How to stop puppy barking
Before answering the question how to stop puppy barking, you should know more about puppy barking. This is one behavior that should take no one by surprise. People talk. Dogs bark! At least, most do. How much they bark, and when, are the variables that depend on breed, age, and your response.
Of course, nobody likes to hang with a dog who barks uncontrollably, but few realize that this habit starts in early puppyhood. The first step to answer the question how to stop puppy barking, is looking at things from his perspective: the why, when, what, and where.
- Why? There are as many reasons a puppy barks as there are reasons children talk. To get attention. To protest. To effect change. Just to hear themselves. Many utterances are instinct drawn: the guttural woof of a 4-month-old Rottweiler in response to a sound in the night can take even the puppy by surprise.
- When? This is also revealing. Is your puppy barking when you’re home or away? When you’re on the phone or speaking with someone, or when he’s isolated from you or outside alone? Is he alerting to a noise or a sight? Does he bark at the door or on your walks?
- What? Finally, ask yourself what’s prompting the vocalization. Isolation? Boredom? Lack of attention? Is your puppy trying to mimic yelling or musical sounds? Is it more environmental—is he barking at something or someone (a sight or a sound)?
- Where? Next consider where your puppy barks. In the car, in the crate, or at home? Is it happening in one specific room or at a window or a door- way? Inside, outside, on your property, or off?
Once you’ve considered the previous questions, read over these six categories of puppy barking and see where you fit to stop puppy barking problem.
Puppy barking categories
The 2nd step to answer the question how to stop puppy barking is knowing different types of puppy barking categories.
This puppy more than wants the spotlight: he needs it, either to feel safe (an insecure puppy) or to feel respected (a bossy fellow). In the midst of self-identification, he’s too young to figure life out for him- self and needs reassurance from you in the form of constant reflection.
Naturally, 100%, one-on-one attention is best, although even a short glimpse will satisfy his need. Your “other life,” whether that involves talking with someone else or busy work, leaves this puppy feeling disconnected and stressed. If barking works, even if it only begets negative attention, it will be repeated. Indefinitely.
This pup thinks he’s your protector and your guardian: alerting you to visitors and protecting you from perceived threats are top priorities. Though you may want him to mature into a dog who barks at intruders, you probably don’t want him threatening your house guests.
This comedian is all about fun. Even if barking rouses flagrant disapproval, the interaction is noted as confrontational play. The play escalates, and the barking continues!
Puppies, like babies, are social creatures. People and dogs thrive on interaction and reflection, especially as babies (or pups). Bouts of isolation when you’re home are beyond comprehension: “Why the separation?” Stints outside are no fun: there must be two to play!
As a puppy matures, he will tolerate isolation and perhaps even enjoy the time alone. If forced to suffer isolation during his early stages, however, his unmet need for reflection will not be satisfied, and he may displace his frustration through chronic barking.
If it works to bring you back, it will continue. Indefinitely. As this pup matures, he’ll have an insatiable demand for reflection (since it was not provided during the critical time) and will continue barking when frustrated by isolation.
5-Sound or motion
This passionate puppy is attuned to everything! Acute hearing and/or visual sensitivity go far beyond the demands of the average household. Terriers, also known as sound hounds—bred to sense the motion of a tiny mouse under a woodpile—are no longer praised for their strengths.
A herding dog, bred to alert to a tiny hoof step in a herd of sheep, just aren’t appreciated for their rapid eye response. When you yell as a result of your puppy’s barking, he perceives you to be barking, and it only intensifies his reaction.
Timid, nervous, or under socialized puppies bark when startled by a person or a noise. It communicates their inner confusion. Though it’s tempting to soothe, please don’t—your interaction will reflect their emotion and will not direct them.
Solutions to stop puppy barking
The 3rd step to answer the question how to stop puppy barking is following these tips according puppy barking category.
1- Attention getting
To stop puppy barking, you should know that this puppy learns quickly that the surest way to get your attention is to bark. Whether your reaction is negative or positive doesn’t matter: if you stop what you’re doing, and look to him, he’ll bark again—guaranteed!
- First things first: is your puppy getting enough attention? Your pup might have a valid gripe.
- Use the lessons which hone up on your leadership skills. Direction ensures safety, and safety a sense of calmness.
- Increase the exercise, and find some puppy friends. Play dates aren’t just for kids anymore.
- Ignore those early barks. No acknowledgment whatsoever. If you can ignore the first three bouts of barking, your puppy will try something else. I speak from personal experience. Whoopsie barked at her dinner station through two full meals. It gave everyone a headache. She got the message early: barking doesn’t work. When she finally chewed her bone, we lavished her with praise.
- Buy earplugs if you have a hard time ignoring your puppy. Again, I speak from personal experience.
- If ignoring is proving impossible, try a distracting object when the behavior is predictably at its worse. A peanut butter–like spread stuffed inside a hol- low toy can work miracles.
