One of the most common reasons pet owners reach out is to get their dog to stop barking. Whether it’s stopping barking at other dogs, house guests, or squirrels out the window, what most owners don’t realize is that stopping barking should actually not be the end goal. Huh? Barking is a SYMPTOM, not usually the true underlying problem. So the first thing I ask is: well, when do you notice your dog barking? If possible I prefer to solve the underlying issue rather than chasing symptoms.
Teaching a “Quiet” command is pretty easy, especially if you have a barky dog. But if you can’t get your dog to stop barking at triggers in the first place, the usefulness of that command is somewhat limited. Dogs usually bark out of overarousal/frustration. It’s as if they are saying, “Hey! Let’s do something fun! Stop being boring!” or “I REALLY WANT TO CHASE THAT SQUIRREL BUT I CAN’T!!” They are reacting before thinking. Everyone, people included, reacts before thinking sometimes but it should not be the default.
Would you believe each one of these 3 dogs came to FluentDog Training because they would not stop barking at people and/or dogs? Now, as you can see, they are not barking and they are truly relaxed around each other. My “prescription” or behavior modification plan for each of these three barky dogs was a little different for each one.
The first time I met Ollie the doodle he would not stop barking for nearly the entire lesson. His owners and I had to shout to communicate! He barks when he’s happy, kind of a “Woohoo! Let’s get this party started!” His real issue is that he did not know how to calm down when he got excited. He cranked the volume to 11 and would party on. However, now his owners can get him to calm down when they tell him to. And that’s not just about telling the dog a sit or a down command–it’s about teaching the dog to relax and be calm in a sit or a down.
Socks was reactive to life in general. His skin reacted to the slightest allergen, his stomach reacted to various ingredients and of course he lunged, shrieked and barked at anyone and anything he saw on walks. So step #1 for Socks was to get him physically healthy. If you don’t feel well, you won’t act very well either. NThen we went on to the typical program of teaching him how to walk nicely on a leash amid various distractions. He is still a work in progress but as you can see he is able to relax around other dogs without barking at them now.
Layla’s issue was simply that she is a working breed, and if you don’t give a working dog a job, she will invent her own! Layla had decided her job was to keep other dogs away from her family by barking aggressively. Very typical for a German Shepherd, but once she learned that her job was to heel nicely on walks, the barking went away. She was just waiting for someone to lead her, rather than feeling like she had to make the decisions. Now she is thriving thanks to clear communication and expectations.
The common factor of all three dogs is that they had NO chill. They didn’t know how to just “be”. So that’s why we teach every single dog at FluentDog how to RELAX! Once you find the underlying issue, the way to stop barking becomes apparent.
We are experts in stopping barking because we know how to read dogs well. So if you have a barky dog, reach out to FluentDog today!