Does your dog bark at anything and everything? Learning about their visual and noise triggers will help you to better train them to stop alert barking.
What is it?
Alert barking is a specific type of barking, whose purpose is to warn you or to get your attention. When your dog perceives that there is a change in the environment, their first instinct is to react to it.
These changes could be visitors, neighbors, cars, birds, etc. Dogs that excessively alert bark will spend most of their time looking around and trying to listen to triggers. It is therefore important for you to know how you can stop your dog from being an alert barker.
Here are some of the reasons why your dog may alert bark. They may have:
- Sensed danger and wished to alert you
- Seen someone coming towards the house, like a visitor, a mailman, or a stranger.
- Seen another animal, like a dog or a cat that threatens their authority
- Heard a noise inside the house like a doorbell ring or footsteps on the stairs.
- Heard a noise outside the house, like another dog barking or a car door slamming.
This refers to the dog seeing something that causes them to bark. The barking is geared towards scaring off what they could be looking at, and also alerting you to come to take a look, or run and hide if they perceive it to be dangerous. These visual triggers include
Your dog could be barking at other animals near the house. They are trying to get your attention and also show you that they are in control. Other times they could just be afraid. This barking can get out of control quickly. Usually, your dog intends to be helpful and to please you rather than annoy you. Knowing this should change your attitude towards the barking.
This is what we call the warning bark. If your dog wants you to check out something they’ll bark. At times your dog is sending a message to an unwanted animal or person to keep off its territory
This is good barking when done well, as it is one of the reasons why people love to keep dogs around them- For protection.
Friend or Foe
Dogs bark at each other for several reasons. Sometimes is to make friends or because they are scared. Sometimes they want to show authority to the other dog or simply to say; hey, I see you!
Whatever the reason, this behavior can make walking your dog quite unpleasant and it gets worse over time. Sometimes dogs will howl, or bark simply to respond to another dog’s bark. This can get irritating fast.
Visual Trigger Training
If your dog is affected by these visual triggers here are a few tips on how to manage the barking situation.
If your dog’s trigger is when they see people walk past your house, you’ll have to ensure that they can’t see out the window.
- Moving furniture that nears the windows will prevent them from using it to see outside.
- Closing the curtains is a trick you can use as well. Your dog won’t be able to see outside.
- You could also install a privacy film on your windows at least to the height of the dog’s view so it can be blocked.
When you’re away from home, make sure your dog does not have a view of the street. You can also try:
- Using a gate to block off access to the rooms with the windows.
- Setting up a long-term confinement area that includes time occupying puzzles and toys.
When someone is walking by and before your dog begins to bark, give them a treat and then another until the trigger is off sight.
The logic here is a trigger within sight they get a treat (bar open)! Trigger out of sight there is no treat (bar closed). Watch the video below as a step-by-step guide.
Soon your dog will begin to associate the trigger with the treats. As a result, your dog will choose to focus on you when the trigger appears, rather than barking at the trigger.
Since you have your dog’s attention, you can change the treat-timing. Instead of getting a treat once your dog sees the trigger, let them have a treat for simply looking at you when called upon.
With consistent practice, you should see less alert barking from your dog in no time.
This means that your dog’s barking is triggered by a noise that they hear outside or even inside the house. It is normal for your dog to react to noises, and bark as a result.
There are so many types of noise triggers in a dog’s life, such as cars beeping, a neighbor talking outside, the sound of thunder and rain, the door opening, the TV coming on, kids playing outside, people walking and laughing, etc.
Each of these noises is likely to cause your dog to react in the form of an alert bark, which means that they have heard the noise and would like to give you a heads up.
Noise Trigger Training
If you want to learn how to stop a dog from alert barking as a result of noise triggers, the objective is to condition your dog to be accommodative to the triggering noises.
Creatively you can mimic the sounds that trigger your dog. Either you can use a fan or you can play cool music or leave an audiobook playing while away from home.
