QUESTION:

“We took your puppy class about 6 months ago and really enjoyed it. We’re wondering if you’re able to help us on how to better control his constant barking. He is OUT OF CONTROL and barks at anyone and any car that comes down the driveway. We give the command “ENOUGH” and he makes eye contact and hears us but continues to bark. It’s not only ANNOYING for our neighbors/landlord but he’s woken up our baby a few times which is extremely frustrating! I just had a baby and I’m home with her all day while my husband is at work. If I’m feeding her I can’t go out there every 10 minutes to try to get him to stop barking. I will give him the command through a window or screen door but he doesn’t listen. We have since tried a remote collar, vibrating collar, citronella collar and an electric collar…all don’t phase him and he will continue to bark through them. I’m left with keeping all the windows and front door closed because I don’t want his barking to disturb our baby girl. Even when my husband gets home at the end of the day and works in the front yard he has a hard time getting the dog to stop his barking after the command. We have tried to praise him if he stops barking after the command but it’s extremely short lived and will go right back to barking. I was thinking of one of those high frequency machines/collars next but I have our other dog in the yard as well and I wouldn’t want it correcting him if he’s being quiet! Honestly, I’m at a complete loss. Being a new mom definitely has its challenges but adding the constant reactive barking to the mix has me extremely frustrated and DEFEATED. PLEASE, any help or suggestions from you would be appreciated! Please let me know what you think and what your availability is, along with your price.” 

ANSWER: 

I’m sure that some of you clicked on this article hoping for a quick and easy, soundbite answer for how to stop your dog from barking. I can’t quite give a tweet size answer but I’ll start with a fairly short answer and then, for those who really want to learn about dog training, I’ll take a deeper dive. Fair enough? Ok, let go: 

The Short Answer:

  1. Bring the dog inside: The dog is being tied up outside. He is bored and lonely and in view of the road and all the tempting things to bark at. Bringing the dog inside will reduce the barking significantly. He may still bark at sounds or to seek attention but I’ll bet the barking will go down by 50%. Keep reading to deal with the other 50%.  
  2. Take the dog for a walk: The dog needs to get out for a walk every day. Put the baby in the stroller and walk the dog every day. If that’s not doable, go out in the yard and throw the ball or whatever you can do to drain some energy and relieve boredom. Hiring a dog walker can be a great help for those who don’t have time to walk. Feeding all meals from a stuffed Kong may help drain some energy and alleviate boredom as well. Exercise alone will not stop the barking but it is a critical puzzle piece. 
  3. Train the dog: The dog in our question went to our puppy class, which is fantastic, but it’s only a puppy class and the verbal control needed to stop barking when the dog is off-leash and worked up is considered advanced obedience. That being said, the answers to avoiding most behavior problems are taught in our puppy class. The problem is that most people don’t realize it and, therefore, don’t apply themselves 100%. The average student will retain less than 20% of what is taught in class and they will forget half of that once the class is over. Hence, most people need continuing education. They need to take a few private lessons or they need to take the intermediate and advanced obedience classes in order to have a decent level of dog training success. 

Ok, that’s the short version. Feel free to read it again, all the answers to your barking problem are probably in there. For those who want more, let’s take a deeper dive into this thing.  

Everything You Need To Know You Learned In Puppy Class. 

If you were to ask the average puppy class graduate what they learned they would probably give a very short answer that goes something like, “Sit and lay down. He knows those pretty well, if I have a treat. At home he does it great!” I can’t speak for all puppy classes but I can say for sure that we teach a heck of a lot more than that. Not only do we teach several more basic commands than just sit and down, we teach basic, foundational principals. The principals are even more important than the commands but the combination of both is why I believe it’s fair to say that everything you need to know you learned in puppy class. Let’s take a deeper look into this, shall we?

In puppy class we learned the “Leave It” command. We taught the pups to “Leave It” by walking past bits of food on the ground as a primer but we also discussed the importance of practicing this command on random things when out for a walk, when on the long line and the fact that it can ultimately be used for barking, lunging, chasing, etc. How many problems would be solved if you had a dog that was actually trained well enough to listen when you told them to leave it?

