Friday, November 13, 2009
Posted by Mandy at 8:26 AM
I mentioned in this post that the number one reason people call me to train their dogs is from house training issues. The #2 reason they call - "How do I get my dog to stop barking?"
Though each situation is different, the same factors often apply to a dog that barks to the point of really annoying its owner. Those factors include:
*Lack of Exercise
*Lack of Discipline
*Too Much Affection
*Feelings of Being "Pent Up" - Not Leaving the Yard Often Enough.
If you can do the exact opposite of the things listed above, you will likely dramatically decrease not only barking, but other pesky issues like hyper-activity, obsession, and whining.
Steps to Quiet Your Barker
Step 1 - EXERCISE
Draining energy from any dog will naturally result in the dog having less energy to do unwanted behaviors, such as barking. However, the way you exercise your dog is very important. A game of fetch or chase in the yard is nice - but it usually involves no real discipline. Instead of games, learn to walk your dog where he is at a heel or following behind you. Please - AVOID RETRACTABLE LEASHES. These are my worst nightmare when dealing with dogs. A good walk involves the dog being focused on the owner as the leader. This drains physical and mental energy and puts the dog in the right mind-set to be obedient in other areas of life.
If you have a super energetic dog, use tools like Dog Backpacks to help you drain their energy and give them a sense of purpose. (Their 'job' is the carry the backpack and its contents. It works!)
Once you master the walk (having the dog walk beside you) then you could even try things like roller blades or bikes to help you move at a pace that your energetic dog will love! Another bonus - when you are faster than they are, it blows their mind! Your speed increases your ranking within the pack.
Leaving your yard for exercise is wonderful for your dog's mental state. Just because you have a super large yard, that doesn't mean it's enough for your dog. Even if you lived in a mansion, would you be content to never leave home?
Step 2 - DISCIPLINE
Discipline within a dog pack is quite simple. It's often calm, quiet, and shocking to humans to see dogs properly discipline each other. The silent closed-mouth, intense stares and the low growls can often be totally unnoticed by us, we simply see the last step - the bite. It often looks like an attack. Growling, mouths open, one dog typically crying out in fear. It ends with one dog the victor - pinning the other to the ground. Amazingly, when it's an act of discipline, there will be no blood. It wasn't an attack - it was a necessary lesson for the lower ranked pack member.
How do we apply this to our dogs? Well, unless you want to actually grab a mouth-full of fur to mimic their natural discipline (and, I don't really recommend that...) then simply use your hand as a pseudo mouth. The goal is not to hurt your dog, but to shock and awe them. The first time you use this they will likely immediately snap out of whatever activity they're doing - from obsessing over birds outside to barking and whining because they heard a car door shut in the driveway.
First you warn - "Hey, quiet!" If they don't respond - you bite. A quick touch, but not a hit, to the neck or hindquarters works amazingly well. No pain, no frustration, and they get it. One rule for this to work - you MUST be calm. Dogs simply do not resond to frustrated, excited, too soft, or too stern energy. They crave balance and only become unbalanced because of us. As Cesar Milan said in a past episode of The Dog Whisperer,
"Humans are the only animals that naturally have stress and anxiety. We then create that for our dogs.. it's unnatural to them. I mean, have you ever gone into the woods and seen an anxious bear?"
Step 3 - Stop the Barking Before it Starts
You probably know what triggers your dogs barking episodes, so use that to your advantage. If hearing a car door shut outside sends him into hysteria (as it commonly does for dogs) then wait for that opportunity to discipline them.
If noise triggers them to run to doors and windows and frantically bark - then first you must get between them and the window or door and make them move away. Simply get your leadership skills together and walk towards them, using your hand to point them back. If they ignore, a gentle "bite" will likely get their attention - them repeat the command, "back."
Show them where they should go when they hear the noises outside. Place them away from the door, and stay there with them until they become CALM. If they are still obsessively looking at the door, they've not finished the exercise. Patience and consistency is the name of the game. If they wine, bark, or anything you disapprove of from their waiting area, IMMEDIATELY correct them with a verbal warning. "No.." "Shh.." "Stop.." Keep your cool.
Step 4 - DON'T OVERPRAISE
When your dog finally submits and becomes calm, that is not the time to say "good girl" or "that's great" or anything of the sort. Why? Speaking to them, especially praising them, feeds them energy. The goal is to drain energy. Dogs do not need verbal affection.. ever. That's for us. Do you see dogs patting each other on the back or speaking to each other in high-pitched tones to say "good job"? Nahh... they sense the energy from each other. They know when the pack leader is proud of them. Same goes for their human pack leaders. Simply share calm, proud, happy energy with them... see how they respond!
If your dog just won't stop the yapping, it might be a good idea to contact a dog trainer in your area. There are numerous methods that can be used to stop barking in a gentle way - it is definitely worth seeking help.
If you are in southern Arkansas, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Categories Canine Corrections