Do you tell your dog to “be quiet” often?
How many times have you told your dog to “quiet down,” “knock it off,” or “shut up!” only to hear continual barking. Your dog just won’t stop barking when you give them the cue “be quiet.”
Dogs bark for a number of different reasons. Some dogs bark to alert that there’s an “intruder” outside while others bark for attention. Some dogs bark to let other dogs know they want to play while other dogs bark to tell oncoming dogs to “back off.” Dogs also bark when they guard or protect their home, their owner or their toys.
Many dogs bark because they’ve been accidentally rewarded for their barking. I know what you’re thinking… “No way, I would never reward my dog for barking unless someone was breaking into the house.”
What I mean is that somehow your dog’s barking got them what they wanted. Their barking made someone go away or got someone to toss their ball.
A dog that barks at people or cars passing by has learned that their barking is effective in getting people to leave their property. What your dog doesn’t know or understand is that people passing by did not leave because your dog barked. The people left because they were already headed somewhere else that just happened to pass by your house.
This concept is similar to my “mailman theory.” The mailman comes by your house every day at the same time. Your dog barks at the mailman and learns that their continual barking makes the mailman leave. Each day your dog gets reinforcement for their great effort at keeping the “intruder” away. Your dog doesn’t understand that the mailman went to the next house because that’s part of their route and not because your dog’s barking scared them away.
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Do not allow your dog to bark at strangers, cars or any delivery service passing by outside. Keep your dog away from the windows or doors. Close the blinds or curtains on the windows that your dog frequently stares out and barks at. You may have to put your dog in a crate so they don’t find alternate doors or windows to run to and bark at.
Sometimes you have to take away the opportunity for your dog to bark, and the only way you can do that is to either remove your dog from the area where they can look out the window and bark or close the curtains or blinds so your dog can’t see outside any longer.
Keep in mind a dog that doesn’t get enough mental and physical exercise throughout the day will want to bark even more. They are trying to find outlets to release all their pent-up energy.
For more information on exercising your dog, check out this three-part series with 15 different games and exercises you can do with your dog indoors.
Whatever you do, don’t yell at your dog to “be quiet” while they are barking. In the next section, you’ll learn why that won’t work and what to do to get your dog to stop barking on cue.