Stop a Nuisance Barker: Try Teaching Him to Bark
Excessive barking has the potential to sour one’s relationship with neighbors sooner or later. Thus, the hunt for an easy and powerful strategy to prevent our dog from barking excessively is an essential job for many dog owners.
When a dog is left alone all day and he barks uncontrollably, it’s because he is bored and seeks focus. He can also be suffering from separation anxiety. Excessive barking may even be due to you unintentionally training your puppy to do it in the first place. Just think of all the times you have yelled at him for doing something wrong. He may have learned that barking is an excellent way to get your attention! Even bad attention is better than no attention at all. He might just love barking for the hell of it as a way to break the quiet. Regardless of the reason, it’s important to stop it in its tracks before it goes out of hand.
There are many ways to stop the noise making. One fun way is to try to show them how to “bark on command.” These are actually fun pet games for kids. All dogs, regardless of size or breed, can be readily taught how to bark. (Except for the Basenji, they can’t bark.) At first, they will likely not comprehend what you want to get them to do, but it is worth a try. With some dogs this has become one of the most effective strategies on how to train your dog not to bark.
With most dogs this a pretty easy trick to train. Your job in this training is to find something that makes him bark. Is it the doorbell, waiting at the door? Maybe it’s being tied up so that he can’t get to you.
The most used method is with a treat. Simply show him the treat, but don’t give it to him. Sort of tease him with it, make a fuss over it, jump up and down happily yelling, do whatever it takes for him to get excited enough to let out a sound. Right now it doesn’t have to be a loud commanding bark. Any sound right now is good enough. When you get the sound click and treat, (if you don’t know click and treat, check the post on this site .) You can build on that sound later by withholding the click and treat to a slightly louder bark and build slowly until it is full-fledged bark.
Once it is clear he understands what is expected of him to earn the treat, start to add the verbal cue of “speak” or “talk” or whatever word you choose.
Now that groundwork is done and Oscar knows and is reliable on the command, “speak,” try this:
Tell Oscar, “speak” (or whatever cue you use). Now interrupt him in the middle of a bark by saying, “quiet.” The moment he quiets, click and treat.
Keep working on this so that each of two commands have some meaning to him.
Now practice in whatever environment turns him on to barking, so that his barking and quiet commands are under your control.
Of course, should he decide that he wants the treat and barks on his own without your signal or command, you in turn totally ignore his demands. Walk away or go do something else with him.
The idea here is that he learns to bark only on your command for payday, and not whenever he wants, and that there is a payday for quiet!