Three Ideas to Stop the Noise
If you want to stop a dog from barking, you probably have sleepless nights, rattled nerves, annoyed neighbors and a spooked mailman. Getting control of those over-active vocal chords can be quite challenging and take patience, but you've come to the right place. This article outlines three approaches to stop a barking dog, listed in order of intervention intensity.
The Psychological Approach
Using pure psychology alone, you should be able to curb your dog's barking habit. The trick is to help your dog associate a negative consequence with barking and a positive consequence for being quiet. To introduce these associations, try the following steps immediately after your dog barks:
1. Swiftly, but calmly, walk to your dog (do not call it to you)
2. Lightly smack its muzzle (nose) with two or three fingers. Your goal here is to get the dog's attention. Do not hurt the dog. Another option is to spray a stream of water on the dog's nose. If you go this route, be sure that you are using the stream option, and not a misty spray setting.
3. Look into the dog's eyes and firmly say "no bark!"
4. Wait until the dog is calm and reward it with affection.
Repeat these steps every time the dog barks. Hopefully, within a week or so, your dog should understand the association and significantly reduce its barking, or stop entirely.
The Technology Approach
If you have tried the psychological approach with poor results and your patience is wearing thin, it may be time to consider a bark collar designed to stop a dog from barking. These collars are placed around the dog's neck and "listen" for barks. When a bark is heard, a small electric shock is delivered through a pair of prongs. Advanced collars (e.g. Petsafe bark collars) have both microphone and vibration sensors that feel the dog's neck, to ensure that the bark heard is the one coming from your dog, and not another dog in the area. You will notice that the bark collar approach is simply a more intense, automated version of the psychological approach of creating negative associations with barking.
If you find electric shock anti-bark collars inhumane, here are a couple of great alternatives you might consider: (1) citronella bark collars for dogs and (2) ultrasonic (high pitch noise) devices.
The "I Give Up" Approach
If neither of the above techniques have worked, an extreme option to consider is devocalization surgery for your pet. With this technique, tissue is removed from the dog's vocal chords to reduce the volume of the bark. This approach, of course, is the most severe and expensive of the three options outlined.
I hope these tips help you stop your dog from barking and that you are enjoying a well-behaved bark trained dog soon. Your mailman will thank you.