Dogs bark for so many reasons. It’s necessary to know why before you start.
Dogs bark as a warning, out of fear, over-excitement, anxiety, instigating a reaction from you when they want attention, or even boredom. Barking can quickly become a stimulus in itself and help the dog burn off excess energy. Plus, barking is a natural part of being an dog. It is a major means of communication for them. This is why it is important to understand the why and to let them know when it is and isn’t okay to carry on with their barking. Just remember, you are the leader, and they can’t continue barking if you don’t want them to. Easier said then done I know. It can be difficult. Sometimes we encourage the barking behavior without even knowing it. For instance, when you come home and your dog is so happy to see you, he starts jumping and howling and yes…he’s being so cute! So you give him affection without realizing what you’re actually telling him is its great that he is over-excited and making noise.
Above all, know your dog and demonstrate calmness and confidence. They must respect you in order to obey you. If you correct him/her through frustration, it becomes a punishment. The dog learns little to nothing. If you do it matter-of-fact with a calm energy, it becomes a correction and the dog will understand. Remember, dogs feed off your energy. When something great happens and I get excited, my dog will jump up and down and bark. She doesn’t know why, she is just mirroring me. The same goes with frustration. If you yell at your dog they will be quiet out of fear and confusion, which you don’t want, or they will bark more thinking you are barking too. Sound like a lot? Just take a deep breath. I mean it, every time you are emotional over something Fido did, take a deep breath and read on.
One way to teach a dog to stop barking is by distracting him in some way. It takes their mind off the situation/emotion that is causing them to bark. Another noise like a high frequency sound, an odd sound you make that isn’t pleasing to the ear, a can with coins, slamming a door shut or cabinet. All of these are great distracters. The key is the dog should think that they came because he barked. The sound must be immediate and loud! Your goal isn’t to scare him, but to change his state of mind. Timing is everything. For instance, if you use the can of coins, he sees you pick it up and shake it, he could find it amusing and eventually associate this toy with barking. That is why it is best if it isn’t seen, just heard. If this particular method works with your pet you will eventually make the correctional sound down to a hand motion and an “ah”! It is best to spend 5 minutes, yes ONLY 5 minutes, practicing in a controlled situation every day. Like having someone knock on the door or anything you know that makes him bark. Once you can control the barking inside, then you can take it outside.