Dogs are like people, sometimes they get overly excited or anxious about something and it triggers them to start barking continuously. As a dog trainer, I often have people ask, how do I get my dog to stop barking?
Barking is similar to lunging in many ways – it usually happens when your dog is worked up or uncertain about something. Sometimes barking is a sign of frustration. If your dog wants to do something but can’t, that frustration might come out as barking.
Identify barking triggers
Start by identifying the things that get your dog barking, and try to avoid them when you can. If you see a dog or other trigger headed toward you on the sidewalk, cross the street or make a turn to avoid a close encounter.
Redirect your dog’s attention
At home, work with your dog on getting some really solid behaviors that you can use to redirect her attention when she is overstimulated. This should be something easy, like sit, a hand touch, or a watch command.
Reinforce positive behaviors by rewarding your dog with a treat for every behavior she completes correctly.
Teach your dog calming techniques
When you have some tools under your belt, try to expose your dog to something exciting in a controlled setting.
For example, if your dog barks when she sees other dogs, take her to a dog park but stay far away from the actual play area. Allow her to see the other dogs, but stay back far enough that she is still able to focus on you. Ask her to do several tricks and practice loose-leash walking.
If she is successful, move a little closer. Make the challenge more difficult a little bit at a time, always ending training sessions on success.
Practice with other dogs
You can also enlist a friend with a non-reactive dog to help. Have your friend walk his dog where your dog can see them, but not too close. Reward your dog for good behavior. Gradually get closer over time as long as your dog is able to stay under the threshold.
When out and about, try to be proactive when you see a barking trigger. If you spot the trigger before your dog does, you can get her attention and ask her to do a series of easy behaviors, keeping her mind in work mode and giving you lots of opportunities to reward her for being good.
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