Is your yappy puppy’s constant barking sending you over the edge? If you’re having trouble spotting his volume dial, don’t lose hope. There are ways to discourage your puppy from pesky, non-stop barking.
The key here is to distinguish nuisance barking from ordinary, healthy canine vocalization. Because there is a difference. Let’s take a look at the reasons behind your puppy’s barking and the strategies you can employ to turn down the volume.
Why your puppy may be barking
Barking is a natural way for our dogs to communicate with us. But what are they trying to say? Here are some possible reasons why your pooch is giving his vocal cords a workout.
1. He’s afraid
Does your puppy throw an ear-piercing fit every time the doorbell rings? If he’s on the jittery side, your dog may be barking out of fear. The ASPCA tells us to look for stiff body language as a telltale sign that a barking dog is nervous.
2. He’s being territorial
A dog who sounds the alarm every time someone approaches your property could simply be acting on his instinct to protect. According to PetMD, you can recognize a territorial bark by its loud volume and your dog’s accompanying alert or aggressive posture.
3. He’s bored or lonely
Left alone to their own devices all day puppies can become bored or even depressed and may turn to barking as an outlet.
4. He wants something
It could be a walk, a treat, a pat on the head. When your puppy wants something, he won’t be shy about using his voice to get it.
5. He’s saying “hello”
This one is usually easy to spot. Puppies who bark with excitement when they cross paths with another pet or human will usually appear relaxed, with their tails wagging.
6. He has separation anxiety
Excessive barking can also occur as a result of your puppy’s separation anxiety. The APSCA encourages pet owners to watch out for these other signs of separation anxiety: pacing, destructiveness, and an increase of potty accidents.
When is barking acceptable?
If barking is as natural to your dog as speaking is to us humans, it’s hard to figure out when it becomes too much.
Just how much barking should you allow?
Again, we need to look at the reasons behind the barking. If your puppy is barking because he’s excited to see his doggy friend across the street—not such a big deal. Barking because he’s miserable being alone? Then you have some problems to address.
You’ll also want to consider how your puppy’s impressive vocal range could be affecting your neighbors. This becomes especially important if you live in an apartment complex where neighbors are just a thin wall away. It’s not a bad idea to have a candid chat with your neighbors to find out if your puppy’s barking is out of hand while you’re away. If the answer’s “yes,” you’ve got some change to make and some training to do.
How to train a puppy not to bark
Thankfully, there are effective ways to curb your puppy’s barking habit. We’ll be looking at some training techniques as well as some environmental changes you can make to keep barking to a minimum.
Start by reducing stressors
First, if your puppy is barking out of fear or territorial aggression, the simplest solution is to block his view from whatever is causing him distress.
Draw the blinds, install a privacy window, drown outdoor sounds with the radio. If he doesn’t know the mailman’s coming up the driveway, he won’t know it’s time to bark his head off at him.
Next, try exercise, entertainment, or calming solutions
Regular exercise also comes into play here. Giving your pup a vigorous workout first thing in the morning will leave him contentedly relaxed while you’re away, and his desire to bark incessantly will be greatly diminished.
Barking in response to boredom or loneliness is a touch more heartbreaking. Pick up some new puzzle toys to keep his mind occupied. Or, better yet, consider enrolling your pup in doggy daycare so he has the opportunity to socialize and blow off some steam with his new friends.
Plug-in pheromone diffusers are another option worth trying. These can help keep Fido calm by releasing synthetic versions of the soothing pheromones he naturally gives off. Generally, a calm dog is a less barky dog.
If that doesn’t work, try training
If you see no problems with your puppy’s environment and his barking is still an issue, then we need to look at specific training tactics.
If you have a puppy who barks to get what he wants, PetMD maintains that the best approach is to ignore the behavior. Stand up, walk out, and don’t acknowledge his barking. Only when your dog is quiet should you reward him with a treat.
With consistency, your puppy will learn that howling won’t land him whatever he wants.
Another command you’ll need to work on with your puppy is “quiet.” (“Hush” works too!) The experts at DogHealth.com offer the following tips for mastering this useful command.
- Before he can learn to be quiet, your puppy will need to know how to bark on command. If you haven’t mastered the command “speak” yet with your puppy, here’s a simple guide.
- When you’re ready to start, tell your dog to “speak.”
- Once he barks for a moment, tell him in a kind but firm voice, “QUIET,” and place a tempting treat in front of him.
- When your puppy takes a barking break to sniff the treat, give him his reward.
With enough practice, your puppy will learn to respond to the “quiet” command, and you’ll be rewarded with some much-deserved peace and quiet.
Eliminating nuisance barking is no easy task. Just remember that it’s going to take time, and it’s going to take effort. Be patient and consistent with your methods, and overtime, you’ll see the results you want.