Training Dog Not To Bark When Left Alone

training dog not to bark
Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force Photo by Josh Plueger

Dogs will always bark. Just as children have to cry in order to express themselves, dogs also bark. But some dogs bark a whole lot and it becomes a problem.

It could result in a series of problems which include total disturbance of the family and neighbors or even eviction notices.

In some communities, there are laid down laws that penalize dog owners whose dogs bark a lot and disturb the neighborhood. As a pet owner, you must make sure that your dog’s behavior is not affecting others negatively.

The first step in training your dog to stop excessive barking is to find out what is causing him to bark. Once you find out what the problem is, you can look for ways to tackle the barking problem.

Why Do Dogs Bark?

Barking is the way a dog communicates with humans and other dogs and also react to the happenings in his environment. When you observe your dog closely, you might find what is triggering your dog to bark.

It is a good idea to pay attention when your dog is barking and find out what time of the day he normally barks and why he does that. You also have to find out from neighbors how long he barks when you are out of the house.

Most dogs bark to pass on a message to its owner while some dogs bark when their owners are not around. These are some of the reasons that dog bark.

Seeking Attention

Some dogs communicate his demands to its owner by barking. It might be a demand for food, attention, toys, play, a walk, or petting.

If you are getting ready to leave and your dog starts to bark, it could be a demand for you to stay or take him along with you.

If you didn’t stay behind or take him along, your dog might keep barking long after you are gone. Sometimes, your dog will keep barking as a means of keeping himself company till you return.

A Note of Warning

Some dog breeds are easily startled by sounds and unfamiliar movements in their environment. When an alarm rings, an explosive sound is heard, a stranger enters his environment, or a strange animal passes, a dog might start barking to alert the owner.

Breeds that are likely to be easily startled or to bark in response to strange sounds and movements are hunting dogs such as the German Shepherd and Beagles, watchdogs such as the Dobermann, working dogs like Terrier and small dogs like the Poodles, Chihuahuas, Schnauzer, and Maltese.

Boredom

Some active and energetic dogs might start barking when they run out of activities to engage in. Sometimes, it could be because they have not enough mental and physical stimulation.

When a dog that is used to living in houses with yards tend to bark more when he moves to an apartment where he cannot run around.

Some dogs also find it difficult to live in a house where there are few people if he is already familiar with living in a large family. This could cause the dog to bark often just to keep himself busy.

Anxiety

Some incidents can make your dog become anxious and scared, and it makes him bark excessively.

A change in routine, a change in environment, a visitor, unfamiliar family gathering and events, or the birth of a new baby could make your dog bark.

This anxiety and fear are common in dogs who are living in isolation, have moved from shelter to shelter, or have been trained or retrained over time by different individuals using different training methods.

When dogs are left alone in an unfamiliar environment, they tend to bark due to fear and anxiety.

Exhibiting Dominance

Some dogs are territorial in nature. They do all they can to pass a message across to other dogs in the neighborhood and let them know they are in charge.

Most times, the barking of your dog is in response to the bark of other dogs in the neighborhood. Your dog could bark louder and louder for an extended period to let the other barking dog know that they can do it better.

Your dog could be barking because another dog passed across the yard or near the ‘supposed’ territory. He could start barking to remind the passing dog that he is the dominant force in that environment and his territory should be avoided.

Greeting

Dogs cannot talk so the only way they can let you know how happy they are to see you is by barking. This causes some dogs to bark in excitement. Some dogs also bark when you are about to give them meals as a sign of gratitude.

How Can You Stop Your Dog from Barking When Left Alone?

Stopping your dog from barking when left alone is a task that requires time and patience. It cannot happen overnight. There are some actions that can be taken to prevent your dog from barking while you are away irrespective of the cause. They are:

Create A Daily Routine

If the cause of the barking is anxiety and uncertainty, it is best to establish a daily routine for your dog. it will boost his confidence and create a sense of belonging when your dog knows the event that is taking place in his life and can even predict them sometimes.

Make a schedule of activities like mealtime, potty time, nap time, walk time, and playtime. Let your dog get familiar with the activities in his daily routine. This will calm his nerves and prevent barking that is caused by anxiety and nervousness.

Even though your schedules may vary sometimes, it is a clever idea to keep the daily routine as consistent as possible.

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Exercise

Engaging your dog in exercise has many benefits. It improves the health of your dog, enhances its physical attributes and abilities, makes your dog calm, and prevents barking due to boredom and anxiety.

