Bootcamp 2: Barking

How to Handle Barking

Dogs bark; that is what they do. It is not only annoying to you, but is illegal if you allow it to continue. Mostly, dog barking is related to doggie stress, so calming your dog will help, but it stress reduction is only a part of it. Lennie barks when he either sees or hears another dog. Barking, though it is ‘wired in’ to dogs, still needs your undivided attention. You can reduce it greatly.

1. Get a calming collar for your dog (aroma therapy). A calming collar is especially effective for dogs given their incredible sense of smell. We use it with all three of our dogs. We bought it at the local pet store. You can use other aroma therapy devices as well, and we have found that they all work.

2. Aroma therapy will help considerably and may even solve the problem for some dogs. We have a Rat Terrier who we found and adopted when he was 7 years old. This little guy has PTSD (yes, I can diagnose it credibly) and the aroma therapy really calms him. This little dog was so traumatized across situations that there was little we could do to calm him. It has worked beautifully for him, and he even started playing with his toys at age 11! However, for dogs like Lennie, the calming collar probably will not completely across circumstances, but I believe it should be the first line of limit-setting. However, dogs like Lennie, who are not traumatized, need further ‘incentives’ to stop barking. So the minute your dog starts barking, I recommend the following:

  1. Stop the dog immediately with your scolding voice, saying “no” repeatedly, while holding his mouth closed. We just physically grab his snout and keep it closed, while expressing our disapproval  by saying “no” several times in our angry voice. For Lennie, this reduces, but does not stop barking. So we go to step 2:
  2. Put your dog on his side (see the photo below). When you teach your dog to lie down, you will also teach him to go on his side. Until then, you can force your dog to go on his side. Your dog will lie on his side, and you will keep him there for a while (20 min or more). This is a technique developed by Cesar Millon, the Dog Whisperer. He uses this very successfully though he actually induces the dog to go on its side without touching the dog. This is his technique, and that is where I learned it. We use this especially in airports when waiting to board the plane. Put your dog on his side and use your angry/upset voice, saying “no!”
  3. If the aroma therapy and the angry voice does not work, you can use a folded newspaper on him sparingly. Do not  hurt him, but the noise will get his attention. I do not use this on Lennie, but every dog is different.

The bottom line here is that you do have to stop what you are doing and focus on the dog, and I keep Lennie on  his side for 15 or 20 minutes, or more. Also, I ignore him when he is on his side, but if he gets up without my command, he goes right back down. The dog has to wait for your command. I say “up” while motioning up with my hands. He gets it.

The key is absolute consistency, not letting barking go, even once. Never ‘let it go.’ When I have to go out without Lennie & leave him home unattended, I put a collar on him that makes a loud sound when he barks, and the sound lasts longer with each subsequent bark. These collars do NOT train a dog and they do not hurt the dog in any way. They only “babysit” the dog when you cannot be there. This is effective with Lennie in that it does stop the relentless barking; he barks once or twice, the collar makes its annoying sound, and he stops. I highly recommend it. It is called the PetHall Humane No Shock Bark Collar but other companies manufacture it as well. Here is one example of this collar:

Also, consider the information at this link: Cesar Millon’s tips

Dog training tip: you must be direct with your dog. Ignoring him, saying long sentences to explain “why” or “why not” will never work. You must stick with very basic commands and say them the same way every time, using emotion in your voice to convey approval or disapproval.

Below: Lennie is “on his side.” He is not happy about it, but this stops the barking.









© 2018 Dr. Marcie Zinn, Chicago Illinois. All rights reserved.