How to Reduce Intolerable Dog Barking at Home
If your dog excessively barks at people passing by or noises outside, this disturbance can aggravate you and your neighbors. To improve your dog’s behavior, we reached out to the professional dog trainers at Vigilant K9 to learn more about their tips and tricks to reduce this intolerable noise. Kayleigh Omang from Vigilant K9 is a dog trainer and a certified AKC Evaluator. She shared her expertise on how to help stop or prevent excessive barking in dogs. Check out our interview with her below.
What are common reasons dogs excessively bark?
Dogs excessively bark for a few reasons. Usually, this is due to under stimulation. They haven't been given an appropriate outlet and they are barking out of boredom. I like to say a fulfilled dog is a tired dog. It could also be that you just haven't told your dog that it's inappropriate to bark. Dogs like black and white rules, so making sure you're correcting your dog for barking. Rewarding your dog for not barking is a big part of it, too!
Is all barking considered bad?
I'd say it depends on who you ask. Over arousal/excitement can cause barking, and some breeds are noisier than others. I like to give my dogs a time and place to bark because I often encourage that high drive in my own dog and want her to be excited about the work she's doing. However, it's only allowed when she is training or working. For example, the kennel or in the house is not a place to bark and it's never tolerated or allowed in my house.
How do I know if my dog has a barking problem? What are some common signs?
If it bothers you or you’ve received complaints, then it's probably a problem! You set your own rules for your dog, not the other way around. If you're bothered by it, contact a trainer to help you curb this behavior.
What does the training process look like to reduce the amount my dog barks? What is your number one tip?
It depends on the dog. Some dogs do well with a stern “no” verbal correction when they are barking. Others need a more slow and steady process of rewarding for being calm and slowly adding in more and more distractions they would normally bark at.
What would you recommend as a reward for dogs during the training process?
Whatever your dog works for! Some love their kibble, some need a better training treat. Others love toys and some will train for praise! We encourage you to always reward your dog for their hard work with whatever they find valuable.
What type of environment is best for this type of training?
All environments! A well-socialized and well-trained dog should be ready to train in all scenarios. If you're still working up to that level, it's good to start in home, then in a controlled environment, then in a park, and finally a dog-friendly store.
How long does this training typically take?
It's on a case-by-case basis, since all dogs are very different.
Do you have any advice for owners who live in an apartment and are struggling with this noise issue?
Hire a trainer. They can help troubleshoot why your dog is barking and what steps are necessary to get to the end goal. Because of this, if your dog barks excessively, it's important to remember that hiring a trainer won't be a quick fix. If you're getting noise complaints, we can't guarantee that will stop after a few weeks of training. It takes 4-6 months of constancy and routine to create a learned behavior. So, if your dog has learned to bark in certain situations and has been allowed that for the last year, then changing that learned behavior to a different one will take time.
My dog no longer barks while in our home. What should I do if my dog barks at strangers or other dogs in public?
Work with what we call zones. This means that you want to work away from distractions and move in closer. I like to compare zones to a stoplight. A green zone means the distraction is far enough away that your dog doesn't pay much attention. A yellow zone is where the "training" happens. You might get a woof here and there, but you are able to control your dog and recapture their attention. Stay out of a red zone, that means you're too close to the distraction and you've lost all your dog's focus and need to move out of that zone in order to gain him back.
Vigilant K9 is located in Fargo, ND and is owned by Head Trainer, Allison Case. Allison graduated from Starmark School for Dog Trainers in 2013 and started her business soon after. She owns an 8-year-old Malinois/GSD mix named Niko, who is a certified Human Remains Detection Dog for Valley Water Rescue. Allison and Niko recently competed together on A&E America’s Top Dog!
Interested in some training for your pup? Vigilant K9 specializes in training for basic and advanced obedience, scent discrimination, and puppy foundations. You can learn more about them on their website: https://www.vigilantk9-fm.com/