Dogs usually bark because they are bored. Dogs want a lot of attention and they don't know how to behave when alone. Unfortunately, we have usually set this situation up ourselves. You want your dog to be happy, so you spoil him: you give your dogs treats and pat him whenever you wish. It is entirely normal for you to act this way and entirely normal for your dog to complain when he feels neglected.
You must teach your dog that barking for your attention doesn't work. If he is unhappy outdoors and he barks and you eventually bring him inside the house, he will learn that barking gets results. If you yell at him when he barks, your dog also sees that as reward. your dog thinks, "I'm bored so maybe I can get my owner to yell at me again." When you yell at your dog it just doesn't work. If you use negative reinforcement, it can still be useful. Here is a little story that will help explain what I mean:
Many years ago, I owned a young dog. There were times when this dog barked at night for no apparent reason. My dog was warm and well-fed, and he had plenty of water. His kennel was clean and dry. All he lacked was entertainment, while I sat inside and watched TV to keep me entertained. When I yelled at him to be "quiet", it made no difference and he kept barking.
Let me tell you what did work:
I put a small amount of water in a plastic cup and quietly stood in front of my dog, without saying a word. When my dog started barking again, I would quickly splash some water in his face. I woould then turn around turn around and go back inside and watch TV - all without saying a word. I did this about two or three times during the first night, once or twice during the second night and maybe only once the night after that. After doing this I ended up with peace and quiet.
It is important that you say the word "Quiet" and repeat saying it calmly and clearly once or twice in a normal voice. This will teach your dog to associate the word "Quiet" with water in his face and not with the barking behaviour. What you must do later, in situations where he would normaly bark but he stays quiet instead, is you calmly praise him.
Train Your Dog to Stop Barking
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7 July 2010
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