A dogs barking is no different than us speaking. Dogs rely on barking to communicate play or excitement, loneliness (Including Separation anxiety), nervousness, boredom, anger and even to alert the pack of danger.
Problem is when we are trying to get work done, rest or sleep, watch TV, speak on the phone or just unwind incessant barking can take a toll on our nerves. I guess it can be compared to someone yelling at us continuously.
So we want our dogs to bark when someone unknown is approaching our homes but we do not want them to bark when someone is walking by outside. Our messaging to them can be kind of confusing.
Many pet parents yell using the word NO, which can also be kind of confusing especially when they use the word NO for counter surfing, humping, chewing on household objects, having an accident in the house. You get the picture…
Here are 4 products and 1 behavior modification technique I personally tested to STOP nuisance barking
1. Train your dog to stop barking with reward-based training. Get one delicious treat that no dog can resist like Bison Crunchy Liver Chips and reserve these as a special treat solely for training. When your dog starts to bark waive the liver in their face and say SHUSSH or, NO BARK. When they accept the treat say GOOD SHUSSH or, GOOD NO BARK in a happy voice. Repeat as necessary and eventually your dog will associate SHUSSH or NO BARK with silence. NOTE-Dogs cannot bark and eat at the same time.
2. For nervous dogs when treat based rewards are not cutting it consider a Citronella Bark Collar which has been proven in studies to be up to 85.7% effective. Although it’s not reward based its considered Humane. When a dog wears this collar a prong (sensor) picks up vibration on the throat and blasts some citronella in their face when they start barking. I have tested multiple Citronella Bark Collars and my findings are the following…Smart or stubborn dogs will bark right through it and some learn how to empty the cannister by repeated barking. In rare cases it appears that some dogs like the taste. Another finding which may have been fixed by now is that occasionally the citronella would clog up so the spray would not trigger. There is also the matter of whether your fond of the smell of citronella? At one time you could purchase a Citronella Bark Collar and they had refills that contained air which could be another option. My suggestion, read the reviews online first and if you decide to purchase it find a retailer that offers a money back guarantee after use.
3. Ultrasonic Devices emit a sound that we cannot hear but some dogs can and, results are very mixed. The Bark Genie from First Alert comes in a handheld or desktop unit. For the handheld it appears to be more effective on small or less stubborn dogs. I tested it on a couple of Pomeranians and they always stopped barking but my tests on larger dogs had less desirable results unless they were timid dogs. I used it along with the training command SHUSSH. Another interesting point is that some dogs that were afraid of the Bark Genie Handheld would stop barking upon seeing it even without triggering the ultrasonic sound. For an additional perspective the product has 3.5/5 stars (I typically look for 4 stars and above) but at less than $20 on Amazon it’s worth a shot especially if there is a money back guarantee. Although it’s not positive reinforcement it is less invasive then other techniques.
4. The “Doggie Don’t” handheld is an ingenious gadget. Basically it’s the sound of a loud stun gun (that crackling sound) but without any shock. This does not come in physical contact with your dog. Again, this is not positive reinforcement but a lot more gentle then the next option. This device might be a bit scary and the sound jarring for small timid dogs which I discovered during my testing. I found it to be more effective than the Ultrasonic devices in stopping nuisance barking.
5. They call them Training, Electric Stimulus or Shock Collars and they are some of the bestselling bark control devices not without controversy because the dog receives a shock type correction on the neck if they bark. Many years ago my geologist friend Paul and I decided to test it out on our own necks and had the correction level at 2 out of 10 and we managed to get it to shock us and at level 2 it was quite jolting. Paul's dog Mickey was a barking beagle and against my advice Paul put the collar on Mickey and when we walked out the door Mickey barked once and yelped and never barked again when Paul left. Mickey was no worse for wear. At the time Paul and his wife were living in a hotel and was going to get evicted if Mickey would continually bark. NOTE-The current models have multiple settings for sound, vibration or shock.
Honorable mention goes to the Pet Corrector below which is a handheld device when pressed emits compressed air and the sound mimics a snake. This works really well for some dogs and is cost effective enough that you can throw it away if it does not work for your dog. This is not Reward based training but in my opinion humane as it only emits a sound. To balance it out and create an even more humane and effective solution use a command like SHUSSH or NO BARK when delivering the sound and offer a treat when they comply and don’t forget to praise them.
One Exception-If you have an older dog with senility and/or cognitive issues speak to your veterinarian about cognitive meds. Training will probably not work and anti-bark devices might scare your best friend
TIP- Some dogs express themselves quite a bit because they are not getting enough exercise. If your dogs healthy and mobile try tiring them out by chasing a ball or a visit with a friends dog and see if the barking diminishes.
Yelling will either excite you dog more and increase barking or make them fearful.
Hittingwill create fear and could lead to additional undesirable behavior. In Dog language getting hit is not part of their vocabulary.
Debarking (Devocalization) is a surgery to eliminate a dogs bark (it actually softens a dogs bark) by removing tissue around the vocal cords. This procedure has gone way out of favor with veterinarians and many will no longer perform it.
Holding their mouth will probably scare your dog and it is not an action that a dog will relate to stop barking
If all else fails reach out to a professional dog trainer. An outsider can be more effective as they are less sensitive to hurting your dogs feelings.