Who hasn’t yelled (at least once), “STOP IT!” when their dog just won’t stop barking? We tend to let it slip sometimes when we have heard enough of our furry family member making his presence known at the front door or the back fence. Hermes will bark at every human, animal, or leaf that is in view of the front door, back door or across the field. He’s not picky.
If you have a barker, it wont do you any good to try and stop him with loud commands. however, if you want to try and control the barking, then here is one exercise that might work for you and your pet . . .
As soon as your dog starts barking, calmly, but sternly say “Enough” and then get up and walk towards him with a small treat until the treat is within inches of his nose. Make soothing clicking noises as you do this to get his attention. When you have his attention, don’t give him the treat, but palm it in your hand and say “Good boy” a few times luring him away from the thing he was barking at. When he is away from the situation and stops barking this is when you can give him the treat. You have lured him away by signaling for him to stop (“Enough”), created a situation in which he did stop barking (luring him away with the treat), and then rewarded him for being quiet (giving him the treat). It sounds easy I know, but it’s a little harder than it appears so don’t give up. If you continue in this manner each time your dog barks, it will become familiar to him and you will see progress.
Lure him away with a treat; then when he stops barking, give him the treat.
Start small when you first embark on these training sessions. Don’t start when he’s out of control, barking like mad at the man who’s walking across the field with three dogs all pulling on their leashes. Instead, you want to start when he’s a bit less agitated. If you can foresee a situation ahead of time that will cause your dog to bark, this is best as you can be ready to say "Enough" before your dog is past the point of no return. You can also have a friend walk by or even knock at the door while you lure your dog away with a treat. You might have to go all the way up to your dog and hold the treat right smack in his face to get his attention, but that’s ok. The main thing is that you have to set up your routine and stick to it . . . He barks; you say “Enough” and lure him with a treat. After he’s quiet for a few seconds (make this time longer as you progress) give him the treat. Eventually, when your dog hears you say “Enough” he will coming trotting up to you on his own to get the treat.
It is important to remember that to get a dog to stop barking is not as easy as teaching him to sit or stay. It’s much harder for a dog to stop doing something that is natural for him. Barking for a dog is linked to emotion and physiological arousal just as laughing, squealing and yelling is for kids. Who doesn’t remember a time in their childhood when a parent or teacher said to “Stop” and there was just no stopping the giggles that escaped no matter how hard you pressed your hand over your mouth? Now, picture your dog with his paw over his muzzle. Yep, makes a little more sense now doesn’t it? :O)
[A lot of the dog behavior wisdom that you might find on this blog, I credit to books I’ve read by Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D. The exercise I've just described is from one of her books entitled, The Other End of the Leash. Hermes and I will work on this and hopefully we will come to an understanding . . . I hope.]