A friend called in distress. She needed help because her dog was barking incessantly and her neighbor had complained to the authorities. The friend had been told to do something about the barking or else she couldn’t keep her dog any longer, because the neighbor couldn’t stand that noise. As a person who has lived with dogs for a while now, I have come across this problem before. I understood why the neighbor was annoyed. A dog that barks at any time and for no reason is annoying- he is supposed to bark for a reason, mostly to alert the owners of impeding danger. Barking without any reason is irritating and too noisy especially if the neighbor does not particularly like dogs.
Dogs bark for different reasons, such as to attract attention, when they are excited, when they are startled and as a warning. Sometimes they bark when they are bored and since barking releases adrenaline, barking becomes pleasant and the dog just doesn’t want to stop. Other times, the dog might bark when he is in pain or he has an illness.
First get a vet to check that he is not in any type of pain before you can start training him to stop barking unnecessarily. Barring medical conditions, you can train the dog to stop barking without cause by training him to understand the ‘quiet’ command.
Make sure you only tell him to be quiet in a firm and calm voice because if you yell, he thinks you are joining in the frenzy so instead of stopping he might bark even more. Wait until he stops barking and give him a treat. Repeat this every time he stops barking after you tell him to be quiet and the dog will know barking is not a good behavior.
Make sure to be consistent. Train the dog not to bark unnecessarily no matter what he is barking at. If you allow him to bark when he is excited to see you but don’t allow him to bark when he sees another family member, the dog will get confused and the behavior you are trying to reinforce won’t stick.
For dogs that bark when they are bored, it helps to take them for a walk or exercise them before leaving the house, because this way he will be too tired to bark for no reason. Also, providing toys to keep him occupied when you are gone can help with boredom.
Start curbing the behavior as soon as the dog starts barking for no reason. It’s easier to stop the barking early than when he has already picked the habit.
What to Do About Incessant Barking