We learned that “a command is a commitment” which means you never give an unenforceable command. You must follow through with action and the CPR (Command, Praise, Release) teaching model. Yelling out the window to a dog that isn’t trained to a super high level of off-leash obedience is giving an unforceable command.

We learned the “only say it once” and “don’t name it ‘till you love it” rules. This means we teach first, then talk. We don’t use words until we know that those words will be followed by the behavior we want those words to mean. In the case of “Leave It” we would need to have the ability to interrupt the barking before giving the command. The interruption, or consequence, will be associated with the word and, with practice and consistency, you will have verbal control. Repeating the command “Leave It” or “Enough” or “Quiet” or anything that comes out of your mouth while the dog continues to bark becomes meaningless or, even worse, comes across as “cheerleading” for more barking. You might as well whip out your pom-poms and chant, “Be, aggressive, be, be, aggressive! Yaaaaay!”

We learned that you should practice your commands with low levels of distraction, and gradually raise the difficulty by practicing while out on walks, at the park, in a group class, etc. The dog being out in the yard, off-leash, with a view of the road and filled with pent up energy is dropping the dog right into a super high level of distraction. 

We learned the importance of exercise, daily walks and socialization. A dog spending most of his life in the yard is not getting his needs met. This is pretty much a guaranteed way to create behavior issues. 

So there you have it, you already learned all the lessons you need. However, when I say we “learned” all of those important lessons in puppy class, I mean those things were taught. They were demonstrated and discussed. Whether everyone was watching, listening and practicing is another story. Honestly, if someone were to really give it 100%, if they were to show up every week, practice every day, watch every recommended video and read every recommended article they would not only know enough to control their dog’s barking, they would know enough to become a professional dog trainer! 

Using a Shock Collar to Stop the Dog From Barking? 

The question at the top of this article tells the story of multiple failed attempts at using various types of remote controlled collars. 

“We have since tried a remote collar, vibrating collar, citronella collar and an electric collar…all don’t phase him and he will continue to bark through them.”

I understand the frustration and desperation, seriously, I get it. You are not alone in wanting a “quick fix” for barking but is “trying” a bunch of pain inducing tools without learning anything about them really a good idea? Of course not. You could literally be torturing your dog and still not stop the barking by using these devices carelessly or incorrectly. Or, you could stop the barking but create other behavioral or psychological problems. 

All that being said, I offer private training, as well as group classes, on the  proper use of E-collars. It can be a very effective tool WHEN USED WITH CARE AND CAUTION but it can also be a very dangerous tool that causes more harm than good. The E-collar is a very powerful and advanced tool and it is very easy to make mistakes. In fact, I have yet to see a client who used one before seeing me who had not already made multiple E-collar mistakes. 

To get a foundational idea of my E-collar philosophy click here: Chad’s E-collar on Vimeo

Conclusion

I could go on and on about dog training and behavior and analyzing this question to death but I don’t want to bore you. At the end of the day, this is not a complicated problem. Dogs are like life, you get out of them what you put into them. There is plenty of hope, if you are willing to put in a little work. Before trying a bunch of dangerous quick-fix tools, try going back to the basics that we learned in puppy class. If you have never taken an obedience class, perhaps that should be on your to-do list.

Good luck and happy training!

-Chad Culp, Certified Dog Trainer, Canine Behavior Consultant and Owner of Thriving Canine.

© Thriving Canine 2022

Check out www.ThrivingCanine.com for more free articles, videos and sign up for the weekly newsletter.

Subscribe to Thriving Canine YouTube Channel

Apply for membership of the THRIVING CANINE UNIVERSITY Facebook group. (please read the rules before joining)

Related Topics

How To Stop Dogs From Barking

Should I Teach “Speak” To Eliminate Barking?

Does Your Dog Need A Window With A View? 

E-collar: History, Evolution and Controversy 

E-collar Course