Dogs that bark when they are bored, do so to keep themselves engaged and to release energy. Exercises can give your dog the stimulation it needs to settle down and have a nice rest. Remember, a well-rested dog is a happy dog.

The exercise you plan out for your dog depends on his breed, how active he is, and his age. Some dog breeds are built to run long distances at a great speed. Their exercise routine will, therefore, be made up of running exercises.

Other breeds might be worn out after a few minutes of running or an hour of walking. Taking such breeds for work or allowing them to run around the yard is all they need to be thoroughly exercised.

When your dog is done with those exercises, they could sleep till you are back from wherever you went. This way, they won’t bark due to isolation distress or separation anxiety.

If you are not able to incorporate your dog’s daily exercise routine into your daily activities, you can:

i.              Enroll him to a dog daycare to enable him to hang out with other dogs, exercise, and also play.

ii.             Introduce him to a dog walker who will take him for a walk while you are not at home. This way, your dog can exercise and also be away from home. You can search online for an organization of dog walkers if you need one.

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Mask the Noises

If your dog barks in response to alarms, unfamiliar noises, barks from other dogs, whistling, bells, and explosive sounds, you can help by turning on dog music, closing the blinds, or increasing the volume of your television or radio.

Closing the window blinds can have a calming effect on some dogs. This is due to the dark environment it creates.

There is some music specially created for dogs that are believed to have a soothing and calming effect on them. You can put on the dog music and help your dog relax if he is barking due to unfamiliar sounds and anxiety.

If your dog associates the sound of the television or radio with your presence in the house, you can leave the television or radio on when you go out. This might give him a feeling that you are around and could help to prevent barking due to separation anxiety and fear.

Train Your Dog to Stay Alone

If your dog is barking due to anxiety, isolation distress or to seek attention, you could train him to be able to stay at home alone.

The whole idea of this training is to get your dog to stay at home alone as long as he possibly can, without barking in distress.

You can train your dog to stay at home without barking using the following steps:

Step 1:

Act like you are getting ready to go out. Go through all the actions you take before going out, like putting on your clothes and shoes, carrying your bag or picking your car keys.

Make your dog believe you are preparing to go out. Then sit back at home and observe your dog. if your dog barks say the ‘quiet’ command while lifting a finger to your lips. If your dog’s stop barking, give him a treat, toy, or praise.

When your dog stops barking when you simulate your departure, it is time to proceed to step two.

Step 2:

After preparing and taking all the actions that show your dog that you are ready to go out, leave the house, and come back almost immediately.

Give him a treat for not barking and repeat this again, spending more time away each time. When you come in, do not create unnecessary excitement, or show sympathy since this will emotionally stress your dog.

Try to come in and act normal. You can even choose to pay little or no attention to your dog. this will make him not to get too emotional when next you are leaving.

Step 3:

Increase the time you spend when you go out. If your dog does not bark each time you step out, spend the number of minutes allotted to each departure then return and give him a treat.

If your dog barks when you leave, come back and give a loud knock at the door. Do not increase the time yet, spend the same number of minutes you spent the last time.

Give your dog a treat if he did not bark. Wait for some time and go out again. Then you can increase the number of minutes.

Every time your dog barks, give a loud knock on the door and repeat this step.

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Enroll Your Dog in An Obedience Training Program

If your dog is barking often due to boredom or to stay active, enroll him in a training school. This obedience training program does not only improve his health, behavior, and mood, it also improves his confidence and interaction with strangers and other dogs.

This also makes his daily routine eventful and prevent barking due to boredom. You can decide to conduct this training by yourself by making use of dog obedience training books and DVDs available online.

Get A Companion for Your Dog

If your dog barks due to boredom, anxiety, or attention, you can reduce or prevent these barks by getting a companion for him.

A dog companion that has the same temperament as your dog could keep him occupied while you run errands or go to work.

A fellow canine can help your dog relax, have fun, and even forget that you were away.

Get Your Dog an Engaging Toy

You can keep your dog occupied with a toy that you do not normally give him on a normal day. This toy has to be an interactive toy that could keep him occupied for a long time.

Some dogs love to chew and can chew at a stick for hours on end. It is, therefore, a clever idea to get some dental chews for your dog. With these, your dog can be occupied with chewing and at the same time improving his dentition.

