Most dogs who bark at strangers or other dogs are either scared, frustrated, or both. Here are some tips to help you teach your dog to remain quiet in the house and out on walks:
- Exercise your dog as much as you can (walks, tug, fetch). Dogs who have too much pent up energy will use it to bark.
- Bring treats with you on walks so that you can reward your dog whenever he doesn’t bark.
- Use a gentle, but firm tone of voice and get on your dog’s level to talk to him. Yelling sounds like barking to your dog, and it will just make him want to bark more with you.
- Get excited when you see something that usually makes him bark. Tell him how happy you are that there is another dog (or stranger, bike, skateboard, etc.) to practice with, and give him treats every time he sees one. As soon as the dog (or stranger, bike, skateboard, etc.) is out of sight, stop treating and ignore your dog.
- If your dog barks at someone or something on your walks, quickly walk him away (using steady, gentle leash pressure – NO YANKING!) from it while he is barking , then slowly return toward it using tips #3 and #4. This is to teach him that barking does not make the scary thing go away, it makes him go away.
- Teach your dog the WATCH ME command to help distract him from barking:
In a quiet place without distractions, excitedly say WATCH ME and then feed your dog a treat. Repeat several times, and then say WATCH ME, but wait for him to look at you before you give him the treat. Practice everywhere you take him until he will respond to you every time. Ask him to WATCH ME every time you see something that would usually make him bark (followed by tip #4).
- Only allow your dog on your patio/balcony or in your yard when you are there with him. That way you can treat him, pet him, and play with him every time there is something he would usually bark at, and you can bring him back inside immediately if he starts to bark (then let him back out when he is quiet). Over time, your dog should learn that he has to stay quiet in order to be allowed to stay outside with you, and you may be able to allow him outside while you are supervising from indoors.
- If your dog barks at random noises he hears, try playing calming classical music such as Through a Dog’s Ear (available on Amazon.com) to help relax him and drown out the noises.
- If your dog barks at you to get your attention, simply say NO (just once) and then immediately walk away. Return to him when he is quiet and you can then give him what he wanted (Warning: he may get worse at first because he will be frustrated that his barking doesn’t work anymore and you may have to repeat the procedure several times for him to get the idea).
- Try these training tips in my YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfZ2eTJuVf8
FACT: Dogs don’t have to bark.