Owning dogs means accepting some of their behaviors or trying to work on changing unwanted behaviors. Many behaviors affect only the owners, while others may have an impact on neighbors and others.
When dealing with barking dogs it is important to differentiate conditions under which dogs may bark.
Is your dog a breed which you can expect to bark due to their DNA? Many dogs bark according to their nature, such as terriers or herding breeds.
What was your dog bred to do? Is barking part of what is necessary to do their job properly? Can you change this? Probably not. Can you modify it? Generally, yes.
You can’t eradicate behaviors that are instinctual but you can modify behavior due to circumstances.
The specific situation will dictate the approach. When dogs are barking out on the street while walking we tend to begin with positive skill-based training such as Sit Stay, Focus and/or treats. This retrains dogs to positive approaches to the distractions they are barking at.
However, knowing why they are barking is critical to the tools you may use, such as turning away, spray or sound deterrents, or other corrections. In other cases, you can work on desensitization by flooding the dog with distractions they bark at to get them used to them.
Indoors dog might bark territorially or excitedly. If you are right there, you can begin working on desensitizing them by blocking windows and teaching them to go to a spot where you give them something positive to do.
If people are coming in the house, then designating a spot for greeting is important. Using a mild deterrent such as noise correctors or spray bottles, along with positives such as attention, toys, treats and play can help to change their indoor attitudes.
However, there are many more situations when training them not to bark that using redirections and desensitization are not going to help in the short run. These situations are when you are not there to train, or when there are time considerations where the dog needs to stop barking immediately.
If neighbors can hear your dog barking when you are not home and they complain about it, then training becomes secondary. In some cases landlords may advise getting rid of the dog unless you can control the barking. What to do if you are not there to control it? You might be evicted if you don’t solve this issue.
This doesn’t mean training should not take place, but if you are not there to do it, you may need a deterrent training collar in the meantime. Depending on the dog this means options such as sound, vibration, spray or stimulation.
Each dog is different and finding out which works for your dog takes a bit of work. But, keeping your dog or keeping your living place means finding out quickly. If incessant barking has put you in this situation, contact a knowledgeable trainer.
Excessively barking dogs can be a challenge, but don’t give up!
Abby Bird is owner of Alphadog Training Academy. AlphadogTrainingAcademy@gmail.com