Bark Busters

This is Jamie, one of our noisier dogs, but with proper bark busting he too
became a citizen.

Bark Busting On a Walk

1. When I am walking my dog and he starts to bark, if I can, I turn around and walk the other way. I don't let him continue to be inappropriate, with me there begging "please stop", as that almost reinforces his behavior.

I always use a special walking collar like the one shown below. It's round, smooth and has some padding so that when my boy pulls against it, it flattens and conforms to his neck. He's then much easier to control; such collars are great bark busters.

2. Sometimes going in another direction isn't an option. In this case I speed up a bit, hold my dog tight to my side and pull him up, almost off his front feet. The lighter mass of a small dog and the good walking collar allows me to do this humanely; I wouldn't recommend it without the correct collar or with a bigger dog. There's nothing verbal here; the physical corrections make the point. 

3. Sometimes (on a walk or in the back yard) your dog will bark at the neighbor's cat, a passing motorist or the grass blowing in the breeze. First of all you should realize that there are some circumstances where your dog WILL bark. Some breeds bark more than others. If you have done your homework, you'll know where your chosen breed falls on the "bark-o-meter". Then it's your job to not put him in circumstances where his barking is unacceptable. For example, we had a Parsons Russell stay with us once for a month. I learned very quickly not to put her out in the back yard after 10 pm, because every little noise at that time of night set her off. Let's just say that the neighbors were not amused.

Crate Bark Busting

Dogs will sometimes bark in their crates. First, check out Crate Training for Dogs That Hate Crates. Then make sure to cover your dog's crate, so he knows he's off duty. If this doesn't help, a thin stream of water from a spray bottle will distract him -- then "No bark! Good boy!" will get his attention.

Additional Tips

1.If Aunt Mary is over and her cane sends your dog  into a tizzy, you can have him do a trick or two (see Tricks as Distraction). This will often settle him and the cause of concern won't seem to be such a big deal.

2. There are definitely bark busting magic tricks. Here's a good one: Use a small can half filled with pennies. When your buddy barks excessively, throw the can. He'll stop in surprise. THEN say "No bark! Good boy!" Timing is everthing.

3. The best way to teach a dog to stop barking is to teach him how to bark. Basically if you can gain control at the start of the action, you can then end it too. So when he barks (of course at a point in time when it's okay for him to bark) say "Bark! Good dog!" When he barks on command, and only then, you can teach him "No Bark! Good dog!" 

4. And last but certainly not least, quality obedience training that allows your dog to have fun with you, to do work with you, to spend time with you, is practically a magical cure-all. When you teach him to listen to you when you say "Sit!" he'll start to listen to you more in all ways.

Hope this helps, Cathy! Please keep me posted.

Best, Sandy

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