On our block you can head out in the morning and hear the lambs baaing, the cats meowing, the cows mooing, the chickens clucking - and the dogs barking to outdo them all, which alas pretty much ruins the peacefulness. Excessive barking is an issue we deal with a lot as dog owners, and now that we are heading for summer and the dogs are spending more time outside and people are enjoying their decks, just how do you stop them barking at all the new sights and sounds?
When your dog goes bolting off to the fence to bark at someone who dared walk past, what did you do? Did you go down and tell the dog off, did you start barking too, did you walk inside and say it would be fine? All of these are great options but on their own they don't always work that well. I want you to enjoy a quiet and peaceful dinner without your neighbours yelling at you over the fence. So what can we do?
First, have you taught your dog not to go out the fence or the gate even if left open? Many people make the mistake of assuming that because the fence and gate are there, the dogs know that beyond it is not its property - but it doesn't. A dog will guard as far as it can see and hear and thus needs to be taught boundaries. Once it knows that it is not allowed out of a gate even if it's opened (start on a long line or something first), they resist a little more the urge to bark when someone walks past the property.
Next step is to teach the dog what happens when it barks. I recommend as soon as it barks saying "quiet", and then if it barks again grab it just by the collar and put it in a laundry or garage for a couple of minutes, then let it back out.
You can practise this by having a friend around for dinner and getting them first to walk up and down the fenceline while you practise the putting away and telling the dog quiet.
What starts to happen is the dog realises that if it barks when it is not meant to, it will be put away - therefore creating a cause and effect situation. Your dog will still bark when it is meant to, such as when someone knocks on the front door or enters the gate, but it will be more relaxing for the dog because it doesn't have to worry about anything.
Give it a go, what have you got to lose?
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