Barking is normal behaviour from a dog, particularly a young puppy. You will not be able to stop the barking, howling and whining completely, as every animal will naturally make some noise, but you can train your dog to bark less.
Dogs who are left alone for most of the day are likely to start barking as an outlet for their excess energy. As nobody is there to stop them from barking, it soon develops into a habit, and then they continue because it is enjoyable.
When you are at home, it is important to spend time with your dog. Play and exercise together, go out for walks and spend time on training. This will give your dog an opportunity to investigate all the different smells and sounds that he or she is aware of while trapped in your garden. Let your dog play with other dogs – this will result in a well-exercised, happy and tired dog who will then sleep peacefully.
Barking is often due to the dog feeling lonely, bored or frightened. By spending time together when you are at home, your dog will be more likely to sleep while you are out.
While you are retraining your dog not to bark, keep them in a place where they will create the least disturbance when you have to go out. You may find that a room at the back of the house is best, or leaving music playing can help to hide noises that would set off barking.
Training your dog to stop barking
You need to teach your dog what the rules are when it comes to barking. As always, positive reinforcement is the most effective way of training your dog. Use the words “stop barking” as a command, and then use a treat when he or she does stop. After three seconds of silence, allow your dog to eat the treat. Next time, increase the length to five seconds, then ten. By the time you reach a minute or two of silence, your dog will have forgotten why they had the urge to bark in the first place.
If your dog makes a mistake during the training, your next command should be louder, as this will be enough to shock most dogs into silence. If this happens to result in more excitement and therefore more barking, you need to sound more stern. Sometimes, splashing water in the face will get a dog to stop barking.
Whichever method you have used, reward your dog when the barking stops.
After enough repetitions, you will no longer need to use the treats as an encouragement, though praise is always advisable.
You may not realise this, but some of your dog’s barking habits could have developed from unintentional training on your part. Sometimes, barking will elicit a response from you, so your dog will have learned that the noise means attention. You will need to retrain your dog by using praise for not barking.