If you’ve bought a new puppy and don’t find it barking loudly, excitedly and often at entirely inappropriate moments, you can count yourself lucky. Most breeds are overly excitable by nature, and there is no better way to express that excitement than by yapping away. You might find it cute at first, but it can soon get annoying and require addressing. Indeed, even if you still find it charming today, you might regret not addressing it sooner as your dog grows up. They are far more impressionable at this young age, so if you can get them out of the habit of shouting at every little thing; you’ll enjoy a far more peaceful existence 10 years from now.
As with any aspect of puppy training, it will require some work and control on your part, but it is not difficult. Check out the tips below to see how to react when they keep on barking.
1. Stay Consistent in the Rules
Among the most essential parts of puppy training is consistency. If you always respond the same way to a particular action, they’ll come to associate this response with their own behaviour. If you sometimes join in the excitement of a barking session but tell them off at others, they won’t get a feel for whether what they’re doing is right or wrong. Furthermore, you need to ensure other people that see the dog respond in the same manner too, so as to reinforce your efforts.
2. Address any Underlying Issues
We have associated frequent barking with excitement so far, but this is not always the case. Puppies don’t have many ways to express themselves, so their barking could indicate that they’re frightened or hurt. Make sure that your puppy is free of any issues before attempting to train them out of barking as you’d still want them to let you know if something is wrong in future.
3. Don’t become a Disciplinarian
You want to teach your puppy right from wrong, but you need to remember that they are still learning and harsh punishments will do more harm than good. In many cases, the best option is to ignore the puppy when they do something wrong rather than shout or directly punish, and then go all out on the praise and fuss when they do something well.
4. Never Bark Back
It can be tempting to mimic your puppy as part of training, but this is the last thing you should do. There is a good chance they will come to think of their barking efforts as a game or competition, and most puppies have a surprisingly long competitive streak in them. By the same token, this is another good reason to avoid shouting, as there’s a chance that your puppy might mistake your shouts for barking back.
5. Break any Barking Habits
There may be things that often happen that become associated with barking. It might be when you get home from work, dinner time or when someone comes to the door. It is easy for a habit to form, but if you want to get your dog out of that habit, you need to address it as early as possible. If those habits are based on the actions of others, see if you can get them to reward the dog for being quiet as part of your positive reinforcement.
6. Keep them Entertained
Puppies bark for attention in much the same way as babies cry, and this can often be down to them simply having nothing better to do. While it does require some effort on your part, if you can take time out of your day to play with them, or even bring them some new toys to keep them occupied, then they will be too busy to consider barking and will learn to remain quiet while they do something else.
7. Protect your Puppy from Unusual Sounds
As we’ve already mentioned, your pup’s bark can be in response to being frightened or hearing something unusual. If you’ve experienced a thunderstorm since you’ve had your dog, you’ll be well aware of how they can react to these strange sounds. It can be tempting to let them experience it to get used to it, but this often works better when they’re older and more experienced. While they’re young, you might experience better results by drowning out unusual noises with something familiar, such as the radio or television.
8. Go to the Next Level with Simulation
If you’re having trouble with cutting down on barking, consider recording some of the sounds that set your dog off so you can work on them directly. Most puppies will not be able to tell the difference between a recording and the real thing. Whereas that real thing perhaps occurs once a day or even less often, you can use recordings to get your dog familiar with the events and repeat them. As they start to behave, you can give out praise as usual and reinforce what you consider as being good behaviour.
9. Wear your Dog Out
It is a lot harder to bark when you’re tired and those that adopt an active routine in the early days often find their dog being better behaved – even if it’s just because the pup is too tired to play up. You’ve hopefully already found a walking routine that suits you both, and that might be good enough. If not, spend time playing with the dog – with them doing all the work if you prefer – or even consider classes and agility training as further forms of exercise.
10. Give your Puppy a Safe Space
One final cause of excessive barking is linked to your dog’s territorial nature. It underpins them barking at people coming to the door and similar situations. If you make it clear that the whole house is not their territory, but they have an area that is, they will often respond well.