Now that you’ve figured out what kind of barker you have, you can move on to ways that can help mitigate the problem behavior.
Training: My favorite training method is to but “Quiet” on command. See below for instructions. For other training techniques, consult a positive reinforcement trainer in your area.
Exercise: Your dog might not have as much barking energy if she gets to run it off at the beach! Mental exercise is as effective as physical, so if you can't get outside try some nosework or indoor games.
Medication: pharmaceutical intervention can be a powerful tool for helping dogs that are anxious or fearful barkers. In those cases, the barking is a symptom of something bigger, and when the bigger issue is addressed, the barking often decreases quite dramatically. If your regular vet isn’t trained in problem barking solutions, consult with a veterinary behaviorist; look for someone who is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.
How to put barking on cue
Some dog owners find success in managing barking by training a pair of behaviors: “Speak” and “Quiet.” Here’s how!
1. Initiate barking by using a controlled bark trigger, like the doorbell rung by your training partner or a knock at the door. You have to be able to control this trigger and make it happen a number of times. Remember, training dogs is repetitive!
2. When your dog starts barking say, “Bark, yes, good bark!” or “Speak, yes, good speak!”
3. Take a tasty and smelly treat and put it in front of your dog’s nose and say “Shhh” or “Quiet.” Do not give the treat if your dog continues to bark.
4. Most dogs will stop barking to take the treat, and when he does this say, “Yes, good quiet!” and give the treat.
Keep the individual sessions short (10-15 minutes), and schedule several sessions throughout the day. Once your dog has learned a good, solid “Quiet”, make sure you reinforce it regularly (two or three times a week). If a new barking trigger presents itself, start over with Step 1. You can find apps with sound effects like sirens, children’s voices or other barking dogs to use as trigger noises.
Jaime Migdal is the founder and CEO of Fetchfind, a talent recruitment and services organization dedicated to the pet industry.
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