It’s unrealistic to expect that you can completely stop a dog from barking. It would be the same thing as if you weren’t able to speak anymore. So you can’t stop your dog from barking completely. You’ll stop your dog from barking excessively.
Some dog breeds, such as Chihuahuas, love to bark. They bark when they’re excited, afraid, happy or nervous. They bark to protect the house, they bark to get attention. They bark when they’re left alone. With so much barking your head quickly turns into some sort of anvil your dog uses to shape your nerves.
In order to be able to mitigate this frustrating habit you must first understand why dogs bark. Then we’ll look at how you’re unconsciously reinforcing your dog’s barking habit. And finally we’ll talk about what you can do to control this behavior.
Why dogs bark?
Dogs bark for many reasons. Staking out their territory, fending intruders, getting attention and expressing their needs. They also bark when excited, they bark at other animals, they bark to alert you of impending danger (for example, service dogs are trained to bark if they hear the fire alarm), they bark when they’re isolated or they may bark just for the fun of it.
If they are chained up behind some sort of fence, or otherwise making unable to reach you, may lead them to bark. Puppies sometimes bark to express dominance and to challenge your leadership. Stress such as not having a proper place to sleep, boredom, lack of activity (this one is very common), improper socialization. But most importantly, they bark because their owners have consistently rewarded excessive barking in the past.
One of the most annoying scenarios is when your dog appears to be barking at nothing. Most of the time there’s some reason or other that caused them to bark. Keep in mind that dogs have more acute senses so you never know what sort of yummy food is trudging right outside your door.
How am I unconsciously reinforcing my dog’s barking habit?
One of the key things in training your dog is to constantly make clear what you want from him. Yelling something like “You’re driving me crazy, you stupid dog!” is not going to tell your dog anything more than you’re displeased. He’ll be confused because first he doesn’t know why you’re so mad, and second he doesn’t know how to please you.
One of the nastiest mistakes you can do is to reward excessive barking. It’s nasty because it will happen and we’ll never know about it. Here are some of the most common unconscious reinforcements:
1.Yelling and screaming at your dog. Essentially you’re giving your dog the attention he’s craving for, albeit negative attention. But if you weren’t giving him attention anyway, he’s going to be happy with negative attention all the same.
2.Let them in/out. Your dog goes to the door “woof” and voila, the door opens. Then you hear “woof” from outside, and in you let the dog. It’s like your dog is training you. You get the picture.
3.Comforting your dog. Whenever you see him barking you instantly go to him and cuddle, give him a treat, talk with him and otherwise engage in some sort of activity. You’re definitely reinforcing his barking. You’re basically telling your dog you’re very happy he’s been barking, because you’re rewarding his behavior.
This about concludes the most common reasons why dogs bark as well as how to see if you’re unconsciously reinforcing this nasty habit. To find out what you can do to mitigate excessive barking check out stop your dog barking now, or you’ll hate yourself later.