Stop a Barking Dog with Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is an effective way to train dogs, especially when they are not behaving correctly. Over time, dogs may develop irritating habits like constant barking. They may even bark unprovoked when they don't have any real reason to bark.

Barking and other disorderly behaviors can create unnecessary stress in the home. Thankfully, this poor behavior doesn't have to be permanent. Positive reinforcement may offer the best results when it comes to training dogs. It focuses on what a dog does right rather than what it does wrong. However, can it be used to train your dog to stop barking? First, let's explore the reasons why dogs bark.

What Makes Dogs Bark?

Dogs bark for several reasons. This includes talking to other dogs, trying to get an owner's attention, or verbally marking their territory.

As some dog owners know, even the simple ring of a doorbell or voices from neighbors walking down the street can elicit a bark. Smells, sounds, and environmental changes may cause barking as well.

The barking will often continue due to canine anxiety, fear, or boredom. Some dogs may bark because they have separation anxiety. Other dogs may bark during play or when interacting with other dogs. Even if the dog isn't aggressive during play, the dog might bark at canine other friends.

Unfortunately, barking can quickly get out of hand and become excessive. The dog may bark for several minutes, even when there aren't any apparent stimuli causing the dog to bark. Treating excessive barking or occasional barking is possible, even with older dogs.

Using Positive Reinforcement for Dog Bark Training

Training a dog to act well isn't an instant process. You should train your dog consistently and without malice, even if the process involves aversion training like a training collar. Let's use excessive barking as an example of positive reinforcement training.

A dog barking excessively can be highly disruptive and annoying. It can be easy to yell at a dog to be quiet in a moment of frustration. However, remember that shouting back at a dog while barking probably won't make the dog stop. The dog may respond to a human yelling with more barking because they think their owner has joined in.

A method for preventing excessive barking in dogs is to teach them to understand the word "quiet" and reward them when they stop barking after hearing it. The dog should get a treat after controlling barking, even if the pause is to take a breath.

Eventually, the dog should connect being quiet with the word "quiet" and the treat that comes afterward. Particularly stubborn dogs might benefit from some lifestyle changes. For example, taking a dog exercising every day may make the dog too tired to bark overnight.

Aversion Training When Positive Reinforcement Falls Short

While positive reinforcement techniques are appealing, they may not work on every dog. Dog owners of unruly and stubborn pets may consider using aversive dog training techniques. Some aversive dog training methods include shaking cans filled with coins and dog bark collars. Do bark control collars work, or are they just a mean way to handle a dog's barking?

Some training collars deliver an unpleasant stimulus to the dog when the collar detects vibration in the vocal cords. Sometimes a collar emits a loud noise or an ultrasonic noise. Other collars spray a citronella mist or a small electric shock, which the dog may eventually connect with barking.

Choosing Positive Reinforcement or Aversion Training

Ultimately, it may take some experimentation to discover what type of training a dog will respond to, whether it's treats and positive reinforcement or a training collar. Whatever method the owner chooses, patience is crucial. Most dogs take some time to learn new behaviors. It is also critical to understand why a dog barks.

 Sometimes, it's the simple removal of a specific stimulus that calms the dog and helps eliminate the bad behavior. In other circumstances, consistent training with aversion therapy or positive reinforcement is necessary. Most methods require time and patience, so it's helpful to understand that a dog probably won't respond immediately but will eventually cease bad behavior with consistent training.