Dogs bark for a variety of reasons. Boredom, loneliness, dominance, or attention seeking are key reasons dogs bark. There are a number of different suggestions for how to stop barking. Training to stop dog barking can take some time, especially if you’re working with an older dog. You can teach an old dog new tricks, or at least to stop barking so much, but persistence is key.
If you are working with a puppy, you want to begin early, when the puppy is about 10 weeks old. When they bark or whine, you can simply put you hand around their mouth and say “enough” or “quiet.” You do have to recall that dogs often see you as part of a pack. Don’t yell at the dog, or it may think you’ve joined in the barking. Furthermore, unless the dog is clearly whining at a door to go outside to the bathroom, ignore barking. Give the dog no attention when it barks, and especially don’t pet the dog, since this can positively reinforce barking behavior.
After you’ve given the quiet command for a few days, you may want to work with positive rewards to stop dog barking. Have a small treat in plain view, but don’t give it to the dog if it barks for the treat. Instead, say the quiet command, and when the dog has been quiet for about three seconds, give the treat. Don’t give treats at all if the dog barks.
Some dogs don’t bark when their owners are around, but will bark incessantly while the owners are at work. Trying to stop dog barking when the dog barks all day can be challenging. If possible, you may want to crate your dog, instead of letting them roam free. Moreover, you need to train the dog that barking doesn’t reassure your arrival.
Accustom the dog to you leaving for periods of time, usually short ones. When you return into a room, don’t rush and greet the dog. Also don’t say goodbye when you exit a room. You have to find a way to convince the dog that your goings and comings are normal. If you can leave and have a tape recorder on, you can see if the dog is still barking in your absence. Practice comings and goings, lengthening your time away each trip.
If a dog is barking because it is bored, head to your local pet shop for some entertaining items, which may stop dog barking. In particular, look for safe toys that may treat the dog if they figure out how to get the treat. If a dog has ample amusements, it may stop barking.
When the dog is barking at people like mailmen, try working on the “enough” or “quiet” command, and have people pass by your house. Settle the dog down each time, or use a water spray bottle, which most dogs hate, if the dog barks, growls, or attacks your door.
Sometimes dogs remain persistent barkers despite training, even if you work with a good animal behaviorist, the behavior may just be too deeply ingrained. There are several methods that may work, though some people feel they are cruel. The least cruel is a water or citronella collar. These claim to stop dog barking because they send a blast of citronella or spray water at the dog’s face each time they bark. Some are set off by other barking dogs, so you may not want to use one if you have more than one dog.
Alternately, there are shock collars that can help stop dog barking. Every time the dog barks, a shock emits from the collar. These may work, but some people feel they are cruel. Lastly, there is the surgical process to stop barking called debarking.
Debarking severs the vocal chords, but it doesn’t end the noise. In fact most debarked dogs will end up barking fairly constantly. If you want to stop dog barking because it is annoying you, debarking is one of the last things you should consider, because the dog will make a sound like a cough at you, fairly constantly. While debarking for nuisance barking that is bothering neighbors is a better alternative that taking a dog to the pound, it may not stop barking behaviors and the noise you hear at home. Your best bet is to try to resolve the behavior underlying the constant barking.