“Your dog barks constantly when you’re not home.” Many of us dog owners have heard that over the years, and it’s extremely unsettling because we feel like there’s almost nothing we can do about this. It bothers us to the point of distraction because we know that a dog that barks a lot is a huge annoyance to those who are nearby. The last thing we want is for our friend to cause problems, and we’re also troubled by the fact that our dogs bark because they too are unsettled.
In response, our human nature tends to take over. When our dogs bark like that in our presence, we have a tendency to overreact and to shout or otherwise react negatively towards the dog. In essence, we react emotionally instead of logically. That’s not a good thing either, as that teaches the dog nothing. KONG understands this struggle, as we’ve been working with dog owners for 50 years. We have some ideas regarding how to get your dog to stop barking that we’re going to share with you below.
1. Determine the Cause of the Barking
The first step in figuring out how to get your dog to stop barking is to define the reason or reasons he or she is barking in the first place. Is there one cause for it, or does it seem to happen repeatedly but randomly? If, for example, your dog only barks at delivery people or at delivery people and people who walk by your home with their own dogs, then once you determine that you have a place to start with your effort to get your friend to stop barking.
It may be easier said than done to gather this intelligence, especially if your dog tends to let loose with these barking outbursts when you’re not home. If that’s what’s happening, see if you can get neighbors to help you. If the person who tells you about the barking is amenable, ask this person to keep track of the barking and what’s happening when it arises. That may not only help you figure out what’s happening, but it could turn a complainant into an ally, which is something that’s always useful.
2. Desensitize Your Dog
If after a few days you figure out that your dog barks only at people who come to the door or only at people who walk by with dogs or even both, then you can put your plan together. That plan for how to get your dog to stop barking should involve desensitization. The more your dog gets used to what he or she is barking at and the more he or she is reassured that this is a normal activity, the less likely it will be that he or she barks at that stimulus or stimuli.
Specifically, if your dog barks at delivery people, the next time you’re home, see if your delivery person would agree to say hello to your friend. After all, dogs tend to react warmly to someone who is familiar. If that happens, make sure your dog is on a leash and that you control the situation meticulously. It may take some time, but after a while, your dog will get used to this person or these people.
3. Make Other Adjustments as Necessary
One of the fundamental variables with regards to how to get your dog to stop barking is remembering that this problem is a result of his or her overall environment for the most part and not necessarily because of one person or thing. You will need to study this situation closely when you have the opportunity in order to identify what other “things” could be causing the problem so that you can take steps to eliminate it.
If your dog, for instance, barks out the living room window at passersby, then you should close the living room blinds or curtains when you’re not home, as you can handle the situation if your furry friend barks while you’re there. If there’s a certain shadow that is cast upon your bedroom that spooks your dog, then trim the bush or plants that cause that shadow to emerge. This may be a lot easier and more effective than any alternatives.
4. Remain Consistent
As mentioned above, how to stop your dog from barking does NOT include yelling at it when it erupts into a barking fit. Most of the time, your dog will think that instead of scolding or correcting it, you’re instead barking along with it and if anything will be encouraged to continue barking. Dogs may understand certain things, but they’re not going to discern your intent that well while they are already riled up.
Come up with a command for your dog when it barks. It can be whatever you want, as long as it’s unique and you use it consistently. For instance, “Settle down” may work or even “Quiet,” but remember to say it calmly so that your dog gets a good feel for your demeanor. That calmness will have an effect on your friend that will get him or her to stop barking before too long.
5. Keep Your Friend Tired
While there is no one reason for the barking, figuring out how to get your dog to stop barking should include an honest question to yourself as to whether this barking is because of boredom. That’s one of the leading causes of repeated barking spells, as it’s a result of your dog not having enough stimuli to keep it interested and satisfied.
As is the case with so many other dog-related challenges, exercise is often the answer to the problem. If your dog is fully satisfied physically, he or she may not be as inclined to look for something to get excited about. Instead, your friend will be busy resting and looking forward to your next adventure.
Of course, other stimuli are helpful as well. KONG Club delivers a subscription box of toys to distract and keep your pet busy, as well as a trained vet team who will help you create Personalized Pet Plans so your dog can lead their best life.
If you’re interested in subscribing to KONG Club, click HERE to get started.