- A startle approach with a penny can or a spray (using a water gun or a blaster) may work, although you must be discreet. Your puppy must think the reaction is coming from the environment, not from you.
- Another technique I like is to use a head collar and a leash. Secure it to your side or onto an immovable piece of furniture. A gentle pull will tuck your puppy’s head into a quieting position.
- If your landlord is threatening eviction, you may try a citronella barking collar, although this may only be used in conjunction with other behavioral techniques.
To stop puppy barking, you should avoid yelling at this puppy; he’ll perceive your yelling as barking and your mimicry as backing him up. This barking is instinctive (part of his genetic blueprint). Our goal is not to eliminate it but to shape its focus. The ideal? That your maturing dog barks to alert and finds you, “his leader,” for further direction.
- Bring him to your side, and reward him enthusiastically.
- Leave your puppy on a leash when supervised. Keep a treat cup handy or in your pocket.
- When he alerts to a noise, praise him.
- If he continues to overreact, stand tall and say, SHHT, as you tug the leash. Completely ineffective? Try a Good Dog collar or a head collar.
- Teach BACK TO ME by saying these words as you clap, wave a toy, or shake his treat cup. (Practice first when he’s undistracted.)
- If it’s the doorbell, go to the door together (hold the leash), and instruct him BACK to your side or to a specific greeting station (see the corresponding box).
- Set up situations asking a family member or a friend to ring the doorbell three times at thirty-second intervals. If your puppy alert barks a couple of times and then looks to you, praise and treat him. If he continues, tug the leash and refocus him with BACK.
Hone up on your obedience. Take a class to ensure proper social etiquette. Protection puppies are powerful and determined: help yours shape a positive world- view. A good protection dog always takes his cues from his owner and family.
To stop puppy barking, you should know that this outgoing puppy has a hard time taming his enthusiasm. If not headed off at the barking phase, he may escalate into rough play. Vary your approach accordingly.
- Often, this puppy is tired and needs to be settled for a nap.
- Divert his attention with stimulating toys or an interactive run. If this esca- lates his hyperactivity, end the play session.
- Try to calm him with comforting long strokes: the soothing effects of a mother’s tongue.
- If this pattern continues, attach a head collar and a leash to settle him when stimulated.
To stop puppy barking, you should get attention, this barking generally results from over-isolation.
- Exercise and training are important. Tired puppies are more relaxed.
- If isolation results from poor manners, use the leading and the stationing techniques described in this book to civilize your pup. A welcome puppy is a happy puppy.
- Directions to WAIT and STAY are important. Both indicate that your separation is temporary.
- Stage departures. Station your puppy with a mat and a bone. Leave for a few minutes. If he barks during any or all of your absence, don’t worry. Return to the room as planned, and ignore him until he quiets down. Greet calmness with gentle, quieting pats.
- Gradually increase your timed departures as his tolerance increases.
- Avoid rescuing a barking puppy. Your reinforcement won’t help either of you.
- If you’ve got a marathon barker, you may try a cause-and-effect sequence to
discourage him. Either discreetly stage a spray correction (he mustn’t know
you’ve returned or are watching him), or try a commercial citronella barking collar.
5-Sound and motion
Things that you or I might never see or hear become life- shaping events for these puppies. Serene companionship is nearly impossible if the barking is left unabated.
- Lessons are a must, as they teach your puppy to put you above outside dis- tractions. When everything is distracting, getting your puppy’s focus is a real plus. If you can pinpoint a time of distraction that really sets your puppy in motion, work your puppy outside of his Red Zone (the distance from the distraction at which he can stay focused on you). Slowly inch closer to the distraction. If food is a strong drive, use it to encourage your puppy’s attention.
- Can you block off your puppy’s access to areas that are most stimulating? I know a Wheaten Terrier named Duffy who went totally bonkers when the school bus arrived in the afternoon. Lessons helped, and so did blocking the access to the front room from 2:30 to 3:30 until he had a better handle on his impulses. Sometimes the most obvious solutions are the most effective.
- When you’re home with your puppy, keep him on leash. Correct any alert barking with a quick tug and NOPE, and quickly refocus him on an appropriate distraction toy. In my house I said, KILL THE DUCK (politically incorrect, I know), and my terrier would shake her duck around. Clever girl!
- A discreet blast of citronella spray from behind can also be an effective deterrent. Refocus your puppy immediately on a toy.
- Play the swing toss game from chapter 5 to give your puppy an outlet for his energy. Investigate other toys that slowly dispense food as your puppy plays with them, such as the Buster Cube and Jolly Balls. They’re great for pup- pies with high prey drive.
The temptation is to caress and soothe this puppy. Don’t. Please. Your empathy will be misconstrued as fear (your body is small, your voice tone feeble, and you’re crouching behind him).
- Act confident and sure of yourself. Don’t miss a beat.
- Direct your puppy with familiar words to help him feel safe.
- Be an example of calm. He’ll follow your lead.
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