The first step is to determine if your dog has a medical or behavioural problem by paying a visit to the vet. Your veterinarian might be required to run blood tests, x-ray or ultrasound before ruling out any medical issues related to your dog.
Once your vet has ruled out medical problems as the cause of barking, you now need to investigate and address behavioural reasons. There is no easy fix for most excessive barking problems with dogs. You can start your dog off with a behaviour modification plan in conjunction with behaviour-modifying drugs. These are usually administered for a short while with only a few severe cases needing the drugs indefinitely.
Giving your dog a lot of exercises can also help. Simple things like leaving the radio on when no one is home can help your dog with separation anxiety, making them bark less.
If your dog is a foodie, give them toys stuffed with dry dog kibble or peanut butter, honey or vegemite to keep them busy. Keep your dog inside the house during the day if they are easily distracted by people or other dogs walking by. You could also keep them in an area away from the commotion in the street.
Teach your dog some verbal commands that they will recognize as chastisement. Every time your dog barks, you need to be consistent with the chastisement. A simple firm voice command of “NO” will allow the dog to know immediately that you do not approve of the barking. As well as teaching the dog that barking for no observable reason is not approved, you need to teach him what is OK to do. Give him positive feedback in the form of affection or treats. Teaching them to bark on demand and therefore be quiet at all other times can also be of great help.
Dogs usually bark because they think there is something to be gained by it. For you to control the barking, you need to identify and eliminate the reason behind the barking.
Never use physical punishment on your dog. It is not helpful and may cause worsening anxiety or aggression in your dog. In most cases, citronella or electric shock collars are not recommended to reduce barking as they do not address the underlying reason why the dog barks and will most likely cause your dog more anxiety, leading to other unwanted behaviour like destruction of furniture, inappropriate urination or aggression.
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