention-seeking behavior, you’ll need to stop giving in when he barks. You can also train him to bark and then be quiet on command. This will allow you to quickly silence him when the barking does start. If he’s a stubborn little puppy he should still be receptive and may respond to training in just a week. If he’s older and been barking for many years you may need up to three weeks to finally put a pin in it.
Succeed with this training and your house will return to a quiet environment where you can take phone calls. You’ll also be woken up by your alarm in the morning instead of his barking.
Before you can get to work you’ll need to gather a few bits. Treats or some tasty food broken into small pieces will play an important part. For one of the methods, you’ll also need to invest in a deterrence collar. You may also need a water bottle (more on that later).
For one of the methods, you’ll need to set aside 10 minutes each day for training. For the other methods, you’ll need to be around him as much as possible to react to his barking as and when.
The only other things you’ll need are ear plugs and patience. Once you’ve got all of that you can get to work!
Stella is a rescue who came with some behavioral issues. She constantly barks at strangers in places she feels comfortable, especially males. For example, on walks, or at work where she is invited to come daily if she sees someone she is not friends with she will go insane barking, lunging and and annoying these people. Because these are familiar places for her she tends to feel comfortable with baking aggressively at strangers. She does not act this way in unfamiliar places and actually acts quite nervous and scared. I have tried ultrasonic collars, pet corrector spray cans and telling her no, but she doesn't respond to any of them. How can I fix this? I'm desperate, since she is a rescue and has been rehomed multiple times I am not willing to give up.
Hello Justine, It sounds like Stella needs to be desensitized to strangers, especially since, although she is quiet, she is still nervous around strangers at other locations too. This means that the aggression is probably fear-based. Recruit as many friends and people as you can, who Stella does not know and tends to bark at, to help you get her used to strangers one person at a time. Have your volunteer walk toward her until Stella gets a bit tense but is still under control. When the person is close enough for her to notice them, then have the person toss her treats from that distance. Have them toss her a treat before she has a chance to react in the first place, whenever she gets quiet for even a second, and whenever she calms down a bit. Continue the treats for as long as she is doing well, until you run out of treats during that session. You can use her own dog food pieces as treats for this if she is very food motivated. To make her own food more interesting, you can also put her own food into a zip-lock bag with a kibble topper treats, which are usually freeze dried meat, that have been mashed up into powder. Letting the food sit in the powder in the bag overnight should make the dog food more enticing. As she improves, then have the person get closer while practice the treat tossing. When the person can stand right in front of her and she will remain calm, then let Stella greet the person if she chooses to. Let Stella be the one to initiate the interaction though. If she initiates an interaction, then have the person feed her treats from her hand, one treat at a time. You can add a bit of touch with every treat if she becomes completely relaxed around the person. While the person is tossing the treats, have the person ignore Stella in other ways and not speak to her or act too exciting at first. Practice this scenario with a new person whenever Stella becomes comfortable with the current person. You can also practice this with different people during the same week, but only do one person per interaction. The goal should be a lot of different people over the coming months. You want her to interact with enough people for her to generalize the experience to all people and not just a couple of people that she was fed by. When she is out in public with you and quiet but nervous, then whenever you approach a person or she notices someone, praise her, do a fun little dance to get her excited, and give her a couple of treats. You want her to look forward to people being present because it is fun and rewarding for her. Even though she does not bark at those people, dealing with her underlying fear should help her response toward people at the office too. If you cannot practice her training at the office at first because she is too reactive, then have people come to your home if she tends to act aggressively toward visitors there too. She should also be comfortable in that environment, and likely to react. Other locations where she is reactive will work too. Leave her at home from work during the day if you can while you are working on the training at home and in other, non-office locations with her, so that experiences at the office do not set you back until she is ready for them. When she is doing well enough at home to be less reactive toward visitors there, then practice at the office around co-workers. You might even want to go to the office on off-hours or days if that is an option, and have some of your training volunteers meet you there to practice, before trying the real thing during work hours. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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