Excessive Barking Triggers

All dogs bark, but some breeds and sizes (especially toy breeds) are notorious for barking more, and the longer they practice a behavior, the harder it is to change. If your dog barks too much, you’ll need to identify the “trigger” first, to change the behavior.

Some kinds of barking are:

Boredom barking: Has a monotonous tone.

Use more physical exercise to wear her out, use more interactive toys to keep her busy when indoors.

Play/excitement barking: Short, sharp barks that rise in tone as dog gets more and more excited.

Demand barking: Barking that gets more insistent each time. “GIVE me that, NOW!!”

Ignore any attempts to get your attention. If she barks for toys treats, turn your back on her until she quiets herself, use a verbal marker, like “Yes” or the clicker, and reward her the second she quiets. Continue reinforcing the quiet, building up the time you reinforce and don’t allow her to start a “bark-quiet-reward” chain.

Alarm barking: Barking with a tone of urgency or ferocity that is not heard otherwise. Don’t ignore it! There may BE a burglar or the kitchen may BE on fire. Investigate first, before positively interrupting and reinforcing the quiet.

Greeting barking: Hysterical welcome home or frantic burglar entering above; tone and ferocity will tell you the difference. If possible, with the dog on leash have one person answer the door, while another person uses the interrupt on the dog. If no second person is available, use the interrupt, tether or secure the dog, then greet your guests.

If dog begins barking as you approach the door, either when coming or going, wait outside the door for a few seconds until she’s quiet, remaining very calm and quiet yourself, with no greeting rituals. Then enter and keep your voice and body calm. Do not bend to greet her. When she calms herself inside the door, make eye contact and offer a pet.

For discouraging barking, you will need to decide on your own individual priorities, and choose the appropriate response:

Accept the behavior – You decide when the barking is appropriate and let her have at it!

Manage the behavior – Remove her from any circumstance that is too stimulating.

Use negative punishment – Barking makes a good thing go away! “Oops! Time Out” in the crate or tethered, away from the action.

Teach a positive interrupt cue, and use it to interrupt her anytime she barks, then release her to go play again. You’re redirecting the behavior and teaching her to do something else instead.

Encourage her to carry something in her mouths. A high value toy, she would lose if she barked!