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Talking is our form of communication to one another. For dogs, barking, howling, growling and whining is their form of communication.
Why do dogs bark?
There are multiple reasons why a dog barks. Dog’s may bark because they’re curious, warning others of danger, prompting you to play and to discipline the young. These forms of barking are short-lived.
Why do dogs bark excessively?
First things first, teach your dog to bark on command. It sounds silly teaching your dog to bark when you’re trying to stop the excessive barking. However, putting a nuisance behaviour on cue reduces the frequency of that behaviour. Dogs learn behaviours quickly if you can teach them in opposite pairs. Therefore, teaching a dog to bark first is helpful to teach a dog to be quiet.
Set the environment where your dog is most likely to bark, likewise use/do something that will prompt your dog to bark. When they bark, praise and then give a treat.
After a series of repetitions, wait quietly for your dog to bark without being prompted. Once again, praise and give a treat each time.
After hearing your dog bark all those times, you may have noticed your dog has a range of barks, start to only praise for the bark that you prefer.
Next is to add a cue, this may be a gesture or a word. A couple of examples are ‘speak’ and ‘talk’. Cue the gesture/word just before your dog begins to bark. Make sure to praise and treat each time.
The next step is one of the most important steps, which is to work on stimulus control. In this step, your dog must only be praised for barking when it has been cued. To help with this, let your dog bark in between a few of your cued barks, when your dog barks without being prompted, do not praise or treat.
Next is to teach ‘quiet’
One way of training your dog to stop barking is teaching the word ‘quiet’. This word must be said in a calm, firm voice. This is because any sort of raised voice such as yelling will give your dog the impression that you’re joining in with them, rather than trying to stop them.
Use classical conditioning to teach the quiet cue. Give the cue for quiet whether that be the word quiet, or a hand gesture. Pause for half a second and then give a treat.
Your dog will soon start to expect a treat after the quiet cue has been shown. Therefore, with classical conditioning, you’re promising to give a treat once you’ve cued quiet, no matter what your dog is doing.
After enough repetitions, you’ll notice your dog will being to eager to wait in silence for a treat. Once this has been shown, you can now move onto operant conditioning to reinforce the behaviour.
Give the quiet cue and endure a short duration of silence, praise and give a treat for the silence.
To finalise and reinforce both behaviours, use them as a paired cue. First cue bark, let your dog bark and then cue quiet, let your dog be silent and then praise and treat. Repeat this a few more times.
I hope this information helps you guys! Let us know your experience in the comments!