There is nothing more annoying than a dog that continually barks in the garden. If you live in a city or town, and your pet repeatedly barks, you will be annoying your neighbours, and could potentially find yourself in a legal dispute, under the Noise Nuisance legislation. If you live in the depths of the countryside, then it will only be annoying to you, but is still an unhealthy habit. However, don't despair, as you can train your dog not to bark in the garden, and help make your life more peaceful.
Understanding Why Dogs Bark
The first step to training a dog not to bark in the garden is understanding why they bark in the first place. Barking occurs for a variety of reasons; to warn, to guard, to communicate, and to protect. A dog barking a few times is natural dog behaviour, it is when it becomes continuous or routine that it becomes problematic. Canine companions can bark at noises in surrounding gardens because they are unsure or protective. Dogs can bark at birds or cats on fences. Dogs that don't receive enough exercise or mental stimulation can bark out of boredom. Do you let your dogs outside unsupervised? Do you leave them in the garden for extended periods? Do they always bark at the same triggers? Or at the same time? Sometimes barking can become habitual, part of their routine. Once you can identify why your dog is barking, you will be better equipped to train them not to.
Techniques to Stop a Dog Barking
Different techniques can be used to teach a dog to stop barking. Take some time to work out what triggers your dog's barking, and which training technique, or combination of techniques, will work best for him.
- Positive Reinforcement – this works by giving praise when he is quiet so that we are rewarding the good behaviour, rather than responding to the bad behaviour. The problem with shouting when he is barking is that as far as the dog is concerned, you are responding to the barking. When you praise his quiet moments, he will realise that the response is associated with the quiet, not the barking. Go out in the garden, praise him when he is quiet. As with all training methods, repetition is key.
- Calm Verbal Cues – as discussed above, don't shout at your dog when he is barking. A firm “no” can be beneficial, but only if their barking is not too frenzied, and they are listening to you.
- Teach “Speak” and “Quiet” Commands – once you make sound a command, it ceases to be “naughty” behaviour and becomes simply another command. If you teach your dog to “speak” and “quiet” then you will be able to control the volume!
- Identify Triggers and Remove Stimuli – pay attention to what triggers your dog. If next door always lets their yappy dog out at 10 pm, and your dog reacts, why not just put your dog out at a different time? Sometimes working around a problem is a great solution.
- Provide Mental and Physical Stimulation – does your dog get enough exercise and engagement? Dogs are intelligent, energetic creatures that need attention and exercise every day. A dog that is left in a garden to entertain itself can swiftly turn to barking as a form of entertainment. A well-exercised dog will be more likely to curl up and go to sleep, than bark.
Environmental Management Strategies
Whilst you can train your dog to stop barking in the garden, it is also sensible to reduce any triggers where possible. If your fencing has gaps where your dog can see other animals next door, then block these. If there are times of day when your dog reacts to noise, then consider how to deal with these. Perhaps you live next door to a school, and the noise at break times triggers your dog. Why not, just keep him inside during these times? Reducing the amount of triggers that the dog is exposed to, will help to reduce the barking frequency, and help with your training.
Addressing Separation Anxiety and Loneliness
Separation anxiety can be problematic for some dogs. However, there are ways to help. Puppies need to be taught that people return, so consistently leaving them for short periods of time can help to teach them to be left. For puppies or adult dogs that struggle with this, practice going out of the house every hour, for five minutes. As with all training, repetition will help. If leaving your dog for longer periods, make sure they are well-exercised, and safe when leaving them. A tired dog is more likely to sleep and less likely to become distressed.
Seeking Professional Help
If you are struggling with your dog barking in the garden or yard, then it may be worth seeking professional help. As a responsible dog owner, you are legally obligated to keep the noise to a minimum. Whilst your dog will bark occasionally, and this is acceptable behaviour, when it becomes constant, it needs to be dealt with. A professional should be able to work with you and your dog to help to reduce the barking in the garden. Just remember, that the professional won't “fix” your dog, they will work with you to give you the tools to continue training your dog. Training is an ongoing process, not a one-off.
Start Training Your Dog Today
The sooner you start training your dog not to bark in the garden, the better. The more established the habit of barking is, the longer it will take to teach a dog to stop. If you have a puppy, make sure you praise the quiet moments, so that the habit is less likely to develop. Excessive barking is a noise nuisance and does have legal implications, so beware of any possible repercussions. Take control of your dog's barking today, and get ready to enjoy a quiet life.
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