We’ve all encountered dogs like these: dogs that just will not, ever, sit down and be quiet. If you’re eating, they are barking. If you’re sleeping, they are barking. It does not matter if someone is outside the door, if there is another dog walking past the window, or if the mailman just dropped off a package at the end of your driveway. Your dog is barking through it all. It can be absolutely, mind-bogglingly frustrating for you and for any guests who may last more than an hour in your house. Do not worry, you are not alone. There are options.
First, you can try ignoring the behavior. The worst thing you can do for a dog stuck in the barking loop is to reward the behavior. If he barks and you immediately fill a Kon with peanut butter to get him to quiet down, he will associate barking with getting peanut butter. Obviously, a reward like that will cause your dog to bark more and more. Instead, you just have to grind it out. Don’t feed your dog when they bark unnecessarily. Don’t pet your dog. Don’t even look at your dog. Any of those things will be a reward for their behavior. If you are sleeping and they are barking, do not get out of bed. Just keep pretend sleeping so they don’t see any reaction to their noise. As soon as you get up, they have won. You need to eliminate all of the positives that can possibly come from their barking.
If simply eliminating the positives is not doing the trick, it may be time to integrate a few small negatives into your reaction to non-stop barking fits. The easiest one is to find a squirt bottle, or something you might use to “dust” plants with water. Fill the bottle with water and keep it handy throughout the day. When your dog speaks up without cause, give them a light spray to the face. It is absolutely harmless but will quickly become an annoyance they associate as a negative occurrence when they bark. The squirt bottle is great for other behaviors as well, such as chewing and scratching at personal belongings. It may save a shoe just as easily as it can save an ear drum. Please don’t torture your dog with countless sprays to the face, but definitely feel free to use this tactic whenever your dog is going down the wrong barking train.
There are other options to curtail dog barking, such as different collars or training mechanisms. If eliminating positive reinforcement and even supplying some negative reactions does not seem to be doing the trick for your pup, it may be time to look into those. Just think about what is right for your dog, and consult your veterinarian, before making a large purchase. Not everything on the market is safe or comfortable for every pet. It is always important to go with your gut and protect your best friend, even if they like to constantly sing without having a good voice. It’s worth it.