Upon hearing their usual noise trigger, and immediately before they begin to bark, praise them calmly and give them a treat. You could have the treats in a treat pouch while in the house or have a treaty jar close by to use at all times.
The timing here is very tricky but worth it if you get it right. What this training does is that – it associates your dog’s trigger to the praises from you and tasty treats dropping from the skies.
With time your dog becomes more used to the outside noises and the associated benefits.
Once your dog understands how this activity works, you can slowly fade out the treats and frequently use praises were needed to encourage the behavior of not barking when they hear a noise.
When praising your dog your voice has to be at a low volume and very calm. The reason being you intend to encourage and reward calmness. Praising them excitedly makes relaxing hard for your dog and could even begin barking due to excitement
If your dog barks when left alone it means that they are probably bored. It may also be suffering from separation anxiety. But, the most common reason is that he is just bored.
You will notice your dog’s barking begins a while after you leave. Most times it is intermittent with the same level of intensity throughout the period you’ll be away.
This is more likely because the dog is not stimulated. If your dog exhibits this type of barking, the best thing to do would be to get him a toy, and one that is also a puzzle, so you can keep him busy and stimulate his mind at the same time.
Stop Barking Cues
Dogs naturally bark, training your dog the barking cue is quite easy.
From your judgment, you’ll establish if your dog tends to bark excessively. If that’s the case, you will first have to teach them how to be quiet when required.
Choose a single easy word to be the command. This word has to be easy to master and should be used consistently. Common choices include:
First, you’ll have to create a scene that provokes their bark. You can do this by having:
- Someone approach the door from outside
- Someone ring your doorbell or knock on the door
- Another dog come by
When they bark, for a brief moment you should acknowledge them. This you can do by:
- Checking for the trigger (check at the door)
- Getting your dog’s attention (show your dog the treat or a toy)
- Gratification (if it stops barking, let them have a toy or treat)
Rinse and Repeat
Repeat this process as you gradually add the waiting periods of silence. Before rewarding your dog with the treat, wait a little longer each time.
Command Word Que
After a few successful times, introduce the cue word of your choice. When your dog begins to bark, say the quiet command.
Your voice must not only be firm but audible, and upbeat. Do this while holding the treat or the toy up. Reward the dog when the barking stops.
Practice Makes Perfect
Practice the “quiet” cue as frequently as possible. You must also ensure that the training sessions are brief.
As much as you don’t always want your dog to bark, there are instances where they need to bark, and this is why you should also train your when to bark – the barking cue.
After your dog has understood the quiet cue, you can introduce the bark command. A single simple word, one that can easily be remembered. This will be required for the bark command. Common words include:
You can come up with your own word, but you need to ensure your dog continues to bark naturally when using it. While your dog barks:
- Say your command in a clear, upbeat voice
- Praise your dog and reward it with a treat or a toy.
Rinse and Repeat
Now repeat the process several times until your dog seems to get it.
As dog owners, you must always be careful how you deal with your precious canine friend. In this regard, there are things you can do, and others you shouldn’t do at all. Here are some of the things you should avoid when training your dog.
Do Not Punish
Punishing your dog for barking at everything, will only increase your dog’s stress levels. This will worsen their behavior. By being caring and nice to them they’ll behave more responsibly and calmly.
Do Not Yell
This will send the wrong signal. Just as you shouldn’t praise them in a loud and excited voice so should you not silence them with a loud voice. This signals to them that you should bark together! This is funny, right? Instead, train them when to bark and when to be silent.
Do Not Reward Barking
At all times you should acknowledge your dogs barking. However, you must refrain from rewarding them for the same. Do not reward them unless it is during training! Ensure you always praise your pet for quiet behaviors, to encourage it some more.
Do Not Use Shock Treatment
Do not use shock collars, spray collars or other aversive barking deterrents on your dog. They come as quick fixes; however, using these tools is not worth the risk, as dogs learn by association.
If every time they bark, they receive a shock as punishment, then, they will associate the trigger with pain or discomfort. As a result, they’ll be more aggressive to that trigger.