The 6 Reasons Punishment Can’t Stop Dog Barking
The 6 Reasons Punishment Can’t Stop Dog Barking
Have you ever noticed that correcting, chastising, even physically punishing your dog to try to stop the barking isn’t working?
Ever wondered why that is?
Here is a list to help you understand from your dog’s point of view.
1. It is his instinct
Barking is canine instinct.
Imagine going your whole life without speaking, or communicating with those around you.
I have always thought of the sacrifice monks must undergo to take a vow of silence.
I, personally, could never go more than a day or two without speaking to someone or something.
Actually, I think a day of silence would be difficult.
Yet, somehow, we expect our dogs to be silent.
Dogs communicate with each other by barking.
This is how they warn other dogs or members of their pack that something dangerous may be afoot.
This is how wild dogs and wild dog packs maintain on survival.
Your dog may be a pet and part of your “human” pack, but he is still a dog, and he still has canine instincts and need for communication.
Total silence is difficult if not impossible for some dogs.
Instead, we can teach him WHEN he can use his vocalizations with this and what is appropriate to communicate.
2. He is rewarded by other dogs in the neighborhood
Remember how I discussed earlier how dogs communicate with each other by barking?
It is true.
If you leave your dog outside for extended periods of time, he is likely to find other outside dogs to communicate with for entertainment purposes.
Ever heard stories of people in prison communicating with each other but never truly being able to interact personally? They get to know each other, share stories, and even warn of coming guards.
Dogs create similar relationships with dogs in the neighborhood. You can often hear them vocalizing amongst themselves and carrying on “conversations” if you will.
3. You bark with him
Often times when we constantly yell at our dogs, they think we are chiming in or barking “with them”.
Someone walks past your window and your dog begins to bark.
You, as a human, know there is no real threat, so you become increasingly irritated.
I mean, why would he bark at the 92 year old neighbor getting her morning paper?
So you yell back at him.
“Shut Up!!!” “Be Quiet!!!!” “No Bark!!!”
Let us remember, he does not speak English and therefore doesn’t understand the meaning of your words.
He only FEELS YOUR FRUSTRATION
And HEARS YOU YELLING
Both sound exactly like what he is doing.
Take a step back… do you sound like you are “barking with him”?
In order for dogs to understand that being calm is the way to handle a situation, you must in fact, lead by example and be calm!
Be calm, be quiet and teach your dog to understand and respect your “quiet” command.
4. You are painfully inconsistent
Most often when I talk to people who are infuriated with their dogs’ barking, I find that they are painfully inconsistent in their teaching or “correcting”.
You may or may not chase your dog down to teach him to be quiet during the day.
Quite frankly, a lot of dog training depends on when it is convenient for the human.
Are you busy, can you go to him and work with him.
Will you correct it?
Will you ignore it?
This often depends on what you are doing and how motivated you are to get up.
It also, often, depends on how long it takes for you to reach the point of “irate”.
One night you may become irate after a dozen or more loud barks, but sometimes perhaps after a particularly bad day, you might become irate after 5 loud barks.
How is your dog to judge how serious you are if your seriousness fluctuates?
This is a lot like parenting.
Some days you are a more patient parent than other days. Some days you are easily irritable.
However the difference is that most children are able to reason and notice the subtle differences; dogs however are not as adept at reading and understanding our human ways of communication and therefore unless you are consistent they have difficulty learning.
5. You want him to bark sometimes
Again this is an inconsistency.
You don’t know how often I hear owners tell me that they don’t want their dog to bark.
But….. they do want their dog to scare away strangers.
Once again, I will point out that dogs don’t have a lot of powers of human rationalization and understanding.
At the very core, I do believe that most dogs will defend their owners in times of threat.
However, and thankfully those moments are few and far between.
We as humans get more uptight about possible negative human interaction than most situations warrant.
But, we still want to feel like our dog is “protecting us”.
The irony is, that unless you have your dog’s voice and bark under your control, you can’t have both.
You can’t have a dog that is quiet when the UPS man or mailman comes and then have a dog that “recognizes the bad intentions of a burglar”.
Dogs are not predisposed to recognizing the intricate details that we as humans think we recognize (usually until the moment of aggression by the human).
Understand that your dog is a “dog”, a canine that speaks a whole different language and stop expecting him to miraculously recognize the good or bad intentions in a human.
And, let me be the first to tell you that having a dog that loves everyone and doesn’t bark is much better than the alternative of having a dangerous dog that hates everyone!
Don’t try and create a monster simply because you want to feel protected.
Instead, learn to control your dog’s bark so that you can use it to your advantage, while still having a dogs that is safe with people.
6. You realize shock collars don’t work
Tufts University did a study many, many years ago (1996) about the legitimacy and effectiveness of bark collars; shock collar vs citronella collar.
And, the study showed that barely over 50% of dogs were effected by shock bark collars. Many of the dogs in the study just braced and barked through the shock.
Yet, 90% of the dogs who used citronella collars learned not to bark.
Because the spray of the citronella, combined with the sound and the smell was repulsive to dogs; AND the collars were consistent.
The collars (as long as they were filled properly, the battery replaced and used consistently) were consistent with the dog’s barking.
The collar doesn’t have “moods” where sometimes it takes more barks to set off the collar. The collar is consistent. 1 bark = one spray; every time!
These collars are very consistent if used appropriately and regularly for long enough to break the original habit.
What Is The #1 Way To Stop Your Dog’s Barking?
The number 1 way to stop your dog’s barking is actually to learn to be in control of his mouth and his barking.
When I teach my dog to bark on command, I can teach my dog to be quiet on command.
When I have control of my dog’s mouth or “barker” I can tell him when to bark (let’s say I am scared of a person approaching) and I can also tell him when not to bark (let’s say I don’t want him to bark as I sign for the UPS package I am receiving.
Teaching him to control one of his instincts, allows him to use it but also allows me to use it appropriately.
I don’t expect my dog to quiet for the rest of his life.
I expect him to bark when I tell him to, bark when I allow him to, and be quiet when I request.
This provides a simple balance to a difficult problem!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.