How to Stop Your Puppy Barking
Want to stop your puppy barking? Let me show you how you can stop your puppy barking before it becomes a problem for you and your neighbors.
People talk. Puppies bark. Barking forms part of normal puppy behavior. It's one way your puppy communicates with you. After all, one of the reasons for getting a dog is that he can warn you about anything unusual. You may even want to encourage this behavior.
On the other hand your puppy may also bark for inappropriate reasons. If his barking becomes excessive, it's time to put a stop to it. There's little more annoying for neighbors than a puppy that's barking relentlessly.
The best and easiest time to teach your dog when it is and isn't appropriate to bark, is when he's still a puppy.
But before looking at ways to stop your puppy barking, let's first look at some of the reasons your puppy may be barking...
Why Do Puppies Bark?
Dogs and puppies bark for good and not so good reasons...
- to alert you about something unfamiliar
- when they feel threatened
- in reaction to other dogs barking
- when they're excited for instance while playing or when you get home
- to get your attention
- when they're bored or lonely when you're not at home
Just make sure that barking doesn't become a nuisance in any of these situations. Teaching your puppy to stop barking early on is far easier than trying to stop your puppy barking when it's already become an annoying habit.
Here's what you can do...
Ways to Stop Your Puppy Barking
You can use several methods to stop your puppy barking. The correct measure often depends on the reason for the puppy barking. At the start you should thus identify why your puppy is barking.
If your puppy is barking at every pedestrian, cyclist or car passing your house, he's barking to alert you to the 'imminent danger'. Make sure that this doesn't become his new hobby though. One way to stop the puppy barking is by keeping him on a portion of the yard from where he can't see the road. By doing this, you're removing the stimuli, which set off the puppy barking.
To stop this kind of barking, it often helps to abruptly stop the puppy barking. You can do this by throwing a soda can filled with pebbles near (not at!) the puppy. The sudden noise startles the puppy and he'll stop barking. As soon as the puppy stops barking, give the command "Quiet!" and immediately praise your pup and give him a treat.
Instead of the soda can, you may also try a fog horn. I have also had a lot of success with squirting the puppy with a little water from a water pistol. Again, as soon as the puppy stops barking, say "Quiet!" and reward him.
If your puppy is barking to get your attention, the best thing is to ignore him completely. He may want you to feed him, play with him or take him for a walk.
Don't give in...
...even if your puppy is very persistent. If you do so eventually, you'll just be teaching your puppy that if he barks long enough, he'll get what he wants. You're unintentionally supporting your puppy's barking. Even giving him negative attention for instance by saying "quiet!" will often only reinforce his barking. You need nerves of steel for this, but in most cases it works.
If your puppy barks continuously when playing, stop play immediately and allow him to calm down. Resume play only when he's stopped barking. Always be consistent, he must understand that barking means no play.
Your puppy may also bark while you're not at home. Unless your neighbors complain, you're probably not even aware of this. In this case your puppy is barking either because he's bored or suffers from separation anxiety.
If he's just bored, give him something to do and play with. Toys that can be filled with treats are a good diversion. Sufficient exercise is also important. If he's tired, he's less likely to be bored.
I take out our dogs for a run along the car very morning. I do this on a quiet country road, where there's no traffic. The dogs just love it and are quiet for the rest of the morning. I do not recommend this for puppies under 6 months though. Even for adult dogs, don't overdo it in the beginning and build up their stamina gradually. Be very careful if your dog is overweight.
More difficult is to stop the puppy barking because he feels lonely or anxious when he's alone. Again adequate exercise may also help, however, you also need to get your puppy to relax when you're gone.
Start by leaving him alone for very short periods at first (a minute or less) and then return before the puppy starts barking. Gradually and very, very slowly increase the time you're gone. Always return before your puppy starts barking. Eventually your puppy will learn to relax when you're not at home and stop worrying whether you'll return.
One of my neighbors had a little Jack Russell terrier who would bark for hours on end when they were at work. He was confined to a small portion of the yard the size of a living room. He had nothing to stimulate him or play with. In his frustration he took up barking to keep him occupied. The slightest noise or movement would set him off. And then he would continue for hours - literally.
I spoke to his owners on several occasions, made suggestions about what they could do, but only got angry responses. They just didn't accept that they had a problem. Eventually other neighbors complained and the city's Dog Control Unit was called. The next thing I heard was that the owners had decided to debark (remove the vocal chords) their dog. To this day I feel that they took an easy way out and should have tried other measures first to stop his barking.
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