Be aware that educating a dog not to bark is a process that takes time (weeks or even months), but you don’t have to be discouraged and give up. The first few times it will take firmness and it will be a test of tenacity even for yourself, but the results will come, if you know how to reward your puppy, at the right times and in the right ways.
Barking is the only system a dog has to express feelings, emotional states, and the needs he needs. Sometimes, however, a dog that always barks can also be a symptom of some behavioral disorders, on which you must work so that your four-legged companion does not become, especially for the neighbors, a dog that barks too much.
Getting the dog to stop barking must in no way involve violence or even surgery (such as cutting the vocal cords, a procedure fortunately prohibited in Italy). When you approach this path of education with your dog, try to respectfully “involve” the neighbors too, if you have any, because in the early days it will take patience on their part too. Explaining to them that you are learning how not to make the dog bark will give you hope for a little more tolerance from your neighbors.
How to teach your dog not to bark at people
As soon as you identify the motivation that leads your dog to bark, you will know how to intervene: dedicate yourself to eliminating this motivation. The dog feels a sort of satisfaction in barking: if that is taken away, the dog will no longer have reason to continue.
For example: if your dog in the garden barks at passers-by or other dogs outside its territory, get into the habit of accompanying him inside the house right away. The first few times he will probably continue to bark from inside the house, so lower the shutters or close the curtains. He will understand, after a few times, that the barking precludes him from the joy of being outdoors, and over time he will stop this behavior.
Contrary to popular belief, a key thing to observe is to ignore your dog when he barks. Yes, it seems very difficult, but if you understand the reasons, it will be easy to implement. If we raise our voices with our dog barking, he will interpret our attitude as approval. Not recognizing what we say to him, he will seem to argue with us without understanding that it is not the right attitude to have.
If we ignore him (don’t look at him, don’t talk to him, don’t pamper him!) And teach him the command “on the ground” with a firm voice and without screaming, we will only be able to gratify him with a treat after he has calmed down. Wait a few minutes before rewarding him with the snack, so that he cannot get confused about the right attitude to adopt: over time he will understand that it is the calm that is rewarded and not his barking.
Another way to get your dog to stop barking is to distract him.
Drop Something on the ground or throw his favorite ball at him, shift his attention to something else, like play. As soon as he gets close to you, give him the “down” order, and after he has done it, reward him.
Let’s remember that dogs show boredom or fear by barking. The owner must know how to interpret his behavior to intervene correctly and, not least, take care of his due physical activity to vent his need for movement (especially for medium-large dogs). Take him out at least a couple of times a day and let him play for at least one hour in a row.
In the case of older dogs, a nervous and repetitive bark is nothing more than a symptom of canine senility. It will be advisable to keep it checked by your trusted veterinarian, possibly with some special medication.
One last piece of advice: be consistent. As soon as you decide to undertake this educational path with your dog, make sure not to confuse his ideas with incorrect or inconsistent commands. If you sometimes yell at him when he barks and sometimes you don’t, he won’t know if his barking is a good deed or not.