How to Quickly Stop Dog Barking
Barking is a natural behavior for a dog however at times it can become excessive especially with a lack of training. Barking has multiple meanings depending on the context of the situation it can mean your dog is seeking attention, they could be frustrated, bored, something could have scared them, they are overexcited the list goes on…
Barking Cannot be Reinforcing
In order to completely eliminate barking, barking can no longer work for your dog, which means it cannot get your attention, it cannot get you to come to them, it cannot get you to play, it cannot get you to feed them faster etc. Dogs perform behaviors that are reinforcing so if you or anyone that interacts with your dog is giving them attention for barking you will not be able to eliminate it as the behavior is still reinforcing.
Eliminating Barking Behavior
The first thing you need to do it figure out the cause of the barking so that you can reduce or eliminate that stimuli to prevent the practice of barking behavior. For example if your dog incessantly barks out of windows you would want to use something such as window cling that will let light in but prevent your dog from being able to see out. This is important because barking out of windows is a self reinforcing behavior, this means that in your dogs mind their barking is what got that person, animal etc to move away. If barking is reinforcing in any way your dog will not stop!!!
When interacting with your dog your goal is to be as proactive as possible when ever you are interacting with your dog inside or outside to avoid reactions. Meaning ALWAYS having a high value reward with you to reinforce your dog for behaviors you like such as not barking at something they normally would. Prevention and/or management are incredibly important in avoiding reactions from your dog as the more your dog gets to practice the behavior the better they get at it and the harder it will be to eliminate. You can prevent unwanted barking by using management such as baby gates, leashing your dog, blocking windows or using their crate when you cannot actively manage them.
You have to also figure out your dogs threshold, a threshold is the distance at which your dog can be to a trigger without a reaction. It is important to note that if your dog is not reacting but is tense and will not accept food chances are you are too close to the trigger. You want to try as much as possible to keep your dog below threshold so that they are able to learn and you can create positive associations. All dogs thresholds are different and while one dog might be okays seeing a trigger at 20ft another dog might need 100 feet or more. The reason thresholds are so important is because when a dog is over threshold they are not able to learn, which means you will not going to be able to change their behavior. \
Avoid Using Corrections
When working with your dog be patient and remember your dog does not know right from wrong, they are amoral beings. Which means they have no idea that what they are doing is “not okay” in your eyes because every behavior your dog exhibits has a purpose or reason behind it. My point being you should be kind to your dog and avoid using corrections of any kind such as Yelling, saying no, saying stop, clapping, using spray bottles, shock collars etc as these things will not teach your dog anything. Using aversive methods for training will only suppress behavior, and instill fear in your dog which WILL make their behavior worst and more unpredictable. Our goal should change their emotions through counter conditioning and desensitization so that they don’t feel the need to exhibit those behaviors anymore.