Lots of you have asked how to stop your dogs from barking. So here is some advice for ya!
Why is it that some dogs just won’t stop barking? You tell them to stop but they just don’t listen. They just keep barking, and wining, and barking.. and driving you CRAZY!
Dogs use barking as a form of communication. It is also a rewarding behavior for them. They learn as puppies, that making sound effects their environment. Some sounds bring the pack together, others push the pack or other animals away, and they even use sound to warn other creatures and their pack. When other creatures respond to it, it becomes a rewarding behavior. Barking, growls, and whimpers are all sounds dogs use to communicate with eachother.
Ok, I know what sound is used for, now how do I stop it? Well, you need to establish leadership with your dogs. First and foremost, leadership is the most important tool used to solve dog training problems. If you are not the leader, your dog will not listen to you. He/she may ignore your commands because he/she doesn’t see you as the alpha. Once you establish that you are the alpha male/female, you’ll notice that your dog(s) will mind every command you give.
So how do you become the alpha? Actually, becoming the alpha isn’t that hard. Just remember, alphas always eat first, sleep or lay in the most comfortable spots, play with the best toys first, and pretty much get their way all the time. (This is why spoiling your dog is not a good idea). Alphas are treated like kings. Nothing happens with out their say so. Alphas give the rest of the pack affection only when everyone in the pack is on their best behavior. The submissive pack members always go to the alpha, and the alpha never goes to a submissive unless it’s for discipline.
Ok, so now you’re the alpha of your pack. Remember to stay consistent with your rules. Only invite dogs to lay with you on furniture, never let them just hop up when they want. If they do, push them down, make them sit, and then invite them as reward. Now, teach your dog to "Speak." This is a great command, because it has a counter…"Quiet." Once you can command your dog to speak on command, you can then teach him to be quiet on command as well. See Doggy Times II and click on the previous trick of the week link in the category section to learn how to teach "Speak" and "Quiet."
So now you are resting peacfully after a long hard day at work. All of a sudden your dog sees a rabbit out a window and goes nuts. He is barking, whimpering, turning in circles, the works. You have taught him "Quiet" but he refuses to listen. He keeps barking as you give the command. What do you do now? This is where you have to stay consistent as the alpha. Simply put, if your dog doesn’t see you as the alpha, he/she will not listen to you..at all. Oh, and don’t think that establishing yourself as the alpha is a one time thing either, it’s a 24/7 job. Get up from your cozy chair, or bed, and point at your dog and say "SHHT!" (If you’ve ever seen the Dog Whisperer on the National Geographic channel, you know this sound well). Look him straight in the eye while making the noise and even snap your fingers if it helps. The idea is to snap his mind out of the behavior. Distract him. Then praise him for being quiet and paying attention to you.
It is always a better idea to prevent your dog from misbehaving before resulting to any disciplinary methods. Giving your dog evey opportunity to succeed is always best, but not always possible. The truth is that most people get a dog for the family, and then don’t have time for the poor animal. If your dog seems to be barking constantly, take some time to figure out why. Is he bored? Maybe he’s telling you to play with him or take him for a walk. He might be barking at everything that goes by the house because he is not walked enough. He might miss exploring his neighborhood. Especially if the barking is paired with jumping the fence. Remember, dogs are still animals. They have more energy than we do, even the low energy breeds. They need steady exercise on a daily basis. If this energy is allowed to build, it will come out as destructive and/or annoying behavior. Most dogs simply have cabin fever. So take Fido on a walk everyday, give him the attention he needs, and teach him you are the boss. I’m sure if you can find the time in your busy scheduals, you will find that Fido doesn’t need to bark as often, all he wanted was your attention.