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Never Yell at Your Dog

Sometimes out of anger and frustration at the incessant barking of their dog, some dog parents could yell at their dog. While some dogs would respond to the verbal corrections, some might not.

The yelling of a dog owner could be misinterpreted by the dog as reinforcements. The dog might think that the owner is joining in the bark. This might make the barking to become established as behavior and make it harder for the dog parent to stop him.

Bring Your Dog Indoors

If your dos spend a lot of time in the yard, he will like to create ways to entertain, self-reward, or keep himself busy. This could range from barking to digging holes and even chasing flies.

Bringing the dog indoors will remove him from the environment where there are a lot of things to bark at. Sometimes, the dog might end up barking at the television and radio.

Some dogs might stop barking once they are inside while waiting for a stranger to walk in so that they can continue barking.

 The Use of Bark Collars – The Last Resort

After trying all these tips and your dog still won’t stop barking, it might be an option to try out the use of a bark collar. While a lot of people frown at this correction tool, you can pay a visit to a vet or a professional dog trainer to discuss the pros and cons of the bark collar.

This will help you to make an informed decision and to also decide the type of bark collar that will be suitable for your dog.

What Is A Bark Collar?

A bark collar is a dog training tool that is used to stop a dog from barking. It is used to control the barking from dogs who won’t stop barking for a long time.

The bark collar looks like a normal dog collar but has other features added to it. The collar is designed to give discomfort to the dog wearing whenever it barks to discourage the action.

If your dog just won’t stop barking and you have tried all you should stop him, it is time to give the bark collar a try. This might help to bring back sanity in your home and in the neighborhood too.

However, it is not a promising idea to use a bark collar on a guard dog. Since its job is to guard the house or the farm, barking is the only way to signal the owners of the danger in the environment.

The bark collars will greatly affect the dog’s abilities to carry out his duties effectively and might even affect the psychology of that dog.

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Types of Bark Collars

There are several types of bark collars and they have their methods of preventing a dog from barking. They are:

The Shock Collar

This is also known as the electronic bark collar. It detects the vibrations from the vocal cord of the dog while it barks. When these vibrations are detected by the electronic collar, it delivers an electric shock to the neck of the dog.

This type of bark collar is heavily criticized by pet lovers and owners as being cruel. Some studies also show that a higher percentage of dogs that wore the electronic bark collar did not actually stop barking.

The Ultrasonic Bar Collar

This type of dog collar has a microphone attached to it. When the dog barks and the sound is captured by the microphone, it triggers the collar to make a high-pitched sound that is uncomfortable to the dog’s ears.

This sound emitted by the collar is of high frequency and cannot be heard by humans. Some ultrasonic bark collars are designed with two sound ranges. One tone is used to reward good behavior while the other is used to correct unruly behavior.

Some pet owners use the ultrasonic bark collar in combination with the electronic bark collar. When the dog is barking, the ultrasonic collar sends the sound signal and the shock is sent by the electronic collar if the barking persists.

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The Citronella Bark Collar

This type of bark collar has a microphone that senses when the dog is barking. When the microphone detects the barks, it will spray a citronella fragrance into the air.

Studies found that citronella collars proved to be quite effective in the reduction or prevent of incessant barking of dogs.

It is also the most preferred bark collar by dog owners. However, there are some setbacks experienced in the use of the citronella bark collar.

Some microphones might pick up the bark sound of a nearby dog and spray your dog. This could get the dog confused about what is expected from him and this might affect the psychological well-being of the dog.

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The Vibration Bark Collar

Another modified version of the dog electronic collar is the vibration collar. It is designed the same way as the electronic collar but instead of sending an electric shock to the dog, it sends some vibrations.

It is believed that some dogs can stop barking if the vibrations are sent to their neck for a long time. But some dogs do not feel enough discomfort from the vibrations to give up barking or unwanted behavior.

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Final Thoughts

Since dog owners can sit their dogs down to explain how annoying ns disturbing their barks are, they are left with no choice than to offer corrections.

Training your dog to stop barking especially when you do not around requires patience and consistency. It is, therefore, a task that requires the cooperation of you and your dog to get it done.

Complaints of the neighbors are one of the reasons why some dog owners might lose their homes. If you are hesitant to use a bark collar on your dog, you can try to train your dog.

Video: How To Stop Dog From Barking At Everything Outside

This video explains how to train your dog to stop